The Castleton State College men’s rugby team is undefeated and headed this weekend to the Division IV Championships of the New England Rugby Football Union. The club team, at 6-0, just defeated Curry College Sunday 43-14 and holds the number one-seed going into the four-team tournament at Roger Williams University in Rhode Island.
Just last year, the team won only one game and that was by forfeit against a suspended Lyndon State College squad. Junior Dan Olanoff was a part of last year’s team and has seen his perseverance rewarded this season.
“It’s a big turn around,” Olanoff said. “I couldn’t ask for a better team.”
The team’s in-game captain is junior Kevin Chiu. Along with Olanoff and many other members of the team, he has been through the rough times.
Chiu put into perspective how sweet Sunday’s convincing victory over Curry College was.
“We lost to them my freshman year and they blew us out,” he said. “So it felt really good to blow them out. We ran them over.”
Having been a part of the team for three years now, Chiu, along with the rest of the juniors on the squad, has been a part of the turnaround the entire way. Over the past few years, the members of the team have become quite close.
“I just think they’re pretty much my brothers,” Chiu said. “We play through injuries together and I’m truly proud of them.”
The team president is junior Eric Rothy, who took the sentiments of Chiu a step further and summed up what made the guys on their team so great.
“These guys put their bodies on the line every weekend for 80 minutes non stop with no pads,” Rothy said.
But while there is a great deal of respect among the players on the team, there is still a bit of stigma attached to them with the presence of the word “club.”
Junior Alan Page would like to see that come to an end.
“Our team is just as hard working and respectable as the varsity teams,” Page said. “We don’t get the turn out they do, but we still have the respect.
“I just wish Castleton noticed us more as a team and not a club.”
According to Page, the team practices every day during the week, sometimes staying out until well after dark. With games on Saturday during the season, their only day of rest is Sunday.
And after this Sunday, the season will be over. If all goes to plan, they will rest all off-season with the NERFU title.