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Saturday, August 8, 2020

Western rugby alumnus turns pro

By Jessica Vangel


Louie Henson, a Western men’s rugby alum, was signed to a major league rugby team his first year out of college.

“It’s everyone’s dream. I didn’t choose to go professional, I got chosen to go professional,” he said.

Henson played on the men’s rugby team for all five years he was a student at Western and was captain all of last year.

Henson signed on with Seattle’s major league rugby franchise, the Seattle Seawolves, in late 2017.

“I was very emotional when the Seawolves told me that they wanted to sign me. I was thrilled because I achieved a dream of mine, but I knew all along that there was a lot of hard work to be done to succeed,” Henson said.   

Louie Henson was a first-team all-conference selection for Western men’s rugby his senior year as a tighthead prop. // Photo courtesy of Louie Henson

Henson shared that he encountered struggles during his time at Western. He tore his ACL and spent a year in recovery.

However, Henson said the hardest part was the mental recovery, not the physical. Three months after the surgery, Henson said he was still waiting to get the OK from his doctor to even run.

“At that point you’re wondering, ‘My god, am I ever going to run again?’” Henson said.

The challenges he faced helped prepare him for his career.

“Our coaching staff is very professional and they have coached at professional levels before, so they were bringing to us a similar style to what I’m seeing outside of Western,” Henson said.

Henson credited Western with preparing him for his career but many people at Western credit Henson for inspiration, proving Henson has left his mark on Western men’s rugby.

“I looked up to him as a leader and a player,” Parmvir Rai, vice president of Western men’s rugby, said. “I often asked him for advice about playing, being a leader and just everyday things that happen in life.”

Rai looked up to Henson as captain of last year’s team, saying he was someone the whole team would want representing their program at the post-collegiate level.

Louie Henson was the captain of Western men’s rugby team his senior year. // Photo courtesy of Louie Henson

Treasurer of Western men’s rugby Sourabh Raigaga praised Henson for his leadership and athleticism as well.

“I will never forget the determination and athleticism that he has,” Raigaga said. “He works hard, was an excellent captain and I will never forget the fact that he walked off the field on the day he got injured with no help, even though he had a major injury. The mental strength and determination he has is the reason for his success.”

Henson’s friends and teammates speak highly of him, but Henson humbly said his success stems from simply hitting all the right marks.

“It’s every athletes dream to go professional, right? I think I just did all the right things and paid my dues. It just happened to be a great opportunity to have my first year away from Western be with Major League Rugby,” Henson said.  

Henson and his teammates all concur the rugby team and the community that surrounds it creates a successful environment for its players.

Raigaga said there are several coaches that push the team as hard as they can and many mentors that ensure the team has a strong community surrounding them.  

“We push ourselves and our teammates and hold each other accountable,” Rai said. “We pride ourselves on our work ethic and determination, both skills that extend beyond the pitch.”




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