Wolves’s rugby shuts out the Willamette Bearcats

Lake Larsen | Sports Editor

The post-season was at stake for the Wolves as players took the field for Western’s last regular season rugby match. Willamette entered the game with the ability to slam the door on the hopes of a playoff berth for the Wolves. But Western had other plans.

Prior to the game, the Wolves sat at second place in National Small College Rugby Organization standings behind Central Oregon Community College. If they beat the Bearcats, the Wolves would clinch a second place spot. And if COCC or Western wins the bid to host the playoffs, the Wolves will extend their season into postseason. With this in mind, Western rugby knew this match was a must win.

The first minutes of the game were a defensive slugfest as neither team wanted to give an inch. Through the use of brute force, Western broke the stalemate, fighting their way down to score the first try and nailed the conversion to make it 7-0.

Time ticked away as both teams defenses refused to give an inch to each other. After another defensive chess match, Western broke out of a scrum and battered their way to another score with a conversion. After this, the floodgates were opened.

Back to back to back breakaway runs from the Wolves led to three more tries, bringing the score to a lopsided 33-0.

“We were really fluid and we had a lot of compatibility between us so we were just feeding off each other. We just had a strong connection through the game,” said senior exercise science major Riley Bardes on the offense’s play.

However, this utter domination from the Wolves offense perhaps overshadowed the stellar defensive play from the Wolves.

“I think we did better on defense than we did on offense,” said Bardes. “We held them to nothing.”

Western’s defense gave up zero points and never even let the Bearcats past the half.

Going into halftime, signs of the physicality of the game started to show. Willamette, who already had a small bench of reserve players, started to see athletes fall victim to injury.

After the half the referee announced that Willamette would be unable to finish the game due to their not having enough players healthy to field a full team. After this announcement, Western broke their huddle, looking at the scoreboard with smiles, knowing that the 33-0 shutout in the final game of the regular season may pave the way for the Wolves to the playoffs.


Contact the author at howlsports@wou.edu

Photo courtesy of Ashlynn Norton