Rugby club members work hard for possible National Tournament competition

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Collegiate sports consist of the common football, soccer, basketball and tennis teams, but most don’t expect Dixie State College to have a club sport that has Division I talent.

The DSC rugby team has revealed itself in times of hardship and has been proven worthy when it competed at the Brigham Young University Invitational earlier this season. It gained respect as it earned the second place title out of eight teams, Brigham Young University, University of Utah, Southern Utah University, Utah State University, Weber State University, Utah Valley University and Northern Colorado, on Sept. 29. 

Team captain Brad Godinet, a senior integrated studies major from Sandy, said this team is only a club because that is the case for all college rugby teams, but this one specifically is looking to a bright future.

“We have the greatest group of guys that are willing to work hard just for the love of the game,” Godinet said. 

Ian Burgess, a junior biology major from St. George, said if all goes well, then the team is expected to compete in the National Tournament.

“We feel honored and privileged to be able to compete against (top teams),” Burgess said. “Just to be in the same arena as them and get that kind of recognition by playing them is great. We think it’s great for Dixie State rugby.”

Burgess said the team is excited for these upcoming opportunities.

“We’re all thrilled about it, and we’re thrilled about how the season’s been so far,” Burgess said. “We’re really excited to improve and make a name for ourselves nationally.”

The team took third place in the Colorado tournament on the weekend of Oct. 19, and it will have a chance to make a name for itself by doing well in the National Tournament next month. The National Tournament is an annual rugby sevens competition where top college rugby teams compete for the championship title. The championship is organized by USA Rugby and is meant for the popularity of rugby sevens after the announcement in 2009 that rugby was added to the Summer Olympics. This tournament is a major contributor to the selection process for USA Rugby Olympic athletes.

“I’d say the biggest key to a successful rugby program is unity as a team,” Burgess said. “I think that’s what I love about rugby. Other sports like football, soccer, baseball, I think it’s all great, but I think with rugby you have to rely so much on the person next to you. They have to be a confident player, and you have to trust them completely.”

Burgess said in rugby each player has to tackle, pass, run the ball and think independently while communicating and functioning as a unit. The game is much more fluid than others, but styles of game play vary immensely as a result.

Burgess also said the team’s head coach, Jeremy Lister, takes the team to the next level of competition.

“He’s a really experienced rugby player himself and rugby coach, and he’s been playing the game for quite a few years,” Burgess said. “He’s come down and really built a strong program so far. He has a really great mind for rugby and it’s shown.”

Godinet said the fact the team has a giving coach helps the team accomplish goals.

“He skipped going to Hawaii with his family so he could take us to a tournament last weekend in Colorado,” Godinet said. “He sacrificed that to kick it with 15 guys in a van for 12 hours.”

Burgess said Lister keeps the team on the same page by working toward one goal.

“The reason why coach loves rugby is because it transforms guys to be honorable men on and off the rugby pitch,” Burgess said. “This isn’t just about winning games or putting a score on the board. It’s about developing as individuals and developing as a team. That’s all sacrifice, commitment and the love of the game.”

The rugby team is hoping to get more recognition and support from people in the community. It will be participating in local tournaments, hosting community barbecues and putting on local events in the near future.

Any DSC student is able to be a part of the team, whether he is a rugby star or has never played before. Those interested in doing so can find the DSC Men’s Rugby Club on Facebook or contact Lister at practice Tuesday through Friday from 5-7 p.m. at Hansen Stadium for more information.