by Peter Salat
Niagara University's Rugby team, which made the playoffs in the fall of 2012, is getting ready to kick off another successful season. Last fall, the team went undefeated and made it to the first round of the playoffs where NU lost to Colgate. Strong leadership and hard work from the players brought the team to be ranked at 14th in the nation. Already the players are back out practicing, playing in tournaments, fundraising and serving the community.
The team just had a tournament in Georgia over Niagara's spring break. There, it had one win and two losses. The next tournament is in South Buffalo this Saturday, March 23, and then another one March 30 at Colgate. Look out for more dates that the team has matches or tournaments in the area.
This season the players say they are excited to be back on the field and hope to see new faces. The coach and players are very inviting when it comes to introducing a new guy to the game and brotherhood. If you ask any of the players what drives the team to victory, you will get the same response from all of them: hard work, dedication and chemistry. Anywhere on campus, one is bound to see a Niagara Rugby jacket on their way to class or Clet.
Ryan Machklowski, who plays second row or flank, said, "I am looking forward to the upcoming season. We have been working hard in the offseason and we have a lot of good teams to face."
The team also just recently got a new head coach, Geniusz Paul, who is very enthused to be with the players and lead them to success.
Since rugby is a club sport, the team is not fully funded by NU. Players have to raise money on their own and as a team to fulfill the rest of their expenses. This past Friday and Saturday, the team held a fundraiser at Buffalo Wild Wings on Military Road in Niagara Falls. At this event, people could come and support the team, as some of the money they spent on dinner was donated to NU rugby.
The rugby team originally got their name "The Dead Pheasants" from a tournament of the same name, where the winner gave the loser a dead pheasant. This was part of the culture when the tournament was always held and Niagara always won. It stuck with the team over the years.