UW-Madison Rugby Club to play in National Championship - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

UW-Madison Rugby Club to play in National Championship


Madison, Wis., (April 24, 2009) -  The University of Wisconsin-Madison Men's Rugby Club is advancing to the Division II National College Championship, May 1-2, at Stanford University in Palo Alto, Calif.

Returning to the College Championship for the first time since 1992, the UW Rugby Football Club is a true Cinderella story of this year's tournament. With the lowest tournament seeding, the No. 16 Badgers earned their ticket to the College Championship by defeating the top seed Salisbury University (Maryland), 19-17, in the first round April 18, and then No. 8 Arizona State, 42-22, the next day in the second round in Orlando, Fla.

The Badgers will take on the University of Miami-Ohio in the first national semi-final match May 1, while Georgetown University plays Middlebury College (Vermont), in the second national semi-final match.

"I'm very pleased with how our team played in Orlando," said Skip Heffernan, head coach of the Badger rugby club. "These wins were a real team effort as our front five continued to dominate while the back row and backs stepped up and played beyond their own expectations. We have some great momentum heading into the College Championship and I like our chances of bringing a championship back to Wisconsin."

To the casual observer, rugby might look like football and even smell like football, but with terms such as scrum, ruck and rolling maul - rugby is a sport that stands on its own.  

Often called "the game for hooligans played by gentlemen, or ruffians sport played by gentleman" the goal of rugby is for a ball carrier to score by touching the ball to the ground over the opponent's goal line. Each team has 15 players on the field, which is roughly 110 yards long by 75 yards wide. No forward passes are allowed in rugby, rather, teams can advance the ball by only throwing it sideways or backwards. The play is continuous even after the ball carrier is tackled.

The Wisconsin Rugby Football Club was founded in 1962, and the present day University of Wisconsin Rugby Football Club forming in 1977. Today, the club is comprised entirely of undergraduate students. The club reached the College Championship in 1992, but lost both games to finish fourth in the nation. More than 50 students are on this year's club. 

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