Men’s rugby prepares for a challenging schedule


Jacob Thompson

Jack Wendling

Evan Couch, Staff Reporter

CWU men’s rugby is gearing up to start their first full season since 2020, where they are scheduled to face some tough opponents. 

Head coach Todd Thornley said he is looking forward to a full season.

“It’s awesome,” Thornley said. “The reality is there’s a stretch in that schedule which is probably the toughest in the country in terms of the opposition we’re playing.” 

According to Thornley, this season will really challenge this team in terms of their rankings.

“Four teams we have in that stretch of games are ranked ahead of us,” Thornley said. “We’re either going to go down or up.”

According to, CWU ranked number seven for the final fall rankings in 2021. CWU is scheduled to play University of California Berkeley, Saint Mary’s College, United States Military Academy (Army) and Brigham Young University, all of which are ranked ahead of CWU in the nation’s top 10.

“This is our most comprehensive, complete and competitive schedule,” Thornley said.

The matchup against Army is one in particular Thornley said he thinks will be their toughest challenge.

“Army is playing really good rugby,” Thornley said. “They’re probably, in my eyes, the number one team in the country.” 

The Wildcats will travel to West Point, New York to cap off the regular season as they play Army on their alumni day, March 26.

“They’re already pretty passionate,” Thornley said. “Those games are already pretty intense and full on, but then you throw in a bunch of their alumni cheering them on and we’re on the road. I don’t think the challenge gets any higher.”

Thornley said the team is up for the challenging schedule and it’s what’s pushing them to get better. 

“That’s exactly what our group wants and … what’s driving them along right now is thinking about that stretch of games,” Thornley said. 

Thornley’s expectations and hopes are understandably high for this season.

“I want to win every game, that’s why we are doing this,” Thornley said. 

Thornley said as long as the team is constantly improving and working together, they will be in good shape regardless of the outcomes. He said he relies on his team captains to unite and support this team. 

“We’ve got a couple of really good captains who are totally on the ball and totally on the spot and have a really good pulse of the team,” Thornley said. 

Fifth year senior and team captain Ivan Pula said he is also looking forward to the challenges and experience these opponents present for him and his teammates.

“Going up against opponents like these provide some valuable experience for these younger players,” Pula said. “It also provides some of our older players a chance to test their metal and see where their training has gotten them so far.”

Pula said that games such as Army offer a good measuring stick for them as a team and for the program in general. Regardless of rankings however, Pula said they like to treat each opponent as if they are equal. 

“For us, whether ranked or unranked [team], every single game is important,” Pula said. “We take a look at each game as if they’re the best in the nation.” 

Pula said the team goal this year is to prepare the best that they can and focus on the little things and things they can control.

“Our focus as a team is to focus on the small details,” Pula said. “Preparing the best that we can in order to walk into every single week knowing that we did as much as we could and did the best that we could, so we can go on the field and play without any regrets.”

The Wildcats will travel to Seattle on Jan. 26 to play the Seattle Rugby Club and start the regular season.