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Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Western rugby takes center stage

By Dan Thomas

Western’s rugby teams competed in the Western Regional College Spring Playoffs April 8 and 9 at Robert S. Harrington Field.

The women’s team was ranked in the top 16 of Women’s DII Rugby heading into the playoffs, and the men’s team entered regionals in the top eight of the Men’s D1AA bracket.

The women’s team started off strong, leading Grand Canyon University 5-0 in the first 20 minutes. 

“We came in really pumped up and ready to go, [we were] also really nervous at the same time,” women’s rugby assistant coach Emy Griffith said.

Grand Canyon University bounced back, tying the score 5-5 before the half.

“We came in really pumped up and ready to go, [we were] also really nervous at the same time.”

Emy Griffith, women’s rugby assistant coach

Grand Canyon University won 29-5 despite multiple defensive stops by the Vikings in front of their own try zone. 

Shortly after the women’s defeat, the men’s team took the pitch against Grand Canyon University.

Vacant from the roster were five players who were academically ineligible to play, men’s rugby head coach Paul Horne said.

The grueling match began with a shutout in the first period as Grand Canyon University blocked all of Western’s attempts to score.

But the Vikings rallied, scoring a try and conversion 10 minutes into the second period. They followed it up with another try and conversion three minutes later. 

Western men’s rugby fell to Grand Canyon University Saturday, April 8, at Harrington Field. // Photo by Dan Thomas

In the last seconds of the match, Western pushed past multiple defenders, eventually reaching a maul, a standstill caused by contact with the ball carrier. The referee blew her whistle to stop play and signaled the end of the game.

“There was nothing wrong with the call, the call was correct,” Horne said. “When you’re held up in rugby and held up with the ball, you’re not moving, the whistle will go and the other team gets the ball.”

Both teams returned to Harrington Field on Sunday to play consolation games against the Eastern Washington University women’s team and the California State University Long Beach men’s team. 

Western’s women’s team defeated Eastern twice this season with significant leads, and Sunday’s match followed a similar theme. The Vikings scored try after try, working to end the season on a high note and defeated Eastern 48-7.

The men’s team was also victorious in their consolation game against California State.

After scoring tries in turn throughout the first period, the Vikings pulled through in the second half with a 31-20 win.

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