It’s game day. The smell of hotdogs and burgers permeate the parking lot. Fans fill the stands, decked out in maroon and gold. Excitement fills the air as the countdown to kickoff fades to zero.
But wait – Loyola doesn’t have a football team!
Loyola’s Men and Women’s Rugby teams defeated University of Illinois Chicago’s teams. The women won 34 – 5 and the men, 43 – 22.
Club sports differ from official university sports in that they don’t receive funding from the school for advertising and scholarships. However, for this special event, the school and the clubs’ alumni association helped pay for equipment and advertising.
Players distributed posters, flyers and buttons before the game to help put over one hundred fans in the stands. “It was much more than usual,” Mike Noto, sophomore, Men’s Rugby Vice-president said. “They inspired us to come together as a team.”
Inspiration also came in the form of Matt Durffe, sophomore of the Men’s Rugby Team who had a “hat- trick.” In Rugby, more than three scores by one player in a game is considered extraordinary and labelled a “hat-trick.”
For his last score, the ball was first placed for a quick kick by Collin Mcguinty. A series of pitches, or backwards passes, lead Durffe to the try zone – comparable to the end zone in football.
Durffe’s fourth score was met by an explosion of cheers from the crowd. “I have never seen a rugby game before, but I knew that play was epic,” said Therese Bennet, 19, sophomore.
Both the Men and Women’s teams defeated University of Illinois Chicago at Saturday’s Homecoming celebration. The women won 34 – 5 and the men, 43 – 22.
Event coordinator and injured Men’s Rugby player, James Jaeger, related the success of the event to the progress of the clubs. “We never get that kind of attention around campus. It really is a big deal for Loyola Rugby.”
Homecoming marked a prominent turn in recovery for Loyola Rugby. A few years ago, the club was discredited by their Alumni Association because of a poor reputation. They lost funding and respect from their supportive Alums. “We have been working to dig our selves out of a hole and be respected by the University,” said Jaeger.
At Homecoming, the clubs were using University equipment, which is a big step in the right direction according to Jaeger.
“It meant that the University was taking us seriously,” said Miranda Mc Osker, Women’s team captain.
Both clubs hope that the weekends publicity will spark a bigger interest in the sport. “There were a ton of people that came to our game that had never seen a rugby match before,” said Mc Osker. “They could be potential players or fans for our team.”
Loyola Rugby clubs, combined, have a total of over 50 players. Other school teams are not as numerous. Last time the Men’s team had an away game, they had to fill in the opposing team with their own players.
For this reason, Loyola’s Homecoming was a major event for more than just the Loyola Rugby clubs. The game sparked hope that the sport can continue to build on and off campus. “Rugby is definitely a sport that is on students’ and parents’ radar now,” Mc Osker said.