BOULDER, Colo. – University of Wyoming Rugby ended last season with what looked like an unimpressive 2-4-2 record, but it played good rugby and proved it was a rising side in a very competitive West Conference. Its two wins came against New Mexico, and it has a chance to get its first notch in the win column this season when it takes on the Lobos in Laramie Saturday.
The Cowboys played some highly ranked schools, including the best two teams in the conference, Colorado State and Air Force, and a then-ranked No. 9 Arizona. They couldn’t capture a win in any of those matches, but played impressively. Wyoming tied both of its matches with Colorado, but wins would have meant a 4-4 record and a huge confidence boost going into the offseason.
New Mexico enters this season on the heels of an 0-6 season, but have a growing sense of improvement after the hiring of new head coach Tom Goslau. After years of rotating coaches and instability within the program, Goslau is ready to retool this UNM side into a quality rugby program.
“The young and inexperienced Lobos are excited to hit the road and test themselves against the Cowboys,” said Goslau. “Having returned only a handful of starters the team is rebuilding and revitalizing the strong rugby tradition at UNM. Team captains Cliff Kindred and Dustin Soflin lead a group of mostly freshman and sophomores on another step forward in the team’s development.”
The Lobos have played two non-conference matches this season, losing, 52-15, to New Mexico Highlands University, and losing to the Albuquerque Aardvarks, 59-0. Those were great learning experiences for a young team, and they will enter Laramie with nothing to lose.
Wyoming also enters Saturdays match with a young team. It returns nine starters, but will have many new rugby players included on its starting lineup. The team had great training and game practice at the Jackalope Tournament and a game with Montana State in Alpine, Wyo., and hope that the training will help cover the loss of its graduated players.
“It is important for us to have a good start to the season,” said Wyoming Head Coach David Finnoff. “But with our level of inexperience we really need to build a solid foundation of hard-nosed basic rugby to get our team on one page and ready for D1A West competition.”
The West is gearing up for another competitive season, and this game between two young teams will show what the future of the conference holds.
This match was supposed to be one of two out of the West this weekend, but CSU was forced to forfeit its match against Utah due to its unable to make the trip to Salt Lake City. The Utes will travel to Laramie next weekend to take on the Cowboys, and CSU will host CU in Fort Collins on October, 2nd.