Rugby heads to Florida



Shawn Maheia blocks a tackle against a defender from Southern Illinois. They won the weekend tournament put on by the New Orleans Rugby Football Club. The team travels to Florida for the second round of the tournament.


Loyola rugby will play in the Sweet 16 round of the national championship this weekend in Jacksonville, Fla.

The team won the Deep South Collegiate Rugby conference, which began its road to the national tournament. In the first round of the tournament, they played in Pensacola, Fla. and won both games, sending them to the second round in Jacksonville.

The win in Pensacola got the team to the second round, but Coach Sam Brock said that it hasn’t made them cocky in the slightest. They came back to town the following day and started practicing immediately.

“They’re confident in their game. They’ve beat some of the best teams in the South and are just ready for who’s next,” Brock said.

Captain and management senior, Alla El-Jaouhari, said that while they feel prepared, there are still some things that they need to work as whole, such as penalties and offense.

“One of the big problems of our team is that we get a lot of penalties, we’ve got to limit that. Other than that, were looking at a good game; looking at success,” El-Jaouhari said.

Brock said that it is penalties that really hurt them in Pensacola and that is where their focus needs to be. He said that after a certain amount of penalties, the player gets taken out for 10 minutes, and that one person out of 15 really makes a difference.

“The little things like that are what’s going to make a difference in a match,” Brock said.

Criminal Justice Sophomore Taylor Hightower is now getting back on the field due to a hamstring injury back in the regular season. He’s been out for one month and said he could not be more ready to get back in the game.

“Watching them was frustrating – watching them go down in the last game, and I couldn’t do anything about it,” Hightower said.

Brock said that in this last week before the matches, they are mainly focusing on their offense and the “patterns” of their plays.

He said that the players have noticed an increase in online views of their game against LSU and said that means that teams are trying to study their plays. For that purpose, he wants to change it up and create an unreadable game to their opponents.

These last few days before the second round of the tournament have the team practicing non-stop, but confident and ready.

The Wolf Pack leaves for Jacksonville this afternoon. If the team wins on Saturday, the men will advance to be a part of the Elite 8. If that game is won on Sunday, the team goes to the Final Four and will travel to Colorado for the national championship on the first weekend of April.

El-Jaouhari said that once they get to Jacksonville, there is only one thing that they can do.

“We just have to play our heart out,” El-Jaouhari said.

Sarah Szigeti can be contacted at [email protected]