NIU rugby closes out fall season

By Korey Peterson

The NIU women’s rugby club recently finished up its Chicago Area Rugby Football Union (CARFU) season.

The women were 5-2 in the regular season after winning the last four. The record earned the Huskies a No. 2 seed in USA Rugby’s Midwest playoffs this past weekend in Madison, Wis.

The women lost their first game to Winona State University, which would go on to win the bracket, 44-22. A consolation game was played on Sunday, and NIU defeated the University of Wisconsin-Madison, 12-5.

“It was a very good year for us,” said Suzy Richard, president of the NIU women’s rugby club. “People stepped up and showed that they were willing to take on certain roles on the team. There was a lot of passion from all the girls.”

The CARFU season is only in the fall for both the men’s and women’s clubs.

In the spring, both teams will travel to various tournaments, including an NIU-hosted event, the Tournament of Champions.

The NIU men’s rugby team will host the eighth annual event, which brings about 30 teams to DeKalb. The men won the event last year and added another piece of hardware to the mantle this season.

“It’s back where it is supposed to be,” said senior men’s rugby club president, Jim Sronkoski, of the CARFU championship.

He spoke of the Dan Parmenter Cup, awarded to the team with the best record in CARFU. The cup was renamed two years ago to honor Parmenter, who was a rugby player and victim of the Feb. 14, 2008 shootings at NIU.

The men’s team dominated its opponents all season long to go undefeated in the regular season.

The Huskies earned a No. 1 seed for this past weekend’s Midwestern playoffs in Madison, Wis., and defeated St. Cloud State in the first game, 23-20.

The men lost the next game to the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, 35-14 to end their weekend. In the first half, NIU inside center Jacob Goldsmith was given a red card for a drop tackle, in which a player picks up his opponent and drops him to the ground.

“The player jumped into our guy,” Sronkoski said. “I think the ref only caught the tail end of it. That was a big blow because he is one of our key players.”

NIU would play with one less player for the rest of the game, and lose the game that could have earned the team a qualifying bid to the nationals tournament in the spring.

UW-Whitewater would go on to win the bracket.

“It‘s been a nice ride,” Sronkoski said. “We had a solid year and are proud of where we are at.”