Men’s rugby makes Final Four

Julia Baxter, Staff Writer

WSC Men’s Rugby team has made it to the Final Four for the first time in rugby history.

After fighting an offensively and defensively solid game, Wayne State pulled out on top over Texas LeTourneau with the game ending in a final score of 46-24.

While the team has participated in many Sweet 16 games and even made it to the Elite Eight a handful of times, the men’s team is excited to be taking the field in Pittsburg on Saturday April 21 making it their first appearance at nationals.

“In the national semi-final we will play Mira Costa from San Diego,” Coach Darren Barner said, “They are a rock solid team, big and physical, we are going to have to bring our most physical game of the year to them. It’s going to be a demo derby.”

While the women’s rugby team has won seven national titles, this is a new experience for the men’s side, and they plan on bringing everything they’ve got to this competition. This includes a slight tweak to their usual playing style, according to Barner.

“To counter Mira Costa’s strong scrum we are going to spin the ball wide and use all 77 yards of width. We are going to get our backs the ball and see what happens, along with our scrum who will need to be more mobile in this match up,” Barner said. “We will have designed plays to have our scrum use the width of the field to make their bigger guys chase us all day. If we can get their big scrum tired, we will run and gun with the back and a very wide scrum line on offense.”

Barner also stated that he felt the main reason the team has been so successful this year is due to the recruiting work put in during the off season.

“Our success really is all because of the talent on the freshman and sophomores who believed this was not only a solid program but a program on the move to higher limits,” Barner said. “It all goes to those who had conversations with me over the last two years to look hard at Wildcat rugby, and they have boosted this program to new heights. We are even starting to get international recruiting requests, so our name is really out there for high school programs to see our wins and playoff travel.”

The men and women’s teams will both be competing in the “Battle On The Prairie” tournament in Wayne this weekend.

In anticipation for the full weekend Barner was obviously excited as he explained just when “Toga Night” and the rest of the tournament began.

“Way back in 2002, Riley’s started the first Toga Night with dance night. That now has evolved into a major rock event with smashing guitars at the end of the show, body surfing, lasers, spinning drum sets, smoke bombs and a $100,000 light show,” Barner said. “It’s a major reason why teams travel so far, they simply love this long hair 80’s band. Riley’s does a great job with the event, and teams can have some entertainment instead of sitting in a motel room all night.”

With 70 teams playing games from 9:30a.m.-6:30p.m. on Saturday and 8:30a.m.-2p.m. on Sunday, and at least nine games from our own WSC Rugby team, the weekend is sure to be true to the field hosting. The games will be played at “The House of Pain in Wayne,” as the field has been nicknamed.