NMHU RFU Vatos Rugby Update October 15, 2013
The Vatos finished the 2012-2013 season strong as the regional NM/AZ Champions and in the National Men’s Division 3 Sweet Sixteen in Dallas last May. They lost to regional champions from Kansas City and San Francisco and ended the season ranked 15th of 238 teams in the nation.
“We are about 80% a college-eligible team (students only) who have done well playing the big boys in the Men’s Division 3. At the national level against unbeaten men’s teams, our youth, inexperience, and fitness levels limit us. We cannot continue to rely on importing skilled alumni to compete at the highest level,” noted volunteer faculty adviser Dick Greene.
Thus, the team voted to play their college peers and enter the 250-member, USA Rugby sanctioned, National Small College Rugby Organization (NSCRO), specifically the 10-member Frontier League. As college rugby is rapidly growing, the Frontier League basically includes most of the RMAC schools. Players must be true student athletes and enrolled in school in good standing. Student athletes have seven years to play five years of college rugby. “This is inclusive of nontraditional students. It fits us well,” Greene added.
In the last three weeks, alumni and new volunteer coach, PJ Trujillo, and the Vatos (3-0) have traveled (at no cost to NMHU) over 1500 mountain miles and 28 hours to Colorado Mesa University (29-24) and Western State College (26-24). At home last weekend they outscored the engineers from nationally ranked Colorado School of Mines 29-14 to gain sole possession of first place in the Frontier League.
“With a good blend of upper classmen like Jake Whiting, Adrian McDuff, and Joey Ivey and rookies like Kevon Williams and Leonard Arias, the Vatos are fast, forcible, and fun to watch. With more fitness and luck they could make it to the national playoffs next April. I am proud of the lads. Quality rugby will be a lasting memory of doing something well. It will keep little NMHU with its solid national reputation. More importantly, rugby helps to generate university graduates and hard gentlemen with skills and a general work ethic,” Greene noted.
The independent Vatos travel to Albuquerque on this Saturday and Sunday to defend their championship in the 42th High Desert Classic at Bullhead Park. Games begin at 10 a.m. and last all day. The next Frontier League game is at Perkins on Saturday, Oct. 26 against UCCS. Kickoff is at 2 p.m. and everyone is welcome to the free games and post-game socials hosting the visiting teams. New players are always welcome. Please contact Coach Trujillo at 505.459.7016.