Wolfpack Rugby’s win over the UCSC Banana Slugs helps secure playoff spot

Both teams face of in a sub 30-Degree scrum right as the second half begins. (Photo credit: Lacie Reichmann)

On March 5th the University of Nevada, Reno Wolfpack rugby team played their most important game of the season against the UC Santa Cruz Banana Slugs. As the team walks on to the snow covered field they know that they have to win this game in order to keep their playoff hopes alive. After an incredibly close first half both teams are tied at a score of 10 to 10.

An early scrum in UCSC territory leads to a Wolfpack try (Photo credit: Lacie Reichmann)
Wolfpack scrum half Kyle Riley kicking an extra point after an early try (Photo credit: Lacie Reichmann)

As the second half begins so does the snow, now both teams must face off in sub 30 degree snowfall. The Wolfpack who have practiced in the snow all semester used this weather to their advantage by playing very fast and physical rugby which caught Santa Cruz off guard.

Wolfpack Rugby players Logan Delwiche (8) Nick Mikovich (10) and Austin Vance (7) chasing after the ball deep in UCSC territory (Photo credits: Lacie Reichmann)

As the referee blows his final whistle the Wolfpack players cry out in joy knowing exactly what their victory entails. With a final score of 32 to 17the Wolfpack Rugby club was able to finally secure themselves a playoff spot.

Wolfpack players come together to celebrate their win over the UCSC Banana Slugs (Photo credit: Lacie Reichmann)

I was given the opportunity to sit down with Wolfpack Rugby player Alex Salidas and discuss with him how the team’s season has gone and what improvements he has seen with the team over the last two years.

Wolfpack rugby thanking their crowd for attending their game. The Wolfpack rugby club thanks their attending fans after every game regardless of the final score. (Photo credit: Lacie Reichmann)

What is the biggest difference between this year’s team and the last?

- We have a lot of kids that are coming out of high school already playing rugby so we don’t have to teach them the fundamentals or rules and we can jump straight in to the advanced concepts.

What is the biggest obstacle the team has had to overcome?

- Gelling as a unit, there’s groups that think their way is the best way, others think that they’re doing the right thing. Playing as a team is one of the hardest things that college players encounter.

How much of an effect did the weather have on this game?

- Being used the the 30-degree weather, the wind chill, and the snow really gave us a leg up on Santa Cruz. But overall our skills better than theirs at the end of the day.

What is the biggest area of growth that the team has had compared to last year?

- We’ve had a lot more number in our freshman class. Last year we had a rookie class of around 10 and 7 of us are still playing, whereas this year we have around 30 and only 2 have dropped

What areas of improvement you think the team still needs?

- The team needs to capitalize of offensive plays, were having trouble scoring in the blue zone (close to the end zone) and our defense needs a little work but it has improved a lot since last year.