Author: Sant Kumar
Last year the men’s rugby team was one of the best in the country, making the national championship game. Following that success, they are ranked number one in the country for DIII rugby. Their showing in the 49er rugby tournament proved this year’s team is ready to take the next step this year and win the championship.
The men’s rugby team posted a 2-2 record in the Cal State Long Beach rugby tournament on Nov. 5. The Tigers played Division I schools because of the Blackshirts’ reputation as one of the best teams in the country. Men’s rugby played two top-five Division I schools, University of Santa Barbara (USB) and Cal State University Long Beach (CSULB). They also played two talented Division I schools: University of San Diego (USD) and Pepperdine University. Overall, the men posted a 2-2 record in the tournament, losing to USB and CSULB while claiming victories over USD and Pepperdine.
The tiger’s vast and speedy improvement over the four game stretch defined the tournament for the Blackshirts. The Blackshirts were shut out by USB and CSULB, losing 17-0 and 10-0, respectively. However, the team then learned from its mistakes, beating USD and Pepperdine, 16-0 and 17-0, respectively.
According to the Tiger’s president, Matthew Nixon (senior), one of the reasons for their poor performance in the first two games was due to laziness and a lack of communication. They started the tournament playing lackadaisically on offense and defense, making mental mistakes such as dropping the ball and getting penalties. As a result, they gave up easy points, allowing opponents to get long runs and score. Nixon acknowledges that against teams like USB and CSULB, these type of mistakes cannot be made, as they will take advantage of them.
Ryan Metzler (sophomore), who played in his first rugby games over during the tournament, was one of the reasons for the team’s victories over USD and Pepperdine.. In both games, Metzler scored a “try,” which is similar to a touchdown in football. However, instead of counting as six points, a try is worth five points.
Along with Metzler, Barnaby Audsley (sophomore) galvanized the team’s offense by scoring a conversion kick, which is worth two points, against Pepperdine. Audsley has been playing rugby for many years, including a couple of years in England, where he played rugby. To Nixon, Audsley’s leadership on the field was evident.
“Barnaby did a really good job directing people and telling them where to go. He’s one of the best players on our team in terms of understanding the game of rugby.
Nixon also made sure to note Audsley’s confidence.
As a result he’s one of the most confident players we have, and this rubs off on the other players. His leadership and advice was invaluable during the tournament,” Nixon said.
As Sam Buckley (senior) suggests, the blackshirts better showing against USD and Pepperdine was also the result of involving more players on offense.
“The last two games we included our backs more in the offense. As a result, we were able to spread the field more and involve our wings. This opened up our offense and allowed us to score more. The other teams’ defenses were scrambling to stop us,” Buckley said.
Additionally, the experience of the team’s new coach only helps their chances to win the championship this year. Coach Stanford has been playing rugby for over 26 years, all over the world. He hopes to bring that experience to men’s rugby.
“I focus on understanding the game of rugby, and why we do certain things both on offense and defense, aiming to improve the level of play for every player,” Coach Stanford said.
The men’s rugby team may next be seen on Nov. 19 at home, when the team will play Whittier College, who will undoubtedly have their hands full against a team as strong as ours.
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