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The Breakout Men's D1 College Team of the Fall: Brown

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The Breakout Men's D1 College Team of the Fall: Brown

Antonio Esteves charges ahead for Brown.

The emergence of Brown University as a player in the collegiate rugby sphere is not a shock to the coaches and players in the program.

They had been working on this for a while. In the end they beat Dartmouth to win the Ivy League and then lost to Penn State in a frustratingly close 27-26 playoff game—Duncan Grant being tackled a meter short of the line preventing what could have been the game-winning try.

They did it at a university with an acceptance rate of less than 8% (actually, for the Class of 2025 the acceptance rate was 5.4%) and they did it with everyone basically assuming they couldn’t.

“I guarantee you that you will see more of us,” Head Coach David LaFlamme told GRR. “We are doing things off the field that will position Brown to have consistent performances going forward.  I'm very proud of this group of players.  They stepped forward and scared the crap out of a team that, by all rights, on paper should have crushed us.”

“It was definitely not a surprise,” added Brown center Campbell O’Conor. “When I came in my freshman year we had a really good leadership group and we’d only lost the Ivy Championship by six. We all put in a ton of work in during the summer and we had been holding each other accountable all fall; we felt like it was coming. Against Penn State; we felt like we should have won that game. We know that if everybody is able to execute, we can win those games."


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Being at a highly-selective college that is also academically competitive might make it difficult to recruit from the general population, but O’Conor said it can also serve to make the rugby team more successful.

“Everyone works really hard academically,” he said, “so everyone’s on the same page because everyone has the same problems. That helps us mesh well on the field. Our GPA as a team is really high and I think that’s because playing rugby forces you to organize your life. I live with five other guys on the team and we all have the same schedule, and we all love going to rugby practice; it’s so much fun. Rugby has helped me academically.”

The team itself is a classic rugby mix of players from all over the country, and all over the world. 

“You have a lot of people with niche interests and different experiences that helped them get in,” said O’Conor. “That produces a lot of conversations outside of rugby, but it also makes us closer.”

As LaFlamme said, you haven’t heard the last of Brown.