Marquette Rugby celebrates 50th anniversary with variety of events

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Marquette Rugby celebrates 50th anniversary with variety of events

The alumni defeated the current students in Saturday's alumni match.

The alumni defeated the current students in Saturday's alumni match.

Photo by Jordan Johnson

The alumni defeated the current students in Saturday's alumni match.

Photo by Jordan Johnson

Photo by Jordan Johnson

The alumni defeated the current students in Saturday's alumni match.

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Marquette club rugby has been training, practicing and competing since 1969, when tuition was less than $2,000 per year.

This weekend, the club celebrated its 50th anniversary with a golf outing, alumni game and chance to watch the current team take on the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Roy Bowler, a junior in the College of Education and club president, and other current team members were excited for the chance to interact with alumni after several months of planning the weekend.

“For the younger guys, they’re going to get to see what the program means to a lot of people and just how special it is,” Bowler said. “For the older guys, it’s going to be reaffirming what Marquette rugby means. For people to come back 50 years later, it’s going to be an eye-opening experience.”

Marquette rugby coach Constanz Hartney said he was looking forward to interacting with alumni from his generation as well as more recent alumni he coached.

Marquette club rugby alumnus Angus Whitmore said the event meant a lot.

“What we’ve been working on doing is gathering people across all 50 years that used to play rugby at the school that have good memories and overall brotherhood through playing the sports with their teammates,” Whitmore said.

He described the chance to meet and share stories as a “great opportunity.”

Each year, the team takes part in an alumni game, Easton McChesney, a fifth-year student in the College of Engineering, said. Recent alumni are welcome to return for a game against the current team’s B-side, or back-up players. This year, the alumni game took place before the UWM match Saturday.

The game was a lot of fun for everyone involved, Bowler said. The alumni won the match 37-17.

“It was awesome to see everyone out there. The alumni got out to a big lead, but we were proud of our B-side who, for some, was their first game. They came back a little near the end and did really well,” Bowler said.

The anniversary came as the rugby club is about two thirds of the way through its regular season. Bowler, McChesney and Hartney said the season is off to a good start. The team is 3-1 after winning their game against UWM this weekend 50-5.

“It was a really incredible game. We had so much support, there were so many individuals in the crowd and I think the team felt injected with life from the crowd and the alumni supporting us,” Bowler said. “We were able to put them on the back foot right away, and we had an incredible intensity I don’t think they could match.”

The team has two more regular-season games before playoffs begin. Its only loss was to the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater’s team, which is one of the top teams in the north division of the Great Midwest Conference.

“Last year, we made it to the Sweet Sixteen. This year, I think our team is even better,” McChesney said. “We have more depth, a lot of good guys returning. We lost a lot of key players, but my expectations are high.”

These high expectations are despite having a less experienced team compared to last year.

“We’re a younger team. We’re not as experienced as last year. We’re holding our own against teams that are much better than the teams we played last year,” Hartney said. “We can do really well this year.”

Bowler said he’s excited for the season but mentioned that some of the best parts of Marquette rugby are the camaraderie and the team’s motto: “Leave the jersey better than you found it.”

“It means just to make the rugby team better whether that be in image (or) doing well nationally in games as we’ve done the last few years,” Bowler said. “Now, we have 50 years of that where we can see the transition.”

Whitmore said that motto has changed, but it’s been the same idea since he graduated at Marquette. The club has opened doors for anyone who wants to play.

“I can’t say enough how proud the Marquette rugby alumni are of the current team in all cases,” Whitmore said. “When your team is playing well, and they’re outstanding individuals and gentleman that live by a motto like that, … it’s something that the team has put in effort in portraying even back when I was playing.”

Whitmore said he was especially grateful for the opportunity to participate in a weekend like this.

“We are making a really big push as Marquette alumni to continue to grow that connection and bond with the university because it’s weekends like these that we’ll remember for the rest of our lives,” Whitmore said.

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