Rugby ends historic season
Published: Sunday, October 28, 2012
Updated: Sunday, October 28, 2012 15:10
As far as rebuilding efforts go, you can’t do much better than the DePaul men’s rugby team.
After several years of mediocrity, the club has risen up to become one of the most dominant forces in local club rugby.
An undisciplined team with little success has transformed into a juggernaut that puts up video game-type numbers against its overwhelmed opponents.
“We’ve kind of come out of a hole where we were a really bad team that loved to party, and now we’re a really good team that loves to party,” team captain Matt Tunney joked.
The numbers don’t lie. Though they barely resembled a legitimate team in recent years, the Blue Demons absolutely annihilated every team they played in 2012. DePaul went 5-1 with the lone loss coming in the playoffs by a score of 21-19. In the other five games, the Blue Demons outscored the opposition by a near-unimaginable margin of 387-5.
In their first game of the season against Lewis University, they put up 127 points to the Flyers’ zero, eclipsing their total amount of points scored during the entire 2011 season.
Tunney believes that the improvement from previous years is attributed more to the overall commitment of the players as opposed to finding better talent.
“I think the veteran players stepped up. They were a lot more serious. The organization was there so the backbone was there, and the play came along with that,” said Tunney. “There was just kind of a new vibe this year on the team because we did turn it around so much.”
For the first time, the team had a coach, Gary Seals, who played professional rugby overseas and imparted his knowledge on the team. The veterans were able to recruit more players than ever and used their success to bring in players during the season.
Matt Harder plays flanker and forward for the team, and said that the best part of improving is gaining the respect of teams everywhere.
“Now as we pick up some clout and some respect, not just within the university but within the city, these men’s teams we scrimmage against see that we’re blowing teams out 127-0, bringing 35 guys to a game to play – that’s never happened here before,” said Harder.
As the team has matured, so has the pride involved with being a Blue Demon.
“It’s easy for us to talk about our club because we have something to say about it,” Harder said. “It’s not like, ‘Yeah, I play rugby,’ it’s, ‘Yeah, I play DePaul rugby.’”
The future looks bright for a club team that was down in the dumps just a year ago. The veteran players have taken control of the team and the younger talent is eager to get on the field and play. Through it all, they still find a way to have fun and keep it classy.
“Rugby is a hooligan’s sport played by gentlemen,” said team president Jake Devries. “It’s like a cult. There are a bunch of traditions. You play the game, and then you go out for a few drinks with the other team. It’s a lot of fun and it’s why we play.”
It seems like DePaul rugby has turned a corner. It’s time to take notice, because the culture of the team and the mature attitude of the players could ensure sustained success for years to come.