Wildcat men’s rugby off to strong start

Hanson Lee, Senior Sports Reporter

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Coming out of the Collegiate Fall Rugby 7s Classic, the Wildcat men have yet to be defeated in 7s with a 10-0 record on the season, but have since fallen in their first two games of the 15s season.

“The team has just sort of come together really nicely as a group this year,” head coach Todd Thornley said.

Thornley spoke highly of the upperclassmen on the team and talked about the impact they have had on the team’s success this season including junior center Cole Zarcone and senior wing Dominic Lindstrom.

“Our seniors want to leave the [program] in a better place than they found it, and they realize doing the same thing that they’ve always done is not necessarily going to get the same result,” Thornley said. “They’ve taken a greater sense of pride in what they’re doing, and they really want to change things here.”

Thornley detailed how the team has shown a greater sense of pride on and off the pitch this season.

“Just the responsibility,” Thornley said. “They understand now the environment and the requirement in terms of our team roles for example, and now they’re becoming self-regulated.”

“It was such a cool experience, really fun,” Zarcone said. “Definitely wouldn’t have happened without all of the guys and the coaching that we had leading up to it.”

It’s apparent that the Wildcats can’t be doing better than 10-0 10 games into 7s this season, but after losing back-to-back games in 15s, Thornley made it clear that there are still things that the Wildcats need to maintain and improve upon if they want to continue their success down the road.

“I just want us to continue to have that desire to learn and get better, and I think that everyone in the program can always get better,” Thornley said. “As long as we have that growth mindset and we want to look at ourselves individually and, collectively every single performance and learn from something whether we win or lose, then that’s all I can hope for.”

Zarcone has been a key player for the Wildcats this season including being named Most Valuable Player for the West Coast 7s tournament.

“I think with 7s, my teammates put me in a position to do well and then a lot of the time it was up to me to win a one-on-one against a guy,” Zarcone said. “I think my ability to make people miss and my speed on the field has allowed me to be successful in 7s and also when we’re playing 15s.”

Zarcone had positive words about the team’s success so far.

“I think it’s all just kind of slowly coming together,” he said. “There’s a lot that we can work on, but I think that we’re moving in the right direction.,” he said. “I think that the older seniors have definitely been stepping up a little bit more to help out the younger guys,” “Zarcone also talked about what it has been like for him on the pitch being able to positively impact his team’s success.

“I just try to lead by example and be a leader wherever I can and help the guys out,” Zarcone said. “We try to keep the intensity as high as possible just to help us out on the field. We just try to focus on one game at a time and hope that it leads into winning as many games as we can this 15 season, so I’m excited to hopefully make a run in the playoffs.”

Lindstrom expressed his feelings about the team’s quick 10-0 start to 7s this season and what’s been working for the team.

“We [have] four or five seniors and a good core group getting the younger guys kind of up to speed,” Lindstrom said. “That’s kind of led us so far.”

Lindstrom expressed his role as a player and the impact that he’s been able to have on the team this season.

Being a senior on the team this season, Lindstrom talked more about his role on the team as a leader and how he has been able to use his past years of experience as a way of positively impacting the team’s success, especially for the younger guys.

“We don’t have that many older guys, so it’s important that you kind of embrace that role because there’s a limited number of us that are upperclassmen right now,” Lindstrom said. “Just teaching [the younger guys] the ins and outs and helping them slow the game down for themselves because when you first come in, the games seem pretty quick.”