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Men’s Rugby Clinches Conference Title

The Notre Dame College men’s rugby team has clinched the Division 3 Great Lakes Conference title in the National Small College Rugby Organization. The Falcons defeated Calvin College, 20-13, and advanced to the Central Region Championship to be held in Cottage Grove, Wis., on Nov. 9 and 10.

“Our team played the best we have seen them all year, working as a cohesive unit, never wavering from their commitment to our style of play, and having never-say-never attitude,” Director of Rugby Brian McCue said. “I am really proud of the winning tradition that has been established by the Notre Dame College rugby program.”

Notre Dame hosted the Great Lakes Rugby Conference Playoffs this past weekend after it won the East Division Championship in its inaugural season with an unblemished 5-0 record. The tournament consisted of a four-team bracket featuring NDC, Denison University, Cedarville University and Calvin College (Mich.).

The Falcons defeated Denison, 23-5, in the semis on Saturday before taking down Calvin College at Korb Field on Sunday. They will now face the University of Wisconsin-Parkside in the Central Region play-offs in Cottage Grove on Saturday, Nov. 10. Parkside, led by Coach Todd Streeter, is returning to this event after finishing second last year. The winner will have a shot at a USA Rugby National Championship.

That would be an incredible feat for a program that didn’t exist six months ago. Notre Dame introduced rugby as a men’s and women’s scholarship club sport this fall. The men’s team is made up of 23 student-athletes, some with previous rugby experience as well as some newcomers to the sport.

This combination of experience levels and personalities clicked from the start as the Falcons have tallied seven consecutive victories including regular season wins against Ashland University, Cleveland State University, Hiram College, The Ohio State University and John Carroll University. In doing so, the Falcons decisively outscored their opponents by a total score of 184-71 (NDC defeated Hiram by forfeit).

NDC initiated its rugby program in response to the growing nationwide attraction of club sports and the powerful influence they have in attracting and retaining students. Club sports engage students with a shared interest who may decide to switch from a college varsity program. Club teams also build camaraderie and offer alternative sports that other schools do not provide.

As an added bonus, scholarships are available for new students who qualify and participate in club sports, in a similar way as provided to students who participate in the College’s band, choir and theatre programs.