Men’s rugby wins first home game
The UW-Eau Claire men’s rugby club team jump-started their season with a 41-7 win Saturday against Michigan Tech (Mich.).
President and main captain, Brady Olson, said the team scored early and often.
“We never really let up,” Olson said. “The only try that they scored was with time expired at the end of the game.”
The team is also the largest it has been, with more than 30 members this year, 18 of which are rookies.
“We’re young, but it’s young in a good way,” Olson said.
He attributes the increased numbers to good leadership, a new executive board and to the increasing popularity of playing rugby in high school. That means that many students enter the team with knowledge of how the sport works.
“The guys we have now are passionate, mostly,” Olson said. “We were lacking that before.”
Excitement before the game also stemmed from their new coach, UW-Eau Claire and men’s rugby alumnus Jake Fields. It’s the first time in the team’s 32-year history that they’ve had a coach, Olsonsaid.
“We thought we were going to do well because of numbers and our coach,” Olson said about going in to Saturday’s match.
Junior Aaron Mayhall agreed.
“I felt like we were all on the same page and ready to get a win,” Mayhall said. Mayhall added that he thinks this year’s team is more structured than past teams.
In the first half, the Blugolds attempted four tries, two of which had successful conversion kicks.
Mayhall said the Blugolds worked together as a unit and had good ball possession during the first half.
In addition, Olson said the team also rucked and scrummed well.
At multiple times during the first half, the Blugolds drove Michigan Tech’s scrums over, which Olson said is difficult to do.
In a scrum, eight forwards lock up and push on the opposing team’s forwards, struggling for the ball. Each scrum weighs about 1500 pounds, Olson said.
At the half, the men led the game 24-0.
As the team entered the second half of the match, Olson said that while the men felt good about the match, they had no desire to let up on Michigan Tech.
“We just wanted to keep our foot on the accelerator and that’s exactly what we did,” Olson said.
In the second half, UW-Eau Claire added three more tries to their score, one of which had a successful conversion kick. Michigan Tech. also scored a try and conversion kick, ending the match 41-7.
Nevertheless, Olson said he was bitter about Michigan Tech’s scored try at the end of the game.
“I wanted a zero for their score,” he said.
Olson described Michigan Tech as a solid team as young, but knowledgeable about the sport.
“I’m sure in the next few years, they’ll be a very competitive team,” he said.
Olson felt the win encouraged new members to stay with the team.
“I was just most happy for all the rookies that joined the team that had never seen a rugby game played before, that we could put on such a show for them,” Olson said.
The Blugolds will head to Kenosha to play rival UW-Parkside Saturday.
“It’s going to be a real test,” Olson said about the team he described as the most competitive one they play. “They’re a big, fast team, but so are we.”
The next home match will be Oct. 15 at Bollinger Field against the Madison Blacks.
The Blugolds will head to Kenosha to play rival UW-Parkside Saturday. For more information on the team, visit http://www.ecrfc.com.