Men’s rugby tackles new era with young roster

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Men’s rugby tackles new era with young roster

Dez Rodriguez, Senior Reporter

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41 players on the roster, 30 underclassmen, 19 of those being first-year students. The CWU Men’s Rugby roster is very young, but CWU head coach Todd Thornley believes in the potential the team has.

“They are a group of very, very talented guys and they’re really hard workers.” Thornley said. “It’s just going to take some time to develop.”

Former walk-on-turned-co-captain Cole Zarcone is one of only four seniors on the team. Initially joining CWU to play football, he made the decision to switch to rugby at the conclusion of his freshman year.

“I went home that summer and learned how to play rugby,” Zarcone said. “A buddy here knew the local rugby coach back home in Camas, so I was able to go home and he taught me the basics.”

Zarcone’s brother played rugby through college so he had some knowledge about the new sport. After getting a firm grasp, Zarcone played in local seven on seven tournaments. There, he was able to create enough highlights to send to CWU Men’s Rugby head coach Todd Thornley.

“Todd gave me a shot and it ended up working out,” Zarcone said.

Zarcone earned the Men’s Sevens Collegiate All-American D1 Honorable Mention at the conclusion of last season. Now at the start of the new season, he has been voted as co-captain by his teammates and coaches.

“It’s an honor,” Zarcone said. “It’s really cool to see that the guys look to me and value what I say and that I lead by example. They can look to me whenever they need help.”

One of the new guys looking to Zarcone for advice is freshmen flanker Vanya Sturm. Born in New Zealand, Sturm grew up playing every sport he had time for.

“I played rugby, tennis, squash, boxing, soccer, cricket, I can go on,” Sturm said. “I’ve been playing rugby all my life since I was five and always stuck with it.”

Sturm played Rugby last year at Iowa Central Community College. There, he played a pivotal role in winning the junior college national championship. Thornley took notice and invited Sturm to join his program at CWU.

Playing rugby for over 13 years, Sturm believes his experience can help the young team moving forward.

“Its teaching the new players to not feel pressured and to keep our minds down to the ground,” Sturm said. “Basically just get down and dirty.”

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Men’s rugby tackles new era with young roster