The Dixie State University men’s rugby team is creating a lasting tradition and legacy.
The team started with only 10 players in 2010 and has exploded with growth since then. The popularity of the sport in St. George has helped the team grow. However, the team’s success on the field has helped the team grow the most, head coach John Aloi said.
“The team has proven themselves out there,” Aloi said. “People want to be part of a winning program.”
The Red Storm has had an impressive last two seasons. With only three losses last year, the team has carried on its momentum and has a record of 8-2 this season.
A winning program of any kind will leave a legacy.
“I mean, we want to win every game we can, but in the end, we want to have a program that will last,” said Brent Phillips, a campus recreation employee and member of the team. “We don’t want to be just a one-year wonder.”
Teammate Chris Lavatai, a freshman criminal justice major from West Valley, agreed with Phillips.
“Rugby is all about tradition, and if we can create that lasting tradition here, it will help the school and the community,” Lavatai said.
The team has had a rocky start since it formed because of the lack of money to travel and not having enough depth to beat highly-ranked opponents.
However, these problems seem to be resolving themselves as the team’s main focus is to be No. 1 in the nation by the end of this season.
“It is a reasonable goal to have for ourselves,” Aloi said. “I know that we are a young team, but we have so much potential, and I don’t think other teams recognize that.”
Some strong skills the team has this season is a fast running game and size of the players. The ideal rugby player is tall and wide but is still able to run and work with his body.
“Size is a great thing, but when you have a big guy who is fast and quick on his feet, that is when you start winning games,” Phillips said.
The players and the coaching staff are hoping to shock Brigham Young University this season, a highly respected rugby team that defeated the Storm last year.
“If we could have just one win this season, it would be against BYU,” Phillips said. “They are good, and we respect them. They are our brothers, [but] we just really want to beat them.”
Respect and brotherhood are what make rugby different from any other sport, Aloi said.
“You get out on the field and all your passion is put toward beating that team,” Aloi said. “Once the game is over, you are all friends again and want to go hang out together.”
The Red Storm will play nationally ranked teams this spring, such as the University of Arizona, Arizona State University, Air Force Academy and Idaho State University.
The team is always looking for more members and encourages everyone who is interested to attend practice. The team practices every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at Hansen Stadium at 5:30 p.m.