The daily routine of a CWU rugby athlete

Della Babcock, Staff Reporter

There’s more to rugby athletes than meets the eye. Although being a student athlete can be seen as something very glamorous, it can also be much more difficult with a variety of elements.

Both men’s and women’s rugby athletes are the only division one program at CWU. These athletes work day in and day out to achieve success in their sport.   

Men’s Rugby 

CWU Men’s Rugby head coach Todd Thornley believes success comes through work ethic. 

“I hope the perception of our program is, guys with high character who care about something bigger than themselves,” Thornley said. 

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The men’s rugby team has practices that are traditionally 80 minutes long, where athletes are required to be ready to go each weekday. Even though the practices differ each day, the themes for practices stay the same every week.

“Learn on Monday, train on Tuesday, compete on Wednesday,” Thornley said. “Friday’s just confidence.”  

The main focus of the men’s practices is to be intentional, according to Thornley. Whatever the theme may be that day, the idea of being intentional comes first and builds a strong foundation for each practice. Thornley discussed the idea of how being intentional brings forth the mentality of working hard, not only within this sport but in school as well, even if that means having to restructure priorities. 

“Academics, athletics, and social,” Thornley said. “You can have all three but they have to go in that order.” 

Thornley talks to his athletes about their priorities to make sure they’re able to have a full experience, both in athletics and school.

One of the words Thornley used to describe the athletes on his team was “inclusive.” He also described them all as having a strong work ethic. Thornley said his athletes always respond well when being challenged. It is clear to Thornley these athletes do not wilt at challenges but come back and overcome them. 

Thornley smiled when he discussed the athletes on his team and how they work as a tight knit team to reach their goals. Thornley said he’s proud of what the men achieve and how they go about achieving it. 

Women’s Rugby

The women’s rugby team is on a similar page as the men’s when it comes to work ethic and the mentality they must have to compete at this level. Head women’s coach Trevor Richards defined what it truly takes to live the life of these women rugby athletes in a few words. 

“Dedication and time management,” Richards said. “A drive and a work ethic.”

Richards expects a committed attitude in not only the sport but in school as well. Even though the standards are set high at practice and in games by Richard, he drives the idea that school is the most important aspect of being a part of this program. 

“First and foremost, you are here to go to school and graduate,” Richards said. “We have a bunch of first generation college students. It’s fantastic to see.” 

Richards was the assistant to the men’s team prior to becoming head coach of the women’s team. This gave him a broad perspective on what both teams focus on, which comes down to working hard in all areas, especially academics. Both the men’s and women’s side have nothing but great support in putting their academics first.  

The women have some big things to look forward to this season. Their team is going to be structured around leaving a solid foundation for the underclassmen to build off next year so they can carry on the mindset of strong work ethics and drive. 

“We’ve got a very solid group of seniors,” Richard said. “It’s their last hurrah, so [they’re] putting those pieces together so they can go out with a bang.”

Richards describes several things to be proud of when speaking of the athletes on the women’s team. There has been growth in their program and their athletes when it comes to their mentality. It has set the pace for how well they do even when being demanded of high efforts every day. 

Senior and team captain Suiluana Sooialo A’au said it can be difficult to manage time as an athlete who has to focus on both being an athlete and a student. However, Sooialo A’au said it’s all worth it.

“It brought me new opportunities,” Sooialo A’au said. “I don’t know what I would be doing if I didn’t play rugby.” 

Sooialo A’au said she’s close with a majority of her teammates. 

Even though Sooialo A’au has a very close bond with her senior class, as team captain, she finds a high responsibility in prioritizing building bonds with the lower classmen. Sooialo A’au hopes the senior class can help give the underclassmen the same good experience with the program as they had in the past. Sooialo A’au has a mass amount of love for her team as well as the game. She is hoping to continue her athletic career after CWU with the USA rugby team. Sooialo A’ua also has high hopes for this season, as she said some encouraging words. 

“I hope the girls trust the program and the coaches,” Sooialo A’au said. “I have a lot of love for this team.”