By Frank Makuch – Staff Writer
The UMF men’s rugby club will be competing in this year’s Maine Collegiate Rugby Championship on Saturday April 28, a tournament the team has won the last four times it has been contested.
The Portland Rugby club, which hosts the tournament, invites college teams from around the state to compete for the title of best team in Maine. Last year’s participants included University of New England (UNE), University of Maine Orono (UMO), Colby, Bowdoin, and UMF. This year, the tournament will be held at Deering High school in Portland.
Last year, UMF won the championship with a thrilling six to five win over (UMO) in a very cold and muddy final game at Cumberland County Fairgrounds. Head coach Woody Hanstein thinks the schedulers always make the final game between the two rivals. “It always seems to come down to that” he said.
In addition to a cup which the winning team will be presented with after the conclusion of the tournament, awards will be given out to the most outstanding player at each position in the tournament. Last year, five members of the UMF team were honored. With nearly all of the team returning for this year’s tournament, the odds of a repeat seem good.
“It was a close one last year, but we have a team now that we know can win it if we put in the effort,” said club president Mark Garrido. UMF will have to come out on top over Bates, Colby, Bowdoin, and UMO, all of which beat UMF this past fall.
The tournament marks the end of the year for the men’s rugby team. The spring season included multiple tournaments including, an indoor tournament in Topsham, Maine; a scrimmage against Colby; and a past weekend’s trip to Rhode Island to play in the Beast of the East tournament, the largest collegiate rugby tournament in the world. The Beavers will finish their season the week following the Maine Collegiate Championship playing alumni in the annual alumni match.
“The (Maine Collegiate Championship) is a great way for our team to find out in what direction we are headed for in the future”, said Garrido. The 2010 season saw UMF win only one game in the fall, but win the Maine Collegiate Championship the following spring. The following fall season saw the club greatly improve its winning percentage coming off the spring title.
“Experience is one thing we are lacking on this team” said Garrido, “when all our guys gain some more experience, we’re gonna be scary.”