Rugby continues strong season

Mackenzie Drew

This story was incorrectly attributed in print. It was written by Mackenzie Drew.

 

Members of the rugby team huddle before a practice in September. The team won a state title Saturday at the Indiana Rugby Football Union tournament in Indianapolis.
Members of the rugby team huddle before a practice in September. The team won a state title Saturday at the Indiana Rugby Football Union tournament in Indianapolis.

USI’s rugby team named Tyler Pipes as new head coach.

“He’s doing a great job this year and I’m really impressed,” said Jon Stinnett, head captain of the team.

Some players such as Stinnett know Pipes not only as the new coach but as a former teammate.

“Tyler and I have a lot of history together. We played together for three years here at USI,” Stinnett said. “It’s a weird transition having him as a coach, but I try and give him the respect that he deserves and let the other players know that as well.”

Pipes began his rugby career in the fall of 2009.

“Once I got hooked up with the USI team and the players they had back then, it was a dream come true,” Pipes said. “Those guys were great to me and the other newcomers and the coaching was unbelievable.”

Former coach Kurt Murrell  impacted Pipes as a coach and once Murrell was relocated to work with Toyota, Pipes felt the need to step up and help his former team.

“I want these guys to be able to learn the sport as I once did and to see the benefits that Rugby can give,” he said.

Many players who join the rugby team have never played and this is something Pipes takes into consideration when coaching.

“Obviously I want to give my players knowledge of the game. It’s hard to play a sport when you don’t know the rules or basic strategies,” Pipes said. “We have to build something out of nothing, which can seem hard.”

Like many coaches, Pipes has a passion for his sport and isn’t scared to take on this challenge of teaching newcomers.

Pipes encourages newcomers to “not wait.”

The rugby program is one that will never turn away anyone who is willing to try.

“The way we see it, any body type or level of experience has a spot on our team,” Pipes said.

Stinnett also said everyone is welcome.

“If you’re not sure if you want to try because you don’t know how, we will teach you,” he said. “Half of our team hadn’t played before they got into college.”

This past Saturday the team played undefeated Bethel in the playoffs and won 31-12. This pushed the team through to play another undefeated team IUPUI where they took the win 20-15.

“It was both of those teams’ first year in the league and we were lucky to keep our championship streak alive at four in a row,” Pipes said. “Now, we’re on to St. Louis for a regional qualifier and are looking to return to Elkhart, Indiana for another shot at Nationals.”