In their first season as a club sport, the Case Western Reserve University Rugby Football Club returned home Sunday night as one of the top 8 teams in the 2016 National Small College Rugby Organization (NSCRO) Challenge Cup Playoffs. The Challenge Cup Playoffs are annual playoff pitting top teams from across the country in one of the premier rugby tournaments in the country.
The weekend began for the team as they traveled to Fishers, Indiana on Friday night, kicking off a memorable team weekend. Play began Saturday when the Spartans took on the Three Rivers Collegiate Rugby Conference representative, Fairmont State Falcons. The team played through a slow start and a short bench to come away with a 54 - 14 win. Hooker Dave Cunningham and Flanker Karl Johnson each scored their first collegiate rugby tries. In addition, Tyler Korenyi-Both returned to play this weekend, after taking a leave of absence from the team, turning in one of the best performances of his career.
The win advanced the Spartans to the Elite 8 round on Sunday against the Bethel College Pilots. The Pilots were fresh off of a 115 - 0 win over Minnesota State University - Moorehead on Saturday. While the game started off close, the Pilots proved to be too much for the Spartans, as they won 73 - 3, to advance to the National Semi-Final. Fly-Half Jackson Pilliod scored the only points of the day for the Spartans on a penalty conversion.
The loss Sunday ended the 2016 Campaign for the Spartans. While the loss was a bitter pill to swallow, ending their first full season as one of the Top 8 teams in the country is a tremendous achievement for the team, one which they will look to build on.
Congratulations to all 26 men of the Spartan Rugby Club who practiced and played in games for the team this year, and the 2 coaches who put in countless hours to make this season the success it was.
Note from the Author:
As the starting tight head prop and exec board member, this year has been has been a tremendously successful season for myself and my team, on and off the field. I am incredibly proud to be a Spartan Rugger, which would not be possible without the dedication of Captain Ray Gajkowski, who was instrumental in the founding, growth, and success of the club. Thanks for everything Ray, and best of luck post graduation!