The St. Thomas Rugby Club made its return to campus Saturday, April 14, after a 20-year absence.
Both past and present players have spent years lobbying for club status with the university until finally receiving it in September.
“It’s been tedious but now it’s really worth it,” sophomore Alex Goering, Rugby Club vice president said.
Last season, the team played its home games in Eagan, but Saturday’s Palmer Field debut delighted students like sophomore Kevin Gawronski.
“We’ve been watching ‘Invictus’ with Morgan Freeman all week and getting really excited,” Gawronski said. “We got up at five this morning just because we were excited for the game.”
Despite the high expectations, the team did not disappoint and dominated Carleton 36-0. Senior Ryan Petterson led the way with two tries. Three other players converted tries while the Tommies kept position in the Knights’ half for the majority of the game.
Junior Tom Gallaher, Rugby Club president, said this is the type of play he expects from his team.
“We’re here to win; we’re not here to live up to what happened in the past,” Gallaher said. “This is the new team; this is what we want to do. We want to win.”
Staff Adviser Vern Klobassa said the club leaders are dedicated to making the rugby experience a valuable one for St. Thomas men.
Another benefit the team debuted Saturday was brand new school-affiliated jerseys. The team wore old Blue Ox Rugby Club jerseys last season, but Gallaher said he was happy to trade those in for the purple and white.
“It’s nice to wear St. Thomas for once and be a part of it and officially recognized with the school,” Gallaher said.
Hayley Schnell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.