The Dixie State College rugby team is looking to prove itself in the upcoming 15s season after failing to qualify for nationals at the Rocky Mountain 7s Tournament in Greeley, Colo., on Oct. 20.
“We were one game away from qualifying,” said lock Ian Burgess, a junior biology major from St. George.
Team captain and outside center Brad Godinet, a senior integrated studies major from Sandy, said the team needed to take top two to qualify for nationals but ended up in third place. He said the team was plagued by injuries, such as injured shoulders, necks and hips. He also said the long and uncomfortable drive didn’t help.
“We traveled (with) 15 guys in a 15-passenger van, and most of our guys are bigger than two people,” he said.
Despite the loss, Godinet said he walked away feeling proud of the team because they are a Division I team competing against Division II schools.
Now that the 7s season has finished, Godinet and his team members are excited to continue putting the DSC name out there and are hoping to start strong by defeating the No. 1 school in rugby right now.
“Our very first game, we will be playing BYU,” he said. “If we can pull one by on them, we’d get a lot of national exposure. We’ll get a lot of respect and funding from around the community.”
Godinet said collecting money for travel has been a hurdle for the team.
“Rugby isn’t an expensive sport, but traveling is,” he said.
Godinet said he’s looking forward to having a bigger team. He also said 15s rugby features physically larger players.
“7s is more of a smaller guy’s sport,” he said. “15s is what rugby is known for.”
Burgess said rugby requires players to analyze the field and game independently, a feature that makes it stand out from American football.
“In football, every player has a very set role and a very narrow set of responsibilities,” he said. “In rugby, everyone plays defense, everyone plays offense, everyone gets the ball. There’s a lot more autonomy.”
Of course, team cooperation is just as important, as there’s no set leader like a quarterback calling the plays.
“We have no all-star positions,” Burgess said. “We have to function as a group. We all have to be able to communicate. A lot of [success] is (from) team communication and unity, and that comes from playing with each other for a long time.”
Burgess said the team has yet to play on its home turf here at DSC, and that both national and community exposure would help the talented team members.
“We have a lot of team members who could go very far, and we’re looking to put DSC on the map,” he said.
However, Godinet said right now he’s hesitant about getting large crowds to the games.
“We want to prove to ourselves and those closest to us before we get our name out there,” he said. “We don’t want people to watch us if we’re a losing team.”
The rugby 15s season starts in January. Those interested in joining the team can do so by attending practices on the football field Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday at 5 p.m. and Thursday at 7 p.m.