SSU’s Rugby club certainly made a name for themselves traveling to North Carolina for the National Championship, taking home third place in the nation. Coming from a smaller university than most, the team is proud of their accomplishments and are moving forward into their spring season with high expectations.
Traveling across the country is something the team needs no introduction to, considering they traveled to Colorado last year. This year, knowing they claimed a spot in the National Championship, they trained for the unexpected and were ready to compete for this incredible title.
Heading into the championship the team was faced with their first challenge- the weather. It was incredibly cold, making it more of a challenge to stay warm throughout the match. The weather is something in which is unexpected, making it hard to prepare for something of this matter.
Luckily, the team was able to focus on the game instead of allowing the 20 degree weather determine their fate.
Adapting to the time zone after traveling across the country was also a trial in which the team had to overcome. Coming from across the country is no quick easy trip; it takes a toll on your body.
Layoffs in between games also served as a downside for the team. Transitioning from finishing a game to sitting in the cold and waiting to play again is no easy task. Often it takes your body a detailed warm up to get back into the mind-set to compete.
The team had an exciting first game, going into the game with little idea of what to expect, they still managed to get their first win in North Carolina against Emory University.
Excited about their first victory, the team went into the second game ready to win again. Unfortunately, the defense couldn’t compete at the level in which they did during the first game resulting in a loss against University of Wisconsin.
Luckily the team refused to let one loss effect the rest of their games “We knew we had to bounce back,” said Jake Kuluris. “We didn’t have the option to throw the next game to waste.”
With a sure victory under their belt as they battled New Hampshire University, the Seawolves were in the lead as time elapsed. However on the last minute call by the referee they were hit with surprise when he named the game a tie.
SSU was in the lead when a “knock-on” occurred, a form of a penalty in rugby. This caused them the win for the game, catching them in surprise with the final result of a tie.
Heading in to the next day SSU was on the field at seven in the morning, warming up in 15 degree weather. Unable to wear gloves or tights to ease the wind chill, the team had to find a way to compete at the same level as every other game.
“We had never played in conditions like these as a team before,” said Tommy Fallon.
Unfortunately for SSU, Principia University took advantage of any opportunity to score, and went home with a win.
In the final game fighting for third in the nation, the team knew their chance at a title depended on the last game. Headed into the game with the mentality to win the team succeeded in fighting for the title that they rightfully earned, Lafayette University fell short of SSU and the title.
With a long flight back to SSU the team felt accomplished. “Placing third in the tournament was big for us,” said Coach Anasa Koroitamana. “It gave us a chance to show other teams that we are able to compete at the highest collegiate rugby.”
The team was also featured on ESPN 3 and the men’s rugby club YouTube channel, for those interested in watching the games played in North Carolina.
With spring semester right around the corner, the club is looking to win their conference and the playoffs. They want to be in Colorado yet again for the National Championship in spring.
The club highly encourages the support of fellow students to come out and watch during their season games.
“We will be traveling more this season,” said McNanara. “Every home game will be important to us, so having the support of SSU students at games would be great.”