Men’s rugby revitalizes program in midst of rebuilding year
The Golden Tornado club rugby team is enjoying another successful season, with a current record of 3-1. Despite graduating talented players last spring, the team has accomplished much in recruiting fresh faces and maintaining the team’s winning atmosphere.
“This season was a rebuilding season,” said senior Jonathan Donath. “We lost some key players last year, but we have a lot of freshman coming out, and they’ve really been stepping up, so it’s just been nice teaching them.”
This combination of eager additions to the team with the rugby veterans has budded into a cohesive unit with strong chemistry.
“Our first game last year was kind of a mess because people weren’t ready for it,” said sophomore Dan Limbauan. “This year, we came out and we looked like we’ve played before, which is pretty cool because a third of the people had never played before.”
This confidence has showed on the field thus far. The team currently sits at 3-1 after having defeated Grove City 40-12 on Saturday, October 1.
“The game we just had was great,” said Limbauan. “The entire game we were playing like a team; everyone was playing together and there wasn’t just one person trying to score every time. The grass was muddy and everyone was sliding everywhere.”
Limbauan, a wrestler in high school, finds games, like the one against Grove City, particularly enjoyable, where both teams are having gritty fun, smiling and sliding around in the mud.
The team has only fallen this season to Robert Morris University, the two time defending conference champions, but they are looking forward to and gearing up for a big match-up as they close out the regular season.
“We have a game against Franciscan coming up, and that will be a challenge,” Donath said. “If we can beat them and win out, then we’ll have a home playoff game, which would be super exciting and a lot of fun. Franciscan is a big rugby team; they have a lot of money and a lot of good players. We beat them during the season last year, and then lost to them in the playoffs, so it is always close and it is always tough.”
While winning games and focusing on the competition is a big aspect of the team, they have broader goals as well. “My goal coming into the season was to enjoy the sport more,” said Donath. “Sometimes you can get caught up in the competition or the politics, but I just push that aside [because] we’re all here to play rugby and have fun.
“Our team motto is ‘Pride, Spirit, Togetherness,’ and if you’ve ever seen us before a game, we get really hyped about that. I think that has been our theme this year … and togetherness has been pretty important this season,” said Donath.
“We are rebuilding,” he continued, “and we have a lot of new people, so we are trying to figure out where they fit in and capitalize on their strengths and improve on their weaknesses. That goes for everyone—seniors through freshmen—we all have stuff to work on, but we work together and figure it out, and we have a lot of fun.”