Mitch Barnett and Aaron Fishell
Did you know Western Michigan University has a club Rugby team?
Well of course you did. But since you are sick of telling your friends about it here is an article they can read while you check out the rest of the sports section.
Currently, the NCAA does not recognize rugby as an official collegiate sport, so the USA rugby association runs the program. Western plays in the Mid American Conference, just like all other sports besides hockey, and just became a part of Division I.
Recently, the rugby team had the unique opportunity to travel to Las Vegas to play in the Las Vegas Invitational presented by Station Casinos. It took place February 7-10 and they played the seven-on-seven game style. Out of the 45 players on the team 14 attended the tournament. Yo2mo, a Traverse City marketing firm, sponsored the team’s trip and paid for their airfare and hotel. The team also had the privilege of playing at Sam Boyd Stadium, the football field at the University of Nevada Las Vegas.
At the tournament, the Broncos were placed in the men’s division, separate from the colligate division. In the quarterfinals, the Broncos lost to Select Sea Services but continued to play hard and reached the third place game where they beat Air Force 31-21. The Broncos received the Plate Award for this. Overall, the Broncos outscored opponents 172-75 in the tournament.
Senior Dan Coci, the team captain and all-conference player, led the team with eight trys in the tournament.
“Coci keeps us motivated on and off the field,” Club President Andrew McNish said. “He is truly the heart of our team.”
Freshman Thomas Kacor and senior Austin King also received all conference recognition this year.
“Thomas has been very instrumental in bringing our team to where we are now,” McNish said.
“It feels good knowing I still have another three years left,” Kacor said. “I have a lot to look forward to.”
The rugby club plays in both the spring and fall. The team takes the fall season more seriously while spring is very open. In the spring they play non-conference games against the University of Michigan and Michigan State University. Even though Western Michigan and the NCAA don’t actually recognize the sport, the Broncos still find a way to host games in Kalamazoo. They play at Upjohn Park at the corner of Vine Street and Crosstown Parkway.
“For the future we are trying to get a nationally recognized program,” said McNish. “We would also like to gain more recognition from the school and students.”
Anyone interested in joining the rugby club team can like them on Facebook. The page is titled WMU Rugby.
If you don’t know much about Rugby, here is how it is played:
The field is a little larger than a football field; 100 meters long and 70 meters wide. The game can be played two ways, either seven on seven with two 14 minute halves, or 15 on 15 with two 40 minute halves. The objective is to get the ball down the field to score a try. A try is very similar to a touchdown. The difference is the ball must be touched on the ground in the try zone for the point to be counted. In rugby, the ball can only be passed backward. The game has a running clock similar to soccer. Rugby ends when the clock strikes zero and the ball goes dead.