The love of the game is driving Dixie Sate University rugby players after a loss to Brigham Young University.
The Red Storm played BYU on Feb. 16 at Snow Canyon High School in their second meeting of the season. The score was tied at the half, but BYU came out strong in the second half and beat Dixie 50-22.
Head coach Jeremy Lister said the team put up a good fight, but the team should have come home with a victory.
“BYU is the reigning national champion in rugby,” Lister said. “We knew it would be hard, but we thought we could have won because of our previous games.”
The team was slowed down by serious injuries to two players on the team. Both players had to get stitches to the head but returned later after the bleeding had stopped.
Lister said the lack of numbers on the Red Storm hurt the team as well. Dixie State had 22 players while their opponent had 70.
“We only had four subs for the whole game.” Lister said. “Our guys got tired because there was no one to take their place. We had many guys who played a full 80 minutes.”
Since some players are having to stay on the field for so long, the coaching staff has been stepping up on endurance at practice. Running drills have been increased, and each player runs approximately 30 miles a week.
Lister is hoping the extra conditioning will allow the team to have a strong showing in the next five games. It will prepare the Storm for the conference championship on April 5-6. The championship game will be held at either Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy or at Murray Park in Salt Lake City. The destination has yet to be determined.
“The team is really looking forward towards championships,” said Brentt Phillips, a sophomore general education major from Salt Lake City. “We will beat BYU then.”
Dixie State will have home field advantage throughout the upcoming games because of bad weather in northern Utah. Games will be played at Hansen Stadium and at other fields around St. George.
“It always helps to have games down here,” Lister said. “We don’t have to spend the extra money, and the players don’t have to get off work for the whole weekend.”
Many players are not able to play all the games because of their work schedules or other personal matters. Every team member is a volunteer and plays because of the love of the sport.
“We don’t offer scholarships like other schools do,” Lister said. “They play the game because it is fun.”
The players work hard and the coaching staff is taking notice and will continue to push them until the end of the season.
“They work their butts off for the school and put their physical well-beings on the line,” Lister said. “It means a lot to me to see them succeed.”