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The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

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Hawk Rugby loses to Bowling Green in Championship


The St. Joe’s men’s rugby team capped off their season with a  26-7 loss to Bowling Green State University in the Fall DIAA National Championship in Charlotte, NC on Dec. 2.

After knocking off Western Michigan University in the semifinals, St. Joe’s entered the game as the No. 1 seed for the first time in program history. This is the second year in a row the team has fallen in the championship, as they lost to the University of Mary Washington last year.

“Credit to Bowling Green, they played a phenomenal defensive game that stymied our high flying offense,” Head Coach Dan Yarusso said. “But at the end of the day we have got to dig deep and play tough and bring that Philly grittiness into these games and I’m really proud of them, they really stepped up against these bigger boys. Just didn’t go our way today.”

The team was marred by turnovers and penalties, including a red card that sent junior captain and fly-half  Noah Niumataiwalu off the pitch and reduced the team to 14 men. Niumataiwalu scored the team’s only try off an interception before leaving the game.

Senior Lock Mickey Chapple said it was an incredibly physical game.

“You work all year to get to that moment and to have it taken away and the team’s talking back, it’s tough to keep yourself together,” Chapple said. 

  Senior captain and Number 8 said he was impressed that the team didn’t stop fighting, despite their deficit throughout the game.

“That’s something we pride ourselves on: we don’t quit no matter what,” Harris said.

Harris said the program has come a long way since he started playing and he was really proud of how the team did this year. Prior to the championship game, the team had gone undefeated through the regular season and conference play, winning their Conference Championship..

“It’s really inspirational, it’s an honor to see the program develop the way it has over the years,” Harris said. “It started off we were struggling to compete for the conference championship then we got over that hump and then last year we lost in the championship and then this year to lose again [is] another hump we have to get over to excel in the future. It’s really inspirational.”

Despite playing over 8 hours away, St. Joe’s had a large number of fans, parents and students alike come down to show support for the team. Yarusso said the parents took the team out for two  dinners and fed them all weekend.

Fifth-year senior and outside center Aram Keshgegian said the team has formed a tight-knit community.

“We’re as close as can be,” Keshgegian said. “We’re in each other’s rooms all day, we’re always hanging out. No one’s alone so it’s really just like a brotherhood we have.”

The team will get a chance to redeem themselves in the spring when the 7s season comes around, highlighted by the USA Rugby 7s in Las Vegas, the Jesuit 7s in Santa Clara and the CRCs in Philadelphia.

“Despite losing the championship we all came closer together this year and it has really lit a fire under our bellies to go out and do something special in 7s this year,” Keshgegian said. “It’s something that will keep us grinding.”

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