Veteran squad primed for play

The rugby team skirmishing during its preseason. Photo credit: Brandon Foster

The 2014-2015 Chico State men’s rugby team welcomes back 14 starters in a game played with 15.

“It’s good to have all these veterans out here,” senior Charlie Brennan said. “We also have good depth in our rookie class. There is a lot of new faces out here.”

Among all the returners, seniors outside center John Wesley Davis, eight man Brennan, fly half J.P. McKinley, flanker Ian McLens and junior flanker Oisin Collins were named All-League.

“We’ve all played together for a couple of years now so the chemistry on the field is so strong,” McKinley said.

The team runs a seven-man league in the fall that is used for exhibition games. From there, it quickly transitions into 15-man official games in the spring. It’s no surprise the Chico State men’s rugby team is so successful as it practices year-round.

“We are about to get going with our offseason training,” Brennan said. “We want to get our revenge against Stanford.”

Stanford University handed the Wildcats the only regular season loss last season. That game is fueling some motivation for their rematch. The ‘Cats finished up with a record of 10-2 and are on the move to be just as good this year.

The team competes against Division I schools. UC Davis and Sacramento State will be entering the league this year, two teams Chico has seen before.

“Right now you just want to come out and win the Pacific West Conference,” Davis said. “From there we want to make a deep run in the playoffs.”

While getting out early is key, it is important to make sure everyone isn’t worn out.

“Our biggest thing is to keep everyone healthy and committed,” Davis said.

“Staying injury free is big,” McKinley said. “We have a long season and it’s difficult to stay healthy in a sport like rugby.”

Every October, the team schedules an alumni weekend that includes some competitive rugby as well as fundraising.

“It’s fun going up against some of the guys that were seniors when I was a freshman and sophomore,” Davis said.

Students can catch the team practicing out on Yolo Field, polishing up its game. The team is always looking for new players to join. It welcomes everyone and are willing to show them the ways of the game.

Ryan Grady can be reached at [email protected] or @RyanGrady23 on Twitter.