Men’s rugby drops a pair of games at Border Battle Tournament

Chris Kemp

The UW-Eau Claire men’s rugby team got off to fast starts but fell in each of its games at the

Border Battle Tournament held on a rainy Saturday at Bollinger Field.

In their opening game, the Blugolds fell to UW-Stout 20-7.

The contest was a departure from past games. Junior Mike Brownlow said the Blugolds usually come out flat and are forced to play catch-up.

But Saturday, the reverse happened. The Blugolds led at halftime only to see that margin shrink before finally disappearing.

“The last 10 minutes, I don’t know if we were tired or out of shape, but we made a couple mistakes and … they pretty much owned us,” Brownlow said. “A couple of missed tackles here and there added up to points. We definitely deserved to win that game.”

Junior Mike Schatz said that while he was disappointed in the loss, he pointed out that Stout is one of the best teams in the state.

“We stuck with them really well in the first half,” Schatz said “In the second half we just fell apart.”

The Blugolds then faced UW-Whitewater in the second game, and the result was much of the same.

Eau Claire jumped out to an early advantage before eventually succumbing to the Warhawks 22-14.

The tournament also included UW-Stevens Point, UW-Platteville and UW-La Crosse.

The six teams were divided into two brackets and played a round-robin format.

The winners of each bracket then played each other in the championship.

Stevens Point won the tournament for the fourth year in a row with an overtime victory over Stout.

The current season, which consists of tournaments, is following a successful fall season that is made up of conference games.

The Blugolds competed at a tournament in Platteville a few weeks ago and have another tournament May 7, in Milwaukee.

In the fall, the Blugolds lost only once in five tries, and that loss was a close one to perennial powerhouse Marquette, Brownlow said.

He said the Blugolds are young and still learning the game. He said most players on the team did not play rugby in high school and are new to the sport.

He also said that it can sometimes be tough getting all the players to practice together.

“It’s hard to get all the people to mesh well together,” Brownlow said. “That’s one of our downfalls.”

Schatz added that as the younger players gain more experience, the team should become more potent in the years to come.

“We really came together as a team this year,” Schatz said.

“We just need more experience playing with each other,” he said. “In a year, we really think the team will be a force to be reckoned within the state.”