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The CU men’s rugby team took on the University of Utah in the first round of the National Sweet 16 tournament, which is nothing new for the Buffs.
“It’s our second time to the Sweet 16 in two years,” said Sean Edris, head coach for the CU men’s rugby team. “But it’s only our third time in 15 years. So it’s quite an accomplishment.”
The road to becoming the champions of the Western region and to getting the Sweet 16 was not easy for the Buffs as they had to face Kansas State, Wyoming, Louisiana State University and the Air Force Academy in the Western regional playoffs.
Senior Ian Todd said that the key to beating Wyoming and the other teams in the Western regional tournament was the team’s fitness.
“In particular, I think it was our fitness that helped us win,” Todd said. “The first half (against Wyoming) we had uphill and the snow in our face. The second half was downhill and good weather and we just started using our fitness to roll over them.”
The Air Force game was an especially important game for the Buffs because Edris sent his Buffs to play against his alma mater, which is coached by one of his old teammates.
Todd said that his head coach was especially fired up.
“It was one of the greatest feelings beating Air Force,” Todd said. “We all know Coach (Edris) wants us to step up as hard as we can against Air Force, and we definitely hear him more from the sidelines during Air Force.”
Edris said the season was hard fought and that the team faced tough games where they had to come back in the second half to win.
There was one game in particular where he said he knew the team could get to where it is today.
“We’ve played BYU 20 times, 15 in regular games and 5 in tournaments, and we have never beaten them,” Edris said. “We’ve never even had a lead against BYU. I told the kids before the game that it was going to be the toughest game they had ever played in their lives because this was a game I thought they could win, and that they had to realize their potential to beat them.”
At halftime, the Buffs held their first ever lead against BYU with a score of 20-10.
Edris said that once again, fitness was the winning factor for the Buffs.
“They tied the score 20-20 in the second half,” Edris said. “We scored the last 8 points and beat them 28-22. It think that’s when the kids really realized we had something special this year.”
Heading into the Sweet 16, Edris said that his team has fought to get where they are and that they are more than just rugby players.
“The guys do a lot of work on their own,” Edris said. “We have kids who have jobs and have to juggle their academic and working schedules so that they can make practices and team workouts. I just think they’re really unsung heroes on campus.”
Contact Campus Press Staff Writer Philip Fisher at Philip.Fisher@colorado.edu.