Rugby team opens season with sweep of W’loo East

The Cedar Falls rugby team opened its season on Friday, April 12, in Waterloo. The Tigers swept Waterloo East in a doubleheader, winning by scores of 35-0 and 21-0.

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Cedar Falls is led by captain and senior Austin Mennen who started the rugby program at Cedar Falls last year. Last season the team fell to Southeast Polk in the State Semifinals in Des Moines. “I really feel like this team is a lot better than last year’s. The chemistry is there, and we’re passing really well too. Everything is coming together for us,” Mennen said.

The Tigers returned a lot of players from last season. Having guys familiar with the rules and the game gives the team a huge leg up over area schools who are just starting programs this season. “Just knowing the rules is a huge advantage. A couple times we gained a lot of ground from a ‘quick tap,’ and they didn’t even realize the ball was live. Another time we kept a kid from scoring because he didn’t put the ball down in the endzone once he had crossed the goal line. He got tackled out of bounds and the try didn’t count,” Mennen said.

Friday night Cedar Falls looked a lot more savvy than East, who was playing in its first rugby games ever. The Tigers grabbed the lead early in both games and didn’t look back. “Some of the rookies really held their part. Sophomore TJ Lenaerts started for us, and so did senior Jake Buck. They carried their weight well, and they played big roles for us Friday night. A lot of our subs also impressed us. Freshman Ben Terrell went off. He came out and did a lot of big stuff,” Mennen said

Defensively, the Tigers are yet to give up any points. East came closest to scoring when a player broke free, but was pulled down within 10 yards of the goal line by Mennen. Offensively, the Tigers had no trouble putting up points. They lit up the scoreboard with 56 points in 28 minutes of play (Games consist of two seven-minute halves). Buck, senior Brendan Alexander, junior Dan Hare and freshman Ben Terrell all added tries to the Tiger total.

The rugby team will be in action again this Friday when they play Waterloo East and Marion at 5:30 at the UNI Rugby pitches.

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