Buffalo's Supreme Team
Students finally have something to cheer about.
American Rugby News is reporting that the UB men's rugby team is currently ranked the number one club team in the country.
UB Rugby competes in the New York State Rugby Conference (NYRSC) and is divided into Division I and Division III. Currently, the DI team is in the Sweet 16 National Championship. Buffalo remains undefeated with a 7-0 record, including a non-league win against the University of Toronto, ranking just ahead of second-seed Florida State (5-1) and third-seed Florida (4-1).
Buffalo defeated Syracuse 24-19 in regional competition this fall and then decimated Binghamton 36-5 to clinch the State Championship.
This year's National Final Four will be held in Colorado during the spring. The Bulls will have to triumph in the Eastern regional playoffs before packing bags for Colorado.
Rugby is a sport of passion and true athleticism. Brandon Wood, a senior civil engineering major and president of UB Rugby, explained why he loves the game.
"My favorite part about rugby is the fluidity of the game," Wood said. "The play never stops, much like soccer, so you constantly have to adapt to what's in front of you. You get to play both sides of the ball, offense and defense."
The fall season has shown that both the DI and DIII teams hold a lot of depth. The DIII team was seeded first in the playoffs this fall with a game one victory against Syracuse and a game two victory over Paul Smith. Both wins led the Bulls to the state finals, where they were defeated by Ithaca.
The DIII team provides new players the means to develop a solid fundamental skill set while also giving them a chance to learn and experience the sensation of the game. If a player performs at a level that pleases the coaches, he can be brought to play DI or be on reserve to play in case of injuries or other issues.
Fall DIII player and current DI reserve player Bob Royal, a senior communication major, says that the intensity, hard hitting and non-stop action are what make the game enjoyable.
"My favorite part of the sport is the camaraderie," Royal said. "The guys I line up with every week are my brothers and I know that they will die to move that ball one inch forward for me because they know I will do the same for them. It's great to be a part of a team that is passionate about its sport, has drive to succeed and is as close to family as you can get. That's why it's a great sport for guys to play."
Each player is on an offensive and defensive holding, which means that each player is accountable for every point on the scoreboard. There are no wide receivers, quarterbacks or linebackers, according to Royal.
Both DI and DIII teams will continue games in the beginning of February. During the spring season, the teams will play non-league games and tournaments to prepare for nationals, according to John Geoghan, a senior accounting major and treasurer of the rugby club.
"During the time off over the winter, we have an in-depth strength and conditioning workout plan in place," Geoghan said. "Players are required to benchmark themselves throughout to ensure we are staying fit."
Buffalo defend its undefeated record against Southern Connecticut this spring on April 30 and May 1. Teams will be battling for the East championship over the two-day weekend; the winner of Buffalo's game will play either Harvard or Northeastern to proceed on to the Final Four.
The rugby teams are always looking for new players and athletes to join. Geoghan says that numerous players currently starting for the Division I team had no prior rugby experience before UB. As a student club, there are no tryouts or team cuts, but one must be a full-time undergraduate student to join. Interested students can look to www.ubrugby.com for more information.
"We have approximately 50 guys on the team," Geoghan said. "Our home field [referred to as a pitch in rugby] is right across from the Ellicott Complex on the west side. It is next to the tennis courts, and the distinct ‘H'-shaped goal posts can be easily spotted from the road."
Over the years, UB Rugby has consistently been ranked as a top 25 USA Rugby team, but it has never been on top.
The majority of the games are on Saturdays at 1 p.m.