Rugby suffers injuries but captures tournament title
by Paul Aronson
The men's rugby club team won the collegiate division of the High Desert Rugby Classic on a bittersweet weekend in Albuquerque Oct. 21-22.
Three players suffered significant injuries, including two that will require surgery.
"I am very happy about bringing home the hardware, and drinking out of the champions cup was awfully sweet," senior team captain Jacob Robson said. "But it is going to be very hard to absorb these injuries."
The Owls emerged victorious from the grueling five-game weekend when they defeated the Albuquerque Aardvarks, a men's club team, 7-5 in Sunday's championship game, which featured strong defensive efforts by both squads.
Sophomore Cary Kottler scored the team's lone try and senior Sam Poutasse converted the ensuing kick that proved to be the winning margin. Rice scored its try, which would account for its only points in the game, within the game's first five minutes. The Aardvarks countered with a try but booted the ensuing kick off of the upright, missing a chance to tie the game.
On Saturday, the Owls won three of their four games. The Owls beat the Aardvarks 19-7 in the first game of the day before losing 27-10 to a team comprised of players from the University of Oklahoma and men's club players from the Norman, Okla. area. They followed that game by defeating the A-side from Fort Lewis College 25-0 and the same school's B-side 35-0 to secure a spot in the championship game.
"We finally came together after losing 10 seniors from a team that finished ninth in the nation last year," Kottler said. "We worked harder, were in better shape, were better coached and had our skills at a level above the competition's."
The injuries kept the championship weekend from being an entirely joyous occasion for the Owls. Freshman John Navarro severely injured his ankle and will be out for the season following surgery. Sophomore Doug Mraw suffered an injured shoulder that will also require surgery. Robson severely sprained the medial collateral ligament in his right knee and missed the championship. A preliminary diagnosis indicated that he will be back for the spring semester at the latest.
In the face of these injuries, however, a few players stepped up to fill in the gaps with strong performances.
"The injuries resulted in playing time for players that are going to have to assume integral roles on the team," Robson said. "This is extremely important for a team that thrives on its depth."
On the weekend, Kottler led the team with four tries. Freshman Nick Anaya and sophomore Phil Ziegler added two tries apiece.
The Owls host a tournament beginning tomorrow.
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