Club rugby team throttles Michigan Tech


Photo by Nate Beck

The UW-Eau Claire rugby team held the Michigan Tech Huskies scoreless in both halves of play. The Huskies didn’t do the same.

Eau Claire scored 32 points in the first half and 26 in the second to give the Blugold club rugby team a 62-0 victory Saturday at Bollinger Field.

“We always seem to start off fast, but as the game wears on we slow down,” Blugold team captain Wes Seay said. “I’m happier that we held them scoreless than I am about the high score.”

The Blugolds finished last season 1-4, but led each match at  the half. Seay said his team tried to slow down the game to contain the Huskies and hold the daunting first half lead.

Eau Claire locked up the match in the last 25 minutes of play, scoring dirty off a scrum deep in Husky territory, and again two minutes later on a breakaway try. A clean two-point kick made the score 48-0.

The Blugolds scored twice more, once off a botched Husky scrum and again on a downhill scamper bringing the total score to 62.

The Huskies crossed the goal line on a try in the last three minutes of play, but a Blugold defender wedged between the Michigan Tech carrier and the grass prevented points.

The Huskies failed to convert on the last play of the game.

Eau Claire senior Brady Olson said although his team played sloppy at times, he was happy with team communication.

“Team chemistry was at mid-season levels,” Olson said. “There’s room for improvement, but our play today is exactly how you want to start a season.”

Club secretary Josh Johnson said Saturday’s success was due in part to strategy changes the team made from last year.

The Blugolds saved three of its starters for second half play, a move that helped Eau Claire maintain momentum through all 80 minutes, Johnson said.

Rugby isn’t a popular sport in the U.S., but Eau Claire has a roster of six starters who have been playing since high school, Johnson said.

“We’ve got eight guys who’ve never played rugby before,” Johnson said “I was impressed with how they stepped up. We’ll continue to grow our new guys.”

Seay said although Saturday’s score might seem impressive, he saw things the team needs to hone in practice.

“There were some points where we were out of position,” Seay said. “A lot of that is because it’s the first game. We’ll be working on conditioning this week.”

The Blugolds tried to slow the pace of the match Saturday, Seay said.  Last fall, the game got away from Eau Claire when they played fast rugby.

Michigan Tech is a younger team; they have only fielded a rugby program for four years, Seay said. Saturday exposed off-season rust, but overall, Seay said he was pleased with the strong start.

The Blugolds will host Milwaukee School of Engineering at the pitch Saturday on Bollinger Field.