A challenge unlike anything seen before. The Division 2 University of Dallas Rugby Team faced off against Division 1 teams for the first time at state last weekend. As the only D2 team, UD Rugby earned an impressive fourth place overall.
The players had different reactions to the outcome. “It’s actually a little disappointing,” said Matt Quinlan, Rugby Club president and senior business major. “We went into state wanting to win and expecting to win ‘cause we had the team to win.’”
Dominic Valentine, senior politics major and team captain, had a more positive outlook. “It feels good,” he said. “We put in a lot of work in the weeks playing up to it. We’re playing against big schools like Texas State and Sam Houston [and] UTSA. They’re D1 schools. We went and played against them. We put on a good showing. We competed well.”
First, the Hoggiesplayed longtime rival Angelo State University, winning 21-0. Tired and worn out, they went on to play the University of Texas at San Antonio where they lost. They earned fourth place after losing to Sam Houston State University 19-32.
What does the team need to do in order to win first place at state next year?
“That will be a hard road to get to number one,” replied coach Joe Kelly. “Because of our success, we were promoted to Division 1 and will have to face SHSU and teams that defeated SHSU, like Texas State … Being promoted to D1 requires us to travel a lot farther, meaning expenses go up.
“We’ll have to find a way to overcome that issue with our limited budget. We will also have to recruit more players. We do have great players, but participating in the top division, we will have more games and player turnover.”
Quinlan answered, “What I’m going to do on my end and I think what the other seniors are going to do is establish the culture of winning [and a] culture of commitment.”
Valentine echoed a similar point. “I think it will be up to the juniors, next year’s seniors. But they need to hit the weight room. The games we lose against these teams [are because] we are up in the first half and by the second half, there are sighs [from us] and the muscle mass [of the other teams] give them a huge advantage. It’s gonna take time in the weight room. It’s gonna win state next year.”
Though there are challenges ahead, right now the team’s morale is high. Kelly noted, “It was a wonderful accomplishment and the entire team should be extremely proud of themselves. Every single person on the team is a contributor and we could not have performed as well as we have so far without the efforts of every individual on the club.”
The rugby season is far from over. They will be playing in the National D2 Championship in Grand Prairie on April 28.