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IUPUI Beats Bowling Green After 400-Plus-Day Hiatus

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IUPUI Beats Bowling Green After 400-Plus-Day Hiatus

IUPUI in white. Photo IUPUI Rugby.

IUPUI defeated Bowling Green 26-20 Saturday in the first game for each team in well over a year.

For IUPUI this was a victory in several senses of the word as the Jaguars had to battle through losing a coach and dealing with a recalcitrant school administration.

"We got denied three times to have games," said club president Spencer Strout. "But we kept coming back."

Strout and the team pointed out that other schools had allowed sports but not IUPUI, and asked the school to justify its decision. Eventually, many monthst after the first request, the school acceded. 

"We are still very strict with out COVID monitoring and testing and limiting how many people can come to the games, but we're just so amped to play; it's been over 400 days since we played a game as a club.

With former Royal Irish standout Jake Christmann coaching and the senior players working hard to keep the culture strong and get the new players up to speed, IUPUI was ready to play. They fielded five starters new to the game of rugby, but they are athletic and intelligent and picked up the game quickly.

"We practiced four times last week including a captain's run to get ready," said Strout. ""We work together as a team. A lot of the seniors stepped up and this is pretty much now a student-run club. We've been training about four weeks and just put in our game plan, but we just wanted to play."

And play they did. With inside center and captain John Rizzo scoring four tries and prop Zack Harlan having a massive game, IUPUI got tries from two freshmen—Aidan Alford and Baylor Hoffner, plus three conversions from scrumhalf Nate Hession, to see of a very good (and equally COVID-affected) Bowling Green team.

"Recycling quickly and getting the ball to the backs quickly was working well," said Strout, who was one of those backs benefiting from the work of the forward pack. "We got a lot of overloads that way. We also ramped up the intensity. We had a lot f big hits that knocked the ball loose and we talked a lot about being aggressive and hitting hard in the rucks."

 

It certainly all fell into place this time. Bowling Green, for their part, will get a nother shot when they host the Jaguars next week. For now, IUPUI can savor a return to the game, and a return to winning.

Full game footage can be found here>>