Norwich Rugby at the Nationals

Shawn Burgess in actionNorwich University's men's rugby team achieved a first in team history when it advanced to the 16-team USA Rugby's Division I Men's Collegiate Championship. The Cadets traveled to Colorado Springs, Colo., on April 15-18 for "pool competition" hosted by the U.S. Air Force Academy and a first-round match-up against Brigham Young University.

Prior to their departure from Northfield, Norwich rugby coach Bob Weggler said that the first 10 minutes of the Cadets' game against BYU would be the toughest - if Norwich could survive that initial stretch, however, Weggler felt his team could be competitive against the Cougars.

That prediction proved more accurate than Weggler may have wished. BYU scored three tries in the first ten minutes, and downed Norwich, 62-17. The Cougars held a 41-7 lead at halftime, but Norwich held its own in the second half and held BYU to three tries while scoring two, themselves. Sean Burgess scored all three Norwich tries during the afternoon.

With the loss to BYU, the Cadets advanced to a consolation game the following day against Texas A&M, who had lost in the previous round to Cal Poly. The outcome of that game was more to the Wick's liking, as Norwich posted its first national rugby tournament win with a 39-22 victory over the Aggies.

Norwich Athletic Director Tony Mariano, Vice President for Institutional Advancement Dave Whaley, and Trustee Alan DeForest '75 joined the Cadets in Colorado Springs for their two games and other events, such as a tour of the Air Force Academy campus.

Saturday night, Mark Taylor '79 and Ray Yelle '79 hosted an alumni dinner at Bennett's Barbeque in Colorado Springs, where thirty alumni, friends and family helped the players celebrate their victory over Texas A & M.

dweggler@norwich.edu, April 2004

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