Constanza Flores | Staff Reporter
Posted June 6, 2014; 10:00 a.m.
LU welcomed four new incoming freshmen to the rugby team in the first of five enrollment days on May 28. Head coach JD Stephenson welcomed the players to be part of the rugby team for the fall semester.
According to Stephenson, there are 15 athletes officially signed, 13 of whom have played representative rugby and three have been USA National Team players.
“I feel very confident with the people that are coming in,” Stephenson said. “There is a real spark and it really raises the level of our team.”
According to Stephenson, 13 of the 15 players are American and two of them are international students who had signed six months to a year ago. Stephenson actively pursued six players locally.
At the moment, the rugby team is carrying a squad of 76 players. Stephenson said that the incoming players will really help the rugby program and will take them to a higher level.
“A lot of the new players play as forwards and that is an area where we have been very competitive, but to make us a National Champion team we need to ensure there is healthy competition in this position to continue development,” Stephenson said.
Rugby players will have to come prior to the start of the school year in order to participate in a mini camp in where they will have trials and will be tested by the coaches. Players will also participate in rugby matches that weekend.
“We are going to have three squads in the fall semester which is something that we have never done,” Stephenson said.
Wes Parker, from Louisville, Kentucky, will join the team next fall. According to Parker, he decided to attend LU because the rugby team is of the top tier in the country. Parker said wants to play at this level of competition and test his talents against the best teams.
“Coach Stephenson also played a big role in me deciding to come [to Lindenwood] because he seemed like a great person, and what he has done with the rugby program in the past couple of years is amazing,” Parker said.
Parker has been playing for four years at Xavier High School in Louisville, Kentucky. He said that even though he has been playing for four years, rugby has been an essential part of his life because of his dad.
“My passion for rugby came from my dad because he got me into it,” Parker said. “But I also love the speed, physicality, toughness and the conditioning you have to have [to be able] to play at a high level of competition.”