WSC ruggers come thundering back

Tiffinie Randall, Staff Writer

With the men and women rugby seasons well on their way, both clubs have started by hitting the ground sprinting toward success.

“It might be too early in the season to say for sure, but I have very high hopes for this year,” coach Darrin Barner said. “We lost some key players last season, but have a lot of potential being shown in younger players and confidence seems to be coming to older members as well. It’s a good mixture for both teams.”

The women kicked off their season in August against the Nebraska Cornhuskers. The scrimmage against UNL has been an annual opener multiple times for the Lady Wildcats and gives the rookie players a chance to get a feel for the game before playing an actual match.

According to junior Jasmine Kovacs, it was a success.

“It was an awesome way to start off the season and a great learning experience for newer girls.”

The entire club headed to the suburbs of Minneapolis, Minn., for a tournament the following weekend and both came back successful.

The men’s team played their first game of the season in the two-day tournament against St. John’s, winning 31-5.

That momentum would carry over into the following games against University of Wisconsin River Falls (24-0) and Minnesota Duluth (20-7), eventually leading the Wildcats to walk away with a tournament championship on Sunday after a second victory over St. John’s (25-10).

Senior Taylor Helton had many good things to say about the men’s performance in the tournament.

“Teams at this tournament had never heard of Wayne State and we won our bracket by quite a large margin,” he said. “We put Wayne State on the map. We have freshmen coming in and making a large impact on our gameplay, we have veteran players showing strong leadership skills, it’s exciting.
“We’re excited to show the new league we’ve been placed in how Wayne State rugby is played.”

The women’s bracket also showed success for the Lady Wildcats. Saturday consisted of two shut-out games against University of Wisconsin River Falls (41-0) and Morris (66-0) for Wayne State, placing the women in the championship bracket.

The women’s team continued their shutout streak on Sunday by defeating Winona State with two tries and a completed field goal. Unfortunately, WSC tasted defeat in the championship game against MSU Moorhead with a painfully close score of 19-12.

“It isn’t going to be easy this year, making it back to finals in Philadelphia,” coach Barner said. “We’ve beaten Moorhead in regionals previous years, and it can be done again. They’re a very balanced team with many players returning and we’re still getting that balance among our girls. It’ll be a good game when we see them again later in the season.”

The women came back this weekend with higher spirits after a 61-0 victory against Chadron. The game was played by a team consisting of 14 rookie players with the intent to build confidence and experience for the younger women – a necessity if the Wildcats are going to find success later in the season.

With a roster that boasts numbers well over 30 for both the men and women, it’s difficult to pass up crucial playing time for developing players that might not see time on the field otherwise.

“A couple players are starting to stand out and it’s encouraging to see beginners get the hang of the game,” Coach Barner said after the game Saturday.

The men still hold strong to their winning streak and remain undefeated after the weekend.

Their schedule pulled them in the opposite cardinal direction of the women’s team for another tournament as they took on SDSU and WIT in Brookings, S.D.

The men defeated the Coyotes 29-5 and WIT 50-5.

This weekend the Wildcat ruggers take their home field for the first time this season.

The women will face off against USD in their first Cup game of the year and the men will be doing the same against South Dakota State University.