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Spring Hill Dismisses Obstacles, Keeps Winning

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Spring Hill Dismisses Obstacles, Keeps Winning

A few years ago Spring Hill College was one of a new wave of burgeoning varsity rugby programs around the country, but that didn't last.

In the spring of 2018, the college pulled scholarships and funding for the men's and women's rugby teams, and there was a real concern that it would all fall apart. But that hasn't happened. In fact, if anything, Spring Hill rugby has gotten stronger.

Captain and lock Ollie Kane didn't want the program to implode and he rallied his teammates around him. Phil Dembowski was brought back to coach, and they kept playing.

This season, the Spring Hill Badgers ended the Deep South Conference at 4-0, tying Southeastern Louisiana for the best record in the conference. SLU will go into the USA Rugby DII playoffs, while Spring Hill will enter the National Small College Rugby Oranization playoffs.

"there's a strong rugby tradition at Spring Hill," said Dembowski. "We continued to get student-athletes come to the school who wanted to play rugby. We are getting a lot of talent from New Orleans and from Chicago."

And the influx of talent hasn't changed with the team not being varsity anymore.

Kane remains one of the central figures in the team, but there are more. Jack Besh has been immense at flanker, while Will Newell has directed the attack nicely at flyhalf. Ryan Schickel, dynamic No. 8 Bam Barreiro, and Robert Vought all have been solid in the forwards.

Nate Smith, Alec Savoy, and Keegan Perkins have led the backs.

It's a very young team, but Spring Hill has the tradition, and they have the right attitude.

"The commitment of the players, especially Ollie but really everyone has been amazing" said Dembowski. "Even with the funding going away, this is the best team I've coached."

We could say this program isn't going anywhere, but really, it's going places.