Men’s Rugby claims Div. III Cup
Coach Christie credited with turning team around
Going 5-1 in the regular fall season and 8-1 in the spring, the MIT Men’s Rugby team took its awesome streak one step further by winning the Division III Championship at the North East Rugby Football Union Cup Tournament. MIT went down to the tournament in Newport, R.I. on May 14 as the second seed in their division. In the first match the Engineers overtook the division’s third seed team, Springfield, scoring and converting tries throughout the game. Despite 10 points being awarded to and earned by Springfield as the result of MIT penalties, MIT won the match 29-10.
MIT played their second match against Saratoga, who they fell to in the fall 22-30 whilst competing for the league’s title. MIT redeemed this tough loss by shutting out Saratoga at the NERFU tournament, scoring four tries in the first half and one in the second. With conversions, the final score was 34-0, giving the cup to MIT.
The team’s recent success has mostly been attributed to hiring an experienced coach who does not also play for the team. Men’s Rugby is a club sport at MIT and also competes against local non-collegiate teams. This allows the team to draw from an ample talent pool of MIT affiliates as well as students. However, as recently as two years ago, the team was doing so poorly it was threatened with being dropped from Division III.
With the recent acquisition of coach Sean Christie — who also coached Northeastern to a Division I collegiate national championship in the fall — the team has been steadily improving, culminating in their recent win. According to the team’s vice president, Jason Shepherd, the successful season has resulted in increased player commitment to the team. Having a coach has also given the team a stronger ability to train new players. Not once has anyone crossed the MIT try-line in four games, just one of their successful accomplishments.
With this win, the MIT Men’s Rugby Team is looking forward to the fall season. “We have high expectations for this coming fall season and are aiming for Nationals,” Shepherd said.