The men’s rugby team’s recent trip to San Diego wasn’t just about getting out in the sun.
It was a chance to show the rugby community in the U.S. that the Wolverines mean business on the college scene.
Beating the San Diego Warriors‚ a men’s club side‚ on Feb. 7 and Colorado State on Feb. 8 made a statement that the team just isn’t a punching bag for BYU and Utah.
"It was exciting," said coach Gary Brown. "It provided a test on where we are."
The 19-17 victory of Colorado State is a first, at least in recent memory, because the team beat a Division I squad.
"They are a DI program that was solid," Brown said of Colorado State. "We got to face a team that isn’t BYU or Utah."
It didn’t come easy, though, even after Utah Valley went out to a large lead. Colorado State came back to within two, before the Wolverines turned back the rally.
Team captain Tyson Green also said that the win over the Rams was historic. "It was huge," Green said. "It was the first DI team that we have beat, at least in the two years I have played."
The matches did have some downsides as a few players went down with minor injuries. "We took a toll physically," Brown said.
Besides playing, several members of the team stayed around to catch the USA Sevens‚ a two-day tournament featuring 16 international teams help at PETCO Park.
While sevens is a lot different from regular rugby, a seven-person game that is 14 minutes long‚ it still provided an opportunity to watch professionals at work.
"You can learn by just watching the players play at a high level," Green said.
Brown echoed that remark and said he noticed the pre-game preparations of the various teams to see how seriously the professionals took practice.
Plus, the all-day affair allowed the team to wander around the stadium and talk with all sorts of fans.
"It’s not like going to an NFL game where you are stuck in the same spot," Brown said. "You get to move around the stadium and interact with fans all over the world." And Green said, "It’s cool to be at a big tournament all day."
The weekend should help the squad prepare for the home stretch where games against BYU, Utah and the winner of an Idaho State-Utah State matchup are in store.
"It brings the team closer together," Brown said.
The March 8 home match against the winner of Idaho State versus Utah State tilt is especially important as the Wolverines would earn a spot in the Pacific Coast playoffs with a victory.