For UVU rugby’s Mann it’s progression over perfection

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Photo courtesy of Jeffrey Mann

In heartbreaking fashion, the UVU men’s rugby team lost the Rocky Mountain Cup in May of 2016 against a tough Dixie State team in St. George, Utah. It was a disappointing loss for the Wolverines, as they saw all the hard work of the season end in a two-point deficit, with a final score of 26-24.

UVU loosehead Jeffrey Mann felt the pain a little more than most of his teammates, as he exited the game earlier than he would have liked with a broken nose, a re-injured knee and a torn tendon in his finger.

No stranger to challenges in life, Mann took this in stride, deciding to take the season off to heal his body and mind so that he can come back better and more focused than before.

At the tender age of three weeks, Mann was placed up for adoption to a family in Boise, Idaho. Things would take a wild turn for him and his family in 2003 when, at the age of seven, his father decided to do some humanitarian work, and moved the family to Zimbabwe, Africa, for two years.

After returning to Boise in 2005, the family would not get to settle in quite yet. Two years later, Mann’s father was called to serve as a mission president for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the South Africa, Durban mission.

Mann took up football during middle school in Boise, but he discovered that they don’t play the sport in South Africa when he arrived. During his first day at his new school, the headmaster encouraged Mann to play rugby. The following weekend he played his first rugby game, scoring his first try during that match.

“Ever since then, I’ve been hooked,” said Mann.

After his father’s mission service was over, the family moved back to Boise, which allowed Mann to finish high school there. He went on to play one year of rugby in Idaho during his senior year, and helped his team win a state championship. He also was selected to be part of the Idaho All-Star rugby team, which took second place in that tournament.

After graduating from high school, Mann was called to serve a two-year LDS mission in West Africa. After his mission, he thought about several colleges where he could see himself playing rugby, including ISU and Central Washington. After coming to UVU and meeting the coaches, he decided that this was the best fit for him.

Currently, Mann helps coach middle school football, but his passion for rugby drives his devotion to the sport, and he is also coaching high school rugby as he takes the season off.

“After a long season last year, and the year before winning the National Championship at the DII level, I decided to take this year off, to allow myself to get my mind right, get school in order, but most importantly, get my body healthy,” said Mann. “It’s been a process to get my body where it was before I was so banged up and bruised.”

Mann is very excited about the growth and development the rugby team has made, and sees this as a major positive, making him even more excited over his return next season.

A public relations major, Mann hopes to work for a sports agency after college. For now, he is focused on next season, trying to cement his legacy and end his rugby career on a high note.