BOULDER, Colo. – Indiana is set to play Ohio State for the 2015 Big Ten Universities Championship Nov. 14. The Hoosiers could have very well missed out on their opportunity to play for a conference title if it weren’t for the play for the team’s wing, Jake Hidalgo.
Last week was a near must-win scenario for Indiana, when they squared off against Wisconsin. The Hoosiers would receive tries from flanker Connor Marsh and center Bryce Campbell in the game’s final seven minutes to help secure a 20-13 victory over the Badgers. However, Indiana would have never been in position to win the match in the closing minutes if it weren’t for Hidalgo’s two first half tries.
“His performance against Wisconsin showed the natural ability that he has, but also how much he has grown as a player,” complimented Indiana Assistant Coach Dan Fitterling. “Because he is so humble, the guys like to see him succeed.”
The win over the Badgers was just one of many terrific individual performances Hidalgo has ran out this fall. In Big Ten play alone, the speedster has totaled 12 tries – second in the conference behind Ohio State’s Jojo Eramo.
Hidalgo’s skill and instincts would leave a spectator believing the try-scorer crafted his game long before he got to Bloomington, Ind., be the junior picked up rugby just two years ago.
“We put him in a B-side game about a week after he started, and his first two touches were tries, and he had one of the best tackles I have seen in a rugby game,” recalled Fitterling. “[Coach] Sopa [Enari] and I looked at each other and thought, if this kid gets this, he could be dangerous.”
Hidalgo did indeed picked rugby quite quickly, and now he’s one of the best wings in the nation, and the D1A Rugby Player of the Week.
Hidalgo and his Hooiser teammates will take on Ohio State for the Big Ten Universities Championship Saturday Nov. 14 at 4:30 p.m. ET. The BTU title game can be seen live on USA Rugby TV.