Men’s Club Rugby competes in Minnesota State Finals


The team poses after a win against Gustavus in the state semi-finals. *Photo courtesy of Vanessa Seljeskog.*

 The team poses after a win against Gustavus in the state semi-finals. *Photo courtesy of Vanessa Seljeskog.*

The team poses after a win against Gustavus in the state semi-finals. Photo courtesy of Vanessa Seljeskog.

This fall season has been a step forward in many ways for the athletic department for Macalester College, with all of its varsity athletics competing at high levels and enjoying lots of success. Less-known is the fact that one club team also had a very successful season this year. This fall, the club rugby team made a legendary run, making the Division 4 State Finals for the first time in its history.

So, what made this team so special? Well, a lot of things. One of those, according to Elliot Peña ’16, was the huge group of first years that joined the team and made impacts. “Without all of the first years, we wouldn’t have had the success we had,” he said. “This team is young, but it is eager to hit hard and play harder.” One of the largest first year additions came from scrum half Caleb Driker-Ohren. “We didn’t really know what was going to happen, but people came together throughout the season and there was a steady improvement,” said Driker-Ohren about the tough grind of such a young team.

This season began, as all seasons do, with several practices leading up to the first game.With the large amount of first years, Head Coach AJ Jones made sure all of the players were up to speed. All the players spent countless hours honing their skills, learning techniques and working very hard to be a successful team this season. Peña was very pleased with the number of people on the team, and the way the team worked and played as a unit.The rugby team got off to a great start and never looked back. They won their first two games against St. Olaf and Luther. They consistently improved week to week, their hard work paying off in spades. They qualified for the playoffs in their last game of the season, a hard-won match against a scrappy Gustavus team. The team peaked in their second to last game, again beating Gustavus, 25-15. “It was our best game of the year,” said Arnold Sanginga ’19.

The game against Gustavus was pivotal, and the Scots prevailed. The rain and mud couldn’t hold back the scots, who scored four tries in the first half and added another in the second half to seal the victory. The big win catapulted the team to the Division IV bracket finals, where they would face Concordia Moorhead. The team knew this game would be a tough challenge, as Moorhead will be moving up to Division III next Spring. “Concordia [Moorhead] was by far the toughest opponent we faced all year” said Peña.

The Scots fought hard and well against the bruising Moorhead team, but lost both times they played them. The highlight of the championship game came when Tucker Stevenson ’19 scored a penalty kick late in the game to avoid a shutout. As the team’s season came to an end, Driker-Ohren said, “We really created a positive progression from a team with relatively little experience to a contender in the state championship.” While it came to a crushing end, this was the best season the club rugby team has seen in a long time, and with the youth of this team, the future seems to be bright.