WRITTEN BY: ANDREW EAKES AND JONATHAN SOCH
PLNU Rugby finished yet another outstanding season.
With a prior 5-1 record, the Rugby Club was in the process of training for the West Coast Championship in the National Small Colleges Rugby Organization—their second playoff run in two years.
This season, Point Loma faced schools such as Biola, Cal Poly Pomona and Loyola Marymount. The tournament took place in Seattle from April second until the third.
“After last season, we put a lot of pressure on ourselves to go out and make it back to the championship this year,” said junior Kevin Piscopo, the Rugby Club President. “My goal this season was to bring everyone together so we can work as one. In Rugby you can’t be successful without the guy next to you.”
As the head coach of the Rugby Club, Carlos Guerrero has been involved with the team for ten years. After assisting for a number of years, Guerrero took over the head coaching position in 2013.
“When I came back to be the head coach, I wanted to add structure to the team that had lost its way,” said Guerrero. “To play Rugby well you need physically fit and tough athletes and that’s what I expect from my team.”
Both Piscopo and Guerrero said their team lacks a “superstar” and relies on role players to win games.
Coach Guerrero said the biggest challenges facing the team were staying focused and raising enough money to make to the championships in the first place.
“Our original thought was that this trip was going to cost us around $10,000,” said Guerrero. “Once we calculated hotel fees, air fare, meals, and so on we are looking at $15,000 for this trip alone.”
The Rugby team is a club, which means they are not funded by the athletic department. The Rugby Club is funded by ASB, but as Piscopo said, what they are given is “very much appreciated but not nearly enough.”
To pay for the $15,000 fee, the club reached out to their alumni and the local Point Loma community for any help.
After their financial goal was reached, the team eventually went on to win the National Small College Rugby Organization (NSCRO) championship, held April 3 in Seattle.
Club President, Kevin Piscopo said the win was hard-earned despite winning 37-13.
“We won by a lot but, it felt like it was a lot harder of a game than the score made it sound,” said Piscopo. “Because the other team was – they were just putting up a lot of fight. It made it really, really fun rugby.”
The match came down to which team was more durable and sustained the most hits.
“You could tell from the other team, by especially the last fifteen, twenty minutes they were pretty gassed, but you know our coach has prepared us pretty well fitness-wise and skill and play-wise too,” said Piscopo. “Leading up to the game they, you know, talked us down a little bit because we were all pretty antsy this morning, but they gave us a good little talk before the game and helped us to calm our nerves and focus up.”
The team will go on to the national tournament on April 23.
“We are flying to Cheswick, Pennsylvania to play in the national tournament, which is the farthest that Point Loma rugby has gone in the history of our club, so it’s a really big deal for us because we are kind of making history for the club.”