BOULDER, Colo. – The University of Michigan’s rugby program was looking for a solid performance out of its Big Ten opener against Illinois, and the Wolverines did just that by putting away the Illini, 36-7. D1A’s tenth-ranked team received several quality performances, but it was the play of junior flanker Chening Duker that stood out.
Duker, a computer science major from London, was able to find the in-goal twice before the match was called due to weather at the 44th minute. Fortunately for the Wolverines, both squads decided the match was well in hand, and Michigan was credited for the victory.
Duker not only kept Illinois on their back foot with physical runs on offense, but was a menace on defense too. His play on the pitch and work ethic has really impressed Michigan’s first-year head coach Brandon Sparks.
“Chening is a great example of how our development system here at Michigan is working,” said Sparks. “He joined the squad with little rugby experience and has progressed all the way up the ranks to the starting lineup. He is a great example of what hard work in training and in the gym will get you.”
Duker and the rest of the Wolverines are off this weekend, but should receive a good test from Wisconsin when they return to Big Ten play Oct. 4.