One of the most successful athletic stories of the year comes from the New Paltz Men’s Rugby team.
The club team, which plays mainly in the fall with some “friendly matches” and tournaments during the spring, are coming off a very successful year where they beat college rivals and fell short at the SUNY Division II Championships by seven points.
The Men’s Rugby team was founded in 1985 and has been a permanent fixture on campus since that time.
There are no coaches, trainers or administrators who assist in the preparation of the team. Members said the fact that because the team is completely student-run, the athletes developed a close bond which propels them toward success.
“The Men’s Rugby team has just completed a very successful spring season with a record of 4-1,” said rugby player Tom Vaughan. “We defeated both cross town rivals in Marist & Vassar, and our only loss came in the SUNY Division II Championships to Geneseo by seven points.”
Julian de la Rua, who joined the team in the fall of 2008, said that the year could not be going any better for the team and that he is proud of the hard work that the entire team has put in.
The team is at its busiest during the fall, when they play games almost every Sunday and it is then when they are at their most competitive. In contrast, the players said the spring is more relaxed for the team. Most games and tournaments take place on Saturdays, and some tournament and game spots have been in Albany, Marist and Vassar.
Another contributing factor toward the team’s success is the type of attitude that they bring to the field every time they go out to practice or play a game.
“The attitude of the team has been geared towards winning and focusing on making the organization better for the future semesters,” said third-year player Ken Iscaro. “We are achieving this by hard work at practice and heavy recruiting.”
De la Rua agreed with Iscaro and also said the success of the team has helped to keep up the positive attitude throughout the course of what can be a grueling season.
“The attitude of the team is very positive,” said De la Rua. “The victories we have been having encourage everyone to work harder and put more in towards the team.”
Vaughan said that while the team does like to joke around and team members are good friends off the field as well as on, they are serious when they need to be. This seriousness helps the team focus during their games and leads them to victory even against the toughest of competitors.
De la Rua, Iscaro and Vaughan have all played on the team for a number of seasons, and they all agree that being a part of the team has made for a better experience at New Paltz overall.
“My experience at New Paltz would have been much less exciting and fun had I not joined the rugby team,” said Vaughan. “The team has made strides every year…When I joined in 2009 the team had trouble fielding an entire team every Sunday, now the team has over 45 players and we field both an A & B team.”
De la Rua also said the memories from being a part of the team would be with him forever.
“We started as a small team that couldn’t compete against other big schools,” said De la Rua. “Years from now, once graduated from New Paltz, all I will remember are the times spent with my teammates.”