Men’s Rugby Club ends season making improvements

February 21, 2008

by Jennifer Eddington

The Men’s Rugby Club wrapped up its season last weekend with a loss on the road against the University of Louisiana-Lafayette to finish the year with a 2-1 overall record.

Despite the loss, Drew Thomsak, coach for the men’s rugby team and a Tech alumnus, said the season leaves ample room for growth next year.

“Even with only four weeks of practice, they put up wins against teams that beat them last year,” Thomsak said. “They are a lot more organized and the number of young guys out there is amazing.”

Blake Hosli, vice president of the rugby club and a senior electrical engineering major, said the season began with a 35-5 victory over Loyola University-New Orleans.

Hosli said the win provided a boost for a team composed of about 60 percent rookies.

“Every game we always talk about what was good and what was bad,” Hosli said. “There wasn’t a whole lot that was bad. It was more like ‘congratulations on your first win.’ It was most of the team’s first game ever playing rugby.”

Hosli said the team came together during the second game of the season, a home game against Tulane University-New Orleans, for a 70-14 win.

Thomsak attributes wins to the team’s ball retention.

Hosli said while the 24-0 loss to ULL that ended the season was disheartening, the team’s defeat against last year’s Deep South Conference winners still indicated improvement despite inexperience.

“We played harder in that game, maybe not smarter,” Hosli said. “The ULL coach said we have come a long way. He saw a big difference in how we play and how strong we are.”

Mike DiCarlo, president of the rugby club and a junior forestry major, said he has seen an overall improvement during the time he has played at Tech.

“Fitness is better than it’s ever been, so is ball handling and game smarts,” DiCarlo said. “We took advantage of the opportunities we had, capitalized on them and turned out to be a pretty good ball club.”

Hosli said much of the improvement should be credited to having Thomsak as a coach this year.

“It’s a big help when you have someone outside that doesn’t play and can watch you from the sidelines and see how you run things,” Hosli said.

DiCarlo said he has high expectations for next year considering how well the rookies performed this year, the positive outlook for retention rates and a sponsorship totaling over $3,000 from the National Guard.

Hosli said he hopes there will be enough players to field two opposing sides during practice. He said this will mean enough members to compete for positions and make an overall more competitive team.

Hosli said the club is well-organized now and has attracted more participants and spectators. With one of the only fields specifically designated for rugby in the South, Hosli said the team has the facilities and is capable of building a really competitive team.

“We’re getting there,” Hosli said. “It’s good though, the slower you get there, the better foothold you have when you arrive.”