Western’s men’s rugby A-team kicked off the 2013 rugby season with a blowout victory over the University of Washington Huskies 57-0 on Saturday, Jan. 26.
Freshman Quinton Willms helped lead the team to their win, at one point running more than 34 meters to score, despite a badly bruised muscle in his knee. Willms racked up 27 points for the Vikings in the game.
All three of Western’s men’s rugby teams won their matches, marking the first time in history Western has ever fielded three men’s teams in one season, said Paul Horne, director of rugby at Western. The first matches of the season were a resounding success, and bode well for the rest of the season, Horne said.
“[The Vikings’ A-team] had a very good game plan,” Horne said. “Probably the most obvious thing was our match fitness was much greater than [the Huskies’] and that really showed in the last 20 minutes when we scored another three or four tries.”
This sentiment was echoed by junior winger Ryan Lilla, who said the Vikings are much more physically fit than many other competing teams. Along with three days a week of practice, players are dedicated to working out on their own time, ensuring they are in peak physical condition, he said.
Western’s crushing, disciplined offense paced the game as they consistently maintained control of the pitch. In what Lilla said was his favorite play of the game, senior Robert Boenish scored a try off the right sideline that impressed not only his teammates, but also the crowd of screaming Western rugby fans, who braved the cold and freezing rain to cheer on the Vikings.
The weather didn’t have any effect on the players, and it made them work harder, Horne said.
The Vikings hit some speed bumps with two yellow cards in the game. One was given to their captain, senior fullback Matt Jensen, and the other to sophomore center Giovanni Trujillo. Despite the warnings, both players proved admirable offensive assets, keeping pressure on UW’s defense during the course of the game.
The Vikings are working on maintaining their control, and the team could’t afford to be left shorthanded if a player racks up two yellow cards and gets sent off, Horne said.
“Our players have worked really hard to buy into the pattern we’re teaching them, and we’re able to move the Huskies around the field a little bit and manipulate their defense,” he said.
Horne hopes the rest of the season follows the lead of Saturday’s game, and said the team’s sense of togetherness is the main reason for success. Their next game is on Feb. 2 at Western Oregon University.