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Longhorn Win Over A&M Sets Tone for Season

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Longhorn Win Over A&M Sets Tone for Season

All smiles after the win. There is still a lot of rugby to be played for the Texas Longhorns.

The University of Texas signaled a change in the Red River over the weekend with a 25-3 defeat of Texas A&M.

The game wasn’t a conference matchup—it was alumni weekend for UT and A&M was available to play, but still it was the Longhorns’ first victory over the Aggies in 15 years.

“It was a huge win for us,” said Head Coach Van Stewart, who joined Brian Hannon on the coaching staff and took the head coaching reins as Hannon has work commitments. “We came into the game knowing about our results from last year. But the boys were really switched on for it.”

“We executed very well, especially with our foot and played in their end of the field,” added Hannon. “Our line speed and our defense overall were big, too. We put a lot of emphasis on our kick-chase this year and it’s a big leap for the club. A&M are very good at counter-attacking on a kick and can punish you on a poor kick-chase, so we worked on that.”

Holding A&M to just the three points is a big deal, and with the improvement of TCU and Texas Tech, things are looking different in the Red River.

For Texas it’s about having a secure coaching situation and a serious approach to the game that attracts players. Once you attract players who want to approach the game in a serious way, the game becomes more enjoyable.

Last year Texas made the conference final with 17 players. They spent the offseason building the numbers.

“We recruited, we recruited some freshmen, we had some foreign exchange students,” said Hannon. “We worked hard to build what we had and the culture, and now we have a consistent 45 guys at practice there ready to work.

Stewart said the attitude about why players are playing is a big part of it. 

“We had a number of players who came in last year who really are trying to emulate what it means to play Texas Rugby,” said Stewart, who played professionally with the Houston SaberCats. “It’s about leaving that jersey in a better place than when you found it. We’ve been trying to create a true rugby club and that brings a lot of emotion for what it means to be playing for Texas. We had a good crowd for the game, with the alumni there, and the players were really excited to be out there. We’re trying to set a standard for how we want to play rugby and how we want to go through our season.”

With flankers Ron Royall and Daniel Jing, as well as centers Tom Bradley and Alden King, setting the example of the team culture and the effort level, the Longhorns have a lot to be optimistic about.

Yes it was just one game. Yes it was a non-conference game. But also, yes, it’s a big step forward.