After enduring two years without playing a single league game on home turf, the University of Dallas Rugby Football Club (UDRFC) has charged into the new season with unrelenting vigor.
President of the UDRFC senior Matthew Quinlan says the team has done very well this season, even despite the long absence of games.
“We beat Tarleton State at the beginning of October, 90-0, and then we beat LeTourneau last weekend 37-0,” he said.
Over the last two years, UD rugby has been primarily relegated to “friendlies,” games played recreationally with other schools independently of the league. Due to pandemic-related guidelines, the team often found itself unable to play or practice, or else to play without contact.
According to Quinlan, about one-half to two-thirds of the team is made up of underclassmen players, a factor which might hamper the team’s success.
Quinlan stated: “We have a lot of new guys this year, so we’re working on chemistry still and making sure that we know who we’re playing with, we know how they act. But despite those difficulties, we’re still playing really, really good rugby. I’ve been proud to see kind of the growth that a lot of these freshmen have had.”
The UDRFC currently has a league record of 2-0 and an overall record of 2-1 with only a loss to the UD alumni team over charity week. The team had an away game on Saturday, Oct. 30 against SMU, where UD won 65-5. Notable plays included Timothy Naegele, a senior politics major, scoring a try in his first rugby game.
The Hoggies will play their first league home game in over two years on Nov. 6.
The excitement of previous games shines a light on the games to come. Junior politics major Jacob Warila’s favorite play from the season is a try scored by freshman Joe Wilcox on a crossfield kick. Warila sent the ball soaring across the field where Wilcox caught it.
Warila remembered, “[Wilcox] got it right in front of the try zone and got it down as he was getting smashed out of bounds.”
The buzz doesn’t end there. Quinlan related a story from the team’s game against Tarleton State. He said, “Caleb Skinner had probably a 20 to 30 meter breakaway that he scored for a try, which was just positively majestic. Like a wild wildebeest sprinting on the savanna.”
Outside of games, the UDRFC is a tight-knit and supportive community. Wilcox commented on what it is like to have joined the rugby community as a freshman and how it has affected college life.“It’s been great, the support from the upperclassmen has been awesome,” he said.
Wilcox stated that his favorite part of being in the UDRFC has been the culture surrounding it. He elaborated on what exactly rugby culture is all about.
“It’s just a group of majority Catholic guys who came to UD and are actually into the Core and actually enjoy what we’re learning, and just being in that community, and playing a sport together just builds a great brotherhood, and that culture is awesome.”
With the team’s third win under their belt, the remainder of the season is sure to be full of excitement. The UDRFC has only played away games so far, and Quinlan is thrilled to return home and greet the fans properly.
“I think it’s definitely more difficult getting wins on the road, so when you are playing at home you appreciate it way more,” he said, “We’ve missed the fans since last year.” Come out and support rugby on Nov. 6 on the Rugby Pitch!