PLNU’s club rugby team defeated UCSD Saturday 26-24.
PHOTO BY ROSS NEDERHOFF
PLNU’s rugby team, although founded 14 years ago, is finally starting to gain some real recognition on campus in addition to real success within its league.
Most recent on their list of triumphs is a win against Division II school University of California San Diego (UCSD). The team was able to come out especially strong in this match, driven by a powerful desire to overcome this premiere team. They were able to properly focus and strategize against the UCSD Tritons in order to come away with a victory. The final score of the game was 26 to 24.
“What allowed us to accomplish this goal was our great forward play,” said junior outside center Ricky Zollinger. “We were finally able to get the ball out to our powerful backs, run the ball down the field and score.”
However, this ability to defeat a team like UCSD is indicative of a little more than just the skill present on the team, according to Sam Bravo, senior player.
“I think the win really captures the heart of the team this year,” Bravo said. “We finally have a group that is putting a lot of heart into hitting, into working hard, into beating each other at practice to better each other. I think this win is just a taste of what’s to come.”
Observing this rugby team and their bond, it is clear to see that their hopes of “what’s to come” is a composite of their past as well as their present. It was not always that these men were able to practice on a field of their own with coaches who were dedicated.
“The past couple of years were really tough; we were coachless, fieldless, leagueless. We’ve gone from practicing three days a week at six in the morning on the piece-of-crap dog field down here – in secret, in the dark – to getting kicked off that field.” explained Bravo, reflecting on his past seasons with this team.
They now have a complete coaching staff and a field to call their own. “So it’s just been steps in the making,” Bravo said. “We’re at a point now where there’s a program developed where we can naturally lean into each other, naturally be brothers. We can naturally be comrades and teammates.”
The hard work has definitely been put in up to this point and it is really beginning to pay off. So far, their league record for the season is 0-1-1 with an overall record of 2-2-1.
In the coming weeks, they will be facing off against Biola University and Whittier Christian. The team, along with their coaches, is excited to see what else they can achieve as they progress towards their ultimate goal of making it into the championship games.
“The constant improvement and growth of the individuals as young men and rugby players and to see them become the best they can become as a team” head coach, Jason Lee said. As for the athletes’ ultimate purpose, Sam Bravo left us with this. “We play for each other and we play for the love of the game. I think when people come out to see us play, that’s what they will see the most.”