Cal Poly’s rugby team lost to Brigham Young University 55-7 in the elite eight of the national playoffs at Berkeley Saturday after defeating the Purdue Boilermakers in the sweet 16 the day before.
This was the fifth time in the last six years that Cal Poly has gone to the sweet 16. According to American Rugby New’s rankings, Poly finished the season at the No. 6 spot in country with a 14-3 overall record.
“A big part of it is the desire of the players first and foremost,” head coach Nick Massman said. They have a desire to learn the game and to execute the given information, he explained. Massman also attributed the team’s success to their “God-given talent,” including athleticism and intellect.
The team trains four days a week and plays on the weekends. They have to juggle rugby with school, jobs and relationships. Massman said the players work hard and are committed to improving and to each other.
Having already fallen to the Cougars in February, BYU was one of only two teams Cal Poly lost to this year.
“I told the fellows that they were in for it and if they didn’t come out and smash them right in the mouth right out of the gate that we’d be in deep trouble,” Massman told American Rugby News. “It is what it is.”
“We went up there and we gave it all we had. We got beat by a better team apparently. I don’t think any of the players have any regrets,” journalism senior and club member James Mellor said.
In Cal Poly’s league, the Southern California Rugby Football Union (SCRFU), their biggest rival is UC Santa Barbara, said Ronnie Rosser, team captain and construction management senior. They also play San Diego State, UCLA, Long Beach State, University of Arizona and Arizona State University, among others.
This season, Cal Poly went 8-0 in the SCRFU.
Rosser joined the club his sophomore year. Both the president in his speech class and his dad, who had played in college, told him how fun it was.
“I played football in high school and I wanted something else to do in college,” Rosser said.
“It’s a challenging sport for anybody,” he said. This is especially true for the Cal Poly team because they are learning a new sport.
The rugby sport club’s 40 to 60 players and their parents bring in almost all the finances. The club also gets money from alumni and a small amount of grant money.
When the weather is bad, they play on a field in Arroyo Grande, called River Bottom, which costs them money. Otherwise the team plays on the intramural fields or travels to compete. The team is on an alternating schedule, with one year of traveling followed by a year of home games. They did not travel as much this year.