Rugby finishes third at conference 7’s tournament

Baylor rugby gathers during a timeout to talk strategy during a match at the Red River Collegiate Conference 7's Championship. Photo courtesy of Jordan Maat

By Branson Hardcastle | Reporter

Baylor rugby placed third on Saturday at the Red River Collegiate Conference 7’s Championship at Texas Christian University.

In 7’s, the field is more open and the halves are shorter, but the play is much faster. In 15’s, there are more players on the field and the halves are longer.

The team started the tournament strong as it beat the University of Houston 28-0. The momentum of the first game didn’t carry over, as the club fell to Texas A&M in the next game 26-7.

Houston junior inside center and team captain Stewart Morris said Texas A&M was able to take advantage of Baylor’s mistakes, but with some more discipline, the Bears could have had more success.

In its next match, the rugby club downed the University of Texas 19-7. By beating the Longhorns, the club moved into the semifinal game against Arkansas. The club fell to Arkansas 26-21 in what was one of the most exciting games of the day. The game went into a sudden death overtime with the Razorbacks edging Baylor at the end.

Morris said he was most proud of the team’s performance against Arkansas.

“[Arkansas] was our best game. Everything came together in that game,” Morris said. “We lost, but if the ball had just bounced in a different way we could have won. It was one of the best 7’s games I have ever played in.”

In the third and fourth place game, the rugby club faced off against Louisiana State University. The Bears came out on top with a final score of 28-14 to bring home third place at the tournament.

With a third-place finish, there still is a chance that Baylor rugby could qualify for the national 7’s tournament. The club won’t find out until next semester if it will be invited to attend the tournament.

Morris said the team is excited they played well over the weekend and he hopes the momentum will carry over to the next match.

“We finished on a high note and we are ready to keep working hard and improve on our game plan,” Morris said. “We are excited to get back to 15’s and we will have to be patient trying to get back into the hang of 15’s.”

The club will look to switch gears and go back to 15’s until May when the national 7’s tournament takes place.

Houston sophomore fullback Ethan Battaglini said the mindset of the team will likely change as they prepare for the 15’s season.

“The goal is going to stay the same. We are going to go out there and compete. We want to be faster and hit harder than our opponents and try to be the best we can,” Battaglini said. “We are going to look more towards actual contact, because in 7’s, it is a pretty wide field so you are focused more on speed rather than power. Now that we have 15’s coming up, we are going to be working on impact plays and try to hit harder than our opponents.”

Baylor rugby will play its next game Oct. 27 at home against the University of Texas. This will be its first 15’s conference game of the season as it looks to take down the Longhorns.

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