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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

Men’s rugby honors Dombroski while advancing to national championship

St. Joe’s men’s rugby teamafter beating Western Michigan University in the semifinal game of the USA Rugby D1AA National Championship at Mount St. Mary’s College. PHOTO: SJU RECREATION

A few weeks after winning their third consecutive conference title on Nov. 3,  the St. Joe’s men’s rugby team entered the USA Rugby D1AA National Tournament, winning 15-10 in the semifinal game over Western Michigan University on Nov. 18. 

On Nov. 16, a day before the tournament began, the squad honored fellow teammate Mark Dombroski, who died in March,2018. He would have been celebrating his 20th birthday. 

“If we could have one wish on your birthday, it would to be have you suit up with us at Nationals this weekend,” the team said via their Hawk Rugby Twitter account.

The Hawks convene on the field, covered in mud.

Fifth-year senior fullback Aram Keshgegian said the Twitter post created an added presence for the team, keeping Dombroski in the back of each player’s mind the entire time.

“Just as we would have played for one of our teammates who are injured and can’t be out there, we’re especially playing those games for Mark,” Keshgegian said. “We wish we had him out there, we wish we still had him. It’s really big in our hearts.”

During play, the Hawks continued their season-long tradition of placing Dombroski’s number 15 jersey on the sideline. The team also mentioned Dombroski in their pregame prayer, something they’ve consistently done all season.

“After we finish the Hail Mary before the game, we say, ‘Mark Dombroski, pray for us,’” senior Number 8 George Harris said. “He was a hell of a player and would have given anything to be out there with us.”

The Hawks make a play on the ball.

The Hawks hoisted Dombroski’s jersey after their semifinal win, along with a sign that said “We Got This Mark.” Players were covered in a thick layer of mud from poor playing conditions, but the white sign and jersey remained unblemished.

The Hawks want to take their season-long experiences and further prove themselves in the national championship game, according to Keshgegian. He said the Hawks have a chip on their shoulder.

“We’re putting everything forward to prove to our fans and this school that this is something we work hard for and we’re going to continue to work hard at,” Keshgegian said. “We’re trying to build something. Eventually we want the school to realize that there’s absolutely no quit in [this team] and they’re really going to work for this.”

St. Joe’s celebrates after beating Western Michigan University.

The Hawks will enter the national championship ranked No. 1 in the country for the first time in program history. They will be matched up against Bowling Green University, who upset previously number one ranked Mary Washington University in their semifinal game. St. Joe’s played Mary Washington in last year’s championship game, prompting junior fly-half Noah Niumataiwalu to call this year’s championship matchup bittersweet, as the team sought revenge against Mary Washington.

Niumataiwalu said he’d love to win a national championship regardless of the opponent.

“We have got to win Dec. 1 to make sure everyone knows we’re number one,”  Niumataiwalu said. “We take pride in St. Joe’s on our jersey. To get that representation in the rugby community is awesome.”

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