Club Rugby Advances to National Playoffs
After months of off-season training, the USD Club Men’s Rugby team celebrates their recent win at the Sweet 16 National Playoffs and prepares to finish strong at the Final 4 Nationals. Check out what graduating Seniors Kevin Eaton and Matt Hunter had to say about their experience!
When the boys found themselves reaching new heights, they knew that this particular year and group of players stood out from the rest, in terms of both group discipline and spirit.
“This is the first time we’ve ever had an undefeated season and the first time making D-1 playoffs ever. There are about 8 or 9 seniors who have been playing together since freshman year, making the dedication and willingness to put in the work much easier. With the team, not putting in the work doesn’t go unpunished because of the senior leadership. Team morale is higher than before because it’s more fun to be on the team when it’s really close-knit, and it’s a lot easier to be happy when we’re winning,” said Eaton.
The boys trained all year long, following a group decision last year to work harder and earlier to put themselves in prime condition. When the semi-finals game finally arrived, the team wanted to leave the field with no doubt that they deserved the win.
"We were a wild card,” said Eaton. “We were expected to lose both our games, so when we won by 30 points in that first round against Brown University, it became a statement game. Then we won the second game against West Virginia because we outworked them and pulled out the victory.”
Eaton, who served as vice president his sophomore year and president this past and current year, attributes some of their success to strategy.
He said, “Our strategy makes use of the way our team works. We’re pretty small but in much better shape than other teams. We work at a fast-paced tempo, which is fun to play and fun to watch, all while wearing out the opponent.”
However, the season’s not over yet, and the boys are more than ready to get back out on the field.
"Though we’ve had a lot of big moments, we say a lot that we need to forget about what we’ve done so far because we’ve got so much more to go. Our goal is the championship,” Eaton stated.
Hunter agreed, “I’m trying to stay focused on the goal, but I’m also trying to enjoy the moment down to the wire since I’m about to graduate.”
With the two boys nearing the end of a four-year adventure, they’ve had the time to see a tangible difference in the team’s performance. They hope for only greater things to come as they prepare to pass on the leadership to newer members.
“When we started, I was looking to do something for fun. It is amazing to see how far we’ve come and how we’ve evolved. It still hasn’t hit me yet. As a core team of seniors, we’ve been able to stick it out and finally see the amount that’s paid off. I can see similarities with our team as freshmen and the freshmen now. I hope they continue to work hard and grow stronger as a unit,” said Hunter.
“Our senior class can leave knowing we started a legacy by putting in the winning attitude. We realized what a difference we could make, and beyond sports, that’s a lesson."Look out for more news about the team after the championship game against Stanford this weekend on May 10th and 11th!