CWU men’s rugby is gearing up to start its first full season since 2020, where they will face some strong opponents.
Head coach Todd Thornley said he is looking forward to a full season.
“It’s great,” Thornley said. “The reality is there’s a stretch in that schedule, which is probably the toughest in the country in terms of the opponents we’re playing.”
According to Thornley, this season will really challenge this team in terms of their rankings.
“Four teams that we have in that series of matches are ahead of us,” said Thornley. “We’re either going down or up.”
According to goffrugbyreport.comCWU is ranked number seven for the final fall ranking in 2021. CWU is scheduled to play against University of California Berkeley, Saint Mary’s College, United States Military Academy (Army), and Brigham Young University, all of which are ahead of CWU in the nation top 10.
“This is our most comprehensive, complete and competitive schedule,” Thornley said.
The match-up against Army is one in particular, Thornley said he thinks this will be their toughest challenge.
“The army plays rugby really well,” said Thornley. “They are probably the number one team in the country in my view.”
The Wildcats travel to West Point, New York to close out the regular season as they play Army on their alumni day, March 26.
“They’re pretty passionate already,” Thornley said. “Those games are already pretty intense and full on, but then you throw in a bunch of their alumni cheering them on and we’re off. I don’t think the challenge is getting any bigger.”
Thornley said the team is ready for the challenging schedule and it drives them to get better.
“That’s exactly what our group wants and… what drives them right now is to think about that series of games,” Thornley said.
Thornley’s hopes and expectations are understandably high for this season.
“I want to win every game, that’s why we’re doing this,” said Thornley.
Thornley said as long as the team is constantly improving and working together they will be in good shape regardless of the results. He said he relies on his team captains to unite and support this team.
“We have some really good captains who are fully aware and fully on the ground and have a really good feeling with the team,” said Thornley.
Fifth year senior and team captain Ivan Pula said he is also looking forward to the challenges and experience of these opponents who are in front of him and his teammates.
“Batting against such opponents provides valuable experience for these younger players,” said Pula. “It also gives some of our older players a chance to test their metal and see where their training has taken them so far.”
Pula said games like Army are a good benchmark for them as a team and for the program in general. Regardless of the rankings, however, Pula said they like to treat any opponent as if they were equal.
“For us, whether it’s ranked or not ranked [team]”Every game is important,” said Pula. “We watch every game as if they are the best in the country.”
Pula said the team goal this year is to prepare as best as possible and focus on the little things and things they can control.
“Our focus as a team is to focus on the small details,” said Pula. “We prepared as best we could to walk in every week knowing that we did everything we could and did our best so that we can get on the field and play with no regrets.”
The Wildcats will travel to Seattle on January 26 to play against the Seattle Rugby Club and begin the regular season.