Rugby ramps it up this season

Julia Baxter, Staff Writer

Wayne State College men and women’s rugby teams have been fighting the battle to prepare for their upcoming playoff games. This weekend, the teams continued on in their winning seasons with a double win. The men’s team won with a final score of 65-7 and the women’s team continued their undefeated season with a final score of 110-12.

Coach Darrin Barner stated that he was pleased with how both games went and was excited with how the men’s team stayed with their game plan, even with the extra physicality that comes with playing this team.

“We always have darn hard physical games with SD State, it has been WSC and SDSU for the conference final 17 years in a row,” Barner said. “[The game] met expectations of how the physical side would go during the day.”

The main game plan of the rugby team is to try and draw the other team in using the bigger players to run what the team calls “bangers.” With bangers, the team runs into their defense repeatedly until the other team bunches up, then they spin the ball out to the faster players.

With that in mind, there were plenty of times that the team had a break away off of a turn over and scored from a long run.

“With one minute left in the half, and SD State close to scoring, we took the ball away and went on an 80-yard run in the closing seconds to have some serious momentum going into the second half,” Barner said.

After this big win, the team is looking forward to playoffs. “The youth of the team is great to see, we have great underclassman that are stepping up,” Barner said. “With only one loss on the year by two points, things do look promising for the boys to advance to Elite Eight and travel to Texas to play the number one seed.”

As far as the girls game went, the team was up 88-0 at half time when they put as many subs in as they could, including a brand new player.

“12 rookies are starters this year, and I’m just thrilled on how they have taken to the game and become part of the program,” Barner said. “The harder they work, the more I smile and think about our shot to go to the Final four again.”

The game this weekend was an extremely high-scoring game, thanks to the team’s game plan.

“The women are very explosive with speed not only in the backfield but also a very quick scrum on short yardage,” Barner said. “Our front row of the scrum is difficult to stop on short yardage, and that opens up the back line for long scoring runs.”

As the regular season comes close to an end, the team is looking forward to the upcoming challenges that are awaiting them.

“Going into the last weekend of regular season, our toughest games of the year sit in front of us,” Barner said. “I am really looking forward to the three games at the tournament in Pittsburg State this weekend. Playing a big university such as Oklahoma University, will be a challenge.”

The team is looking forward to a promising future, and not just the upcoming chance to return to nationals to defend their reigning title, but also the future with such a young group of girls.

“Our Western Region has won the national championship six of the last seven years,” Barner said. “This year will be the toughest with three of the four teams in our region coming in undefeated and another team coming in with just one loss. It will be difficult but we look forward to the challenge. This is the youngest team I have ever had, with 12 starters being freshman, and it’s also the team that is scoring the most points. It’s pretty scary what this team could be like in two years.”

With such a young team, the girls need strong leaders to help pull through and captains Anna Fleecs and Brook Hoesing are spoken of quite highly by their coach.

“Leadership of the scrum and backline captain have been great this year, open ears with me, and also they help with bonding the team together,” Barner said. “With us defending national champions, a lot falls on those captains’ shoulders, and it is great to see them step up and have the entire team on board for our game plan.”

Both teams have a promising future and hope to see you at “The House of Pain in Wayne” Rugby field on Nov. 10, and 11 for playoffs.