Rugby is headed to nationals

Men’s and women’s rugby teams advance to national semifinals

Blake Hilkemeir, Staff Writer

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The Wayne State College men’s and women’s rugby teams kept their seasons alive with two wins each at the House of Pain in Wayne Rugby Field here last Saturday and Sunday. Thanks to these wins, the men will be advancing to the Elite Eight game, and the women will advance to the Final Four to compete for another national title.

The teams started out with two wins on Saturday. The women defeated Northern Michigan with a score of 55-10 and the men captured a victory when their opponent, Creighton, forfeited due to weather.

Both teams then were set to play Sunday for their chance to advance in their seasons. The women squared off with Mira Costa, dominating the game and defeating them with a final score of 53-10.

“This is huge for us,” captain of the women’s team Anna Fleecs said. “We had such a young team coming out, it just feels amazing to do this again.”

Although they have a very young group of women playing this year, their youth failed to show, as WSC’s women had no problem adapting to the cold and running the tables.

“[The weather] was definitely a factor in the first game,” Fleecs said. “We were knocking on the ball a lot and we had a lot of penalties, but the second day was a lot warmer and we were able to get back to playing Wayne State Rugby.”

Despite dominating the past two games, the competition was fierce, and the WSC women knew they’d have a lot on their hands.

“With these last two games we knew these were going to be the best two teams we’d play all season,” Fleecs said. “We just wanted to go out and play WSC rugby and that’s what we did.”

On the other side of things, the men squared off with the University of Omaha, and had their work cut out for them. After only leading by a score of five to nothing with 20 minutes of gameplay left, they were able to find a groove, and finish with a score of 28-10.

“It feels amazing,” men’s captain Austin Urbauer said. “Our team chemistry has been amazing all year. We’re starting to fire on all cylinders and I couldn’t be happier with the group we have right now. I love each and every one of them.”

The men were also battling the fierce cold of the early winter, which can become a real game-changer if not prepared.

“We’ve been having practice every afternoon outside,” Urbauer said. “So, it really wasn’t that hard to get used to. Today’s weather really didn’t have an effect on us.”

Even with their domination all year long, the WSC men made sure they’d be ready for the competition they were facing over the weekend.

“We wanted to come in and play our style of rugby,” Urbauer said. “We started out slow, which was kind of upsetting, but we were able to overcome that and play the best rugby we could.”

With the time off between now and the next round of competition, WSC looks to use their time wisely.

“We’re going to focus a lot on conditioning,” Urbauer said. “We’re looking to get into better shape, get into the weight room and just focus a lot on team chemistry. I can’t wait to see where we go.”

With their wins the men’s team will be heading to Texas for the Elite Eight, where their next matchup which will soon be announced. The women, on the other hand, will head to Georgia, where their next opponent is also soon to be announced.