Spring sports season has begun on campus yet again, with the return of California Lutheran University’s Knights Rugby team—a club team here on campus that is on its way to playoffs yet again.
Classifying as a Division 2 rugby team, the Cal Lutheran Knights are different than other sports teams because they rely on programs such as the involvement fair to recruit athletes, as well as having a volunteer coach, neither of which has stopped or diminished their success over the years.
“We’re a club team, so that means all participation is voluntary,” said senior Brian Alex. “The point of rugby is that we’re all supposed to get together and be serious and competitive, but you can still balance school and whatnot if you can’t make it to practice.”
After ending its last season in a loss against Loyola Marymount University in the first round of playoffs, the Knights are back and ready to win, having spent most of the weeks leading up to the season in training with contact or non-contact practices.
So far, the 2018 season is going well as the Knights have played four games thus far in, only losing one.
“We just beat our rivals, APU (Azusa Pacific University), but it came at the cost of one of our seniors who had a career ending injury, which was really rough on the team. We also were able to come back and beat San Diego last weekend and now we’re first in league,” Alex said.
Having been on the team for four years now, Alex is excited to see where his team’s hard work and dedication will get them this season as they head into playoffs.
“Our first game was pretty rough, we had about six injuries on the team, so we had to play down a lot of guys, but even with that we still held our own, we still ended up losing the game, but it’s been our only loss this season so far and we just keep coming back and fighting,” Alex said.
Another senior on the team is Auston Kniseley, who was recruited by his roommate during his first year at Cal Lutheran and has since fallen in love with the sport.
“The growth, helping everyone else get better and ultimately seeing our team climb the ranks in the division is what has kept me coming back, as well as the brotherhood,” Kniseley said.
“We’re all a group of friends and every year we’re a tight group and so especially as a freshman coming in, it’s an easy way to make a connection, and the sport is just an awesome sport,” Alex said.
The Knights have been able to recruit many players to their team from friends of friends, as well as other athletes on respective sports teams at Cal Lutheran to join them in their “brotherhood”.
“The brotherhood is just always something you look forward in coming back to every year,” said junior Jarrett Rodriguez said. “I went from football to rugby—there’s a lot of hitting, but a lot more aerobic fitness which is pretty sick, and the sport itself is just awesome.”
As for the rest of their season, the Knights are on their way to playoffs after a huge win against University of California at San Diego last weekend.
“We just clinched our playoff spot as the number one seed, now we want to go into playoffs and just win it, and then eventually go to nationals in Nor Cal,” Rodriguez said.
The Knights’ rugby league is based on a group of schools in Southern California, including University of California at Irvine, University of California at Riverside, UC San Diego, Point Loma Nazarene University and Azusa Pacific.
“If we win our next home game then we will get into the national tournament and travel up to Northern California to play,” Alex said.
The Knights rugby team will take on Loyola Marymount next Saturday, March 10 at Cal Lutheran.