It’s back and better than ever! The Hoggies returned in style with a 27-17 win on April 10 against Angelo State University, a long-time UD rival. The game was filled with spectacular defense, promising offense, and, most importantly, a big crowd. The club had not played a game in over a year, but chronic lack of play did not prevent them from shining on the green.
Dr. Olenick, the faculty sponsor for the club, said, “The team was awesome! Wow! What a spectacular game! The passing was mind boggling and the backs oh-so-speedy. Alumni players too were impressed with the team’s performance. Congratulations to all!”
Among the players that scored, three were freshmen. Freshman Eli Simpson, in his first official rugby match, scored the first try for the Hoggies, followed by a masterful kick by the team’s trusty fly-halves, sophomore Jacob Warila. Warila was the offensive player of the game, scoring 12 points from kicks alone.
Later in the game, two more freshmen racked up points for the Hogs. Sam Bryant, also new to the sport, pushed through the opposing lines and scored a try. Shortly after, Max Valentine gracefully shook off the enemy defense and scored a try of his own.
After asked how it felt to score his first try, Valentine said, “Scoring one of the few tries was definitely a great feeling when it’s a close game and you have friends and family watching. But honestly the better part about scoring was realizing all the hard work the rest of your team put in to set you up for that opportunity. It is consoling to see everyone strive for a common goal.” Max was appointed the defensive player of the game.
On April 17, the Hoggies faced Denton Rugby Club and won again, scoring 30-22. Junior veterans Dominic Valentine and Carlos Gomez both scored tries. Warila yet again kept the opposing team on its toes by advancing the scoring with more goal kicks.
Junior Damien Walz, president of the club, is optimistic about the team’s future. “We focused a lot on game-time this semester. We played a touch tournament earlier these past few months. The new guys have done so well and it is because we have great coaching. We have done COVID-safe practices. Huge shoutout to the coaches.”
Coaches Anthony St. Amant and Joe Kelly have done a great job enforcing effective strategy and tempering the players with peak conditioning.
Tommy Thompson, junior and defensive powerhouse, is also hopeful. He said, “Next year we are optimistic that we will have a full season, playoffs and all the like.” Students, families, faculty, and alumni have much to look forward to in the next year and it is an honor to have the Hoggies playing again.