CWU men’s rugby and their historic run

Tre’Jon Henderson, Staff Reporter

The CWU men’s rugby team fell short in the D1A Quarterfinal to the #4 BYU Cougars with a score of 31-62. The team didn’t find a way to come back from a 31-point deficit, ending their historic run.

But that isn’t all that tells the story of this legendary team at CWU. The men’s team achieved the status of being the highest ranked men’s rugby teams at CWU, having been #1 ranked.

Head Coach Todd Thornley spoke about his team’s performance and the historic season,It’s a tough way for us to finish the season. Credit to BYU, they showed up to play and we did not. We cannot win games without owning the collision and we got owned there. Good luck to them the rest of the way.” 

Thornley continued to praise his team’s success despite the tough ending: “I couldn’t be prouder of this group of men, they cemented themselves in history and should be proud of what they accomplished.’’

The men’s team ended their season with a record of 8-2, starting their historic season with a win versus British Columbia, who is highly seen as the best rugby team in the North according to NCCA and there ranking over the past couple of years. 

Assistant coach James Clout spoke on what the season was like and how special the team was.

’’We held ourselves to a certain standard this year, we stood behind each other like brothers,’’ Clout said.‘’This group of guys implemented what hard work and dedication can do for a team. We made sure to stay humble and keep the humility low as the season progressed; it was amazing to see.’’

This was the farthest any CWU rugby team went since 2014. Senior wing Isaiah Saldana commented on what it was like to play with his team.

‘’It starts off with our coach, he’s [an] amazing man,” Saldana said. “We had a lot of older guys this year, a lot of seniors and fifth year guys that he’s been with throughout the program, so it was tight from the start.’’

Saldana was asked what was so special about this team this year. 

“We always talked about going into dark places for each other,” Saldana said. “We talked about that little voice you hear in the back of your head that tells you [to] stop and trained ourselves to shy away from it.It’s like Coach Thornley says, you work hard you get paid, and that’s all we’re about is trying to get paid and win games, it was all our focus all season and we’ll continue it in the sevens tournament.”

Junior Center Tiai Vavao also commented on what it felt like to have the season they had. 

‘’It’s not the way we wanted it to end, but I’m just happy to be a part of something special,” Vavao said.‘’Our coach always talked about holding each other accountable and high standards, it’s just a team I will never forget I’m glad we can down in history as one of the best to do it.’’

The CWU men’s team now turns its attention to 7’s competition as they will compete for a national championship in Houston on May 5th.

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