BOULDER, Colo. – The Big Ten Rugby season has come to an end, and Indiana University has emerged as the number one team in the conference. and have established themselves as one of the nation’s best rugby programs. Five other Big Ten matches were played Saturday, Nov. 14, which gave all Big Ten sides an opportunity to end the season on a high note.
Wisconsin 84 – 0 Michigan
The Badgers barely missed out on returning to the Big Ten Championship match but, instead of dwelling on their previous match, went out in the third place match and decimated Michigan.
Wisconsin started the day with two quick Tyler Crass tries, which was only the beginning to a long day for Michigan. Kyle Pedraz and Sam Enerson both scored a try in the first half, giving Wisconsin the 31-0 lead at halftime. Pedraz and Enerson each scored another try in the second half, widening the gap.
The Badgers defense was smothering, halting the Wolverine attack with speed, which resulted in multiple Michigan turnovers. This put Mitch Arvidson and Dane Fleck in great position throughout the second half, as Arvidson fed Fleck the ball to give him two of his three tries on the day.
This was a great match for Wisconsin, which rounds out the season with an impressive, 5-1-1, record. Its only loss came to Indiana, but it gave the Hoosiers their closest match of the season. Michigan didn’t have a bad year, either, finishing conference play 4-3 with many dominating wins during the course of the season. This loss will be a tough one to get past, but it could fuel Michigan’s young players in years to come. They’ll need that next season, after they lose players like Zach Burns, , and Cole Van Harn during the offseason.
Michigan State 68 – 10 Illinois
This match also started off with two quick tries, this time it was Michigan State’s Patrick Pale who scored his first two tries of the season in the first 10 minutes of the match. Those quick tries opened the doors for the Spartans, who scored three more tries before Illinois was able to put any points on the board. Michigan State was ahead, 36-5, by the time halftime came around, and were in great position to win this match.
Michael Vanderlaan was huge for Michigan State all day, scoring three tries in the match. Its defense also played very well, and the pack was able to contribute a try in the win.
Michigan State ends the season 3-4 in conference play, with its four losses coming to the top four sides in the conference, which also happened to when the Spartans played them. Its effort against Michigan earlier in the season showed how improved this side was compared to last year. Illinois sorely missed its captain, Matt Ramsey, this season, losing him to a torn ACL in the beginning of the season. The team was able to win its matches against Iowa and Minnesota, but struggled for the rest of the season.
Purdue 52 – 26 Iowa
The Boilermakers end their season with a great win against Iowa. The team had a rough beginning to the season, but arguably had the toughest first three matches of the fall against Indiana, Ohio State, and Wisconsin. They were able to rebound by winning three of their last four matches, ending their season in great fashion.
On the other side of the pitch, Iowa finished their season in rough fashion. The Hawkeyes ended the season winless, and need a lot of work to prepare for sevens in the spring.
Minnesota 27 – 12 Michigan B
Michigan’s B-side had a better day than their A-side did against Wisconsin, but it still wasn’t enough to beat Minnesota.
Gabe Cesarini scored the first points of the game for Minnesota, but Michigan sophomore David Caputo was able to answer 10 minutes later to tie the match, 5-5. Gophers Nathan Greenwald and Darin Richardson each scored a try before the end of the half, putting Minnesota up, 15-5.
Lucas Mallery scored for the Wolverines in the 60th minute, and, after a successful conversion, closed the gap to only three. That score did not stay for long, as Elliot Rowe and John Valerius both scored Gopher tries, which gave Minnesota its 27-12 lead.
Minnesota came into this season with a young side, and were able to garner a win against Iowa in its last regular season match. This experience only improved its development into a good rugby team, and will be positive for the squad going forward. Michigan can also be happy about how its B-side performed in this match. The young players on that side are developing into players capable of playing elite Big Ten rugby, and some will join the A-side next year.
B-Side Championship: Indiana B 33 – 5 Wisconsin B
These young teams were the best in the Big Ten, and are the future of their programs. The match showcased the great rugby that the B-sides have been playing this season.
Indiana has a great young team, which learns a lot under the tutelage of Indiana Head Coach Sarasopa Enari and the experience of the A-side. The young Hoosiers started off with tries from sophomores Al Manning and Samuel Obondo, and headed into halftime with a 14-0 lead.
Manning would score another try in the second half, and the Hoosiers continued to roll. The Badgers were able to score a try in the closing minutes of the match, but it was too late, as Indiana won its first championship of the day.
Both Indiana and Wisconsin won their A-side match, and the fact their B-sides made it to the championship match is great for the future of these two sides.