With the fall semester officially underway, it is now time for rugby season. The University of Dallas Rugby Football Club completed its last preseason friendly against Dallas Athletic Rugby Club this past weekend and is gearing up for the regular season.
Competing in the National Small College Rugby Organization’s Lonestar Division, the Dallas Hoggies begin their season ranked 17th in the nation.
Junior fly-half and team captain Peter Whisenant insists the team is focused on keeping the momentum of their undefeated regular season last year, and not so much on their national ranking.
“Getting to that level kind of puts pressure on this season,” Whisenant said. “Last season was the easiest it’s going to be; this season people know who we are so they’re gonna be more prepared for us.”
Repeating last year’s success will be a challenge, and the Hoggies still have plenty of preparation to do.
“We had our first scrimmage and it became evident that our fitness is not what it should be, so our practices have been pretty tough,” Whisenant said. “But it’s a chance for us to take our own initiative and put in the effort.”
The Hoggies have lost a few key players from their undefeated regular season, but the incoming freshman class aims to fill the gap left by last year’s seniors.
“We have some good backs coming in from the freshman class, some fast, solid players. I’m just excited to see those guys develop and I’m eager to play with them,” says Whisenant.
Another change on the pitch this season is new head coach Dean Robinson. Robinson, an assistant coach last year, replaces departed head coach Fillip Keuppens.
According to Whisenant, Robinson was on the short list to coach the United States national rugby team.
“That just shows you the caliber of coaches that we’re dealing with,” Whisenant said. “You never doubt for a second that [the coaches] know what they’re talking about.”
Robinson brings on two new assistant coaches as well in Rhys Ball and Kevin Clark to go along with Bruce McGregor, an assistant for the team last year. The coaching staff has received much praise from the team and observers for turning around the program a year ago.
The Hoggies begin regular season play on Sept. 23 on the road at Angelo State University and play their first home match on Sept. 30 against St. Edwards.