Rugby team wraps up season with semifinal playoff loss


Photo by Ben Blizzard

Three Lindenwood defensemen stop an opposing player with the ball.

Joshua Calloni, Sports Editor

The Men’s Rugby team has completed its season, and it was a successful one, and the club reached the D1A College Rugby playoffs.

Over the course of the regular season, the Lions put up an impressive record of 18-2, only losing twice, and going undefeated over the course of their home schedule. Both of the team’s losses came at the hands of Life University, based out of Georgia. The Lions lost two straight games to the opposing college in February. However, both games were lost by a score of 12 points or less.

After the brief losing spell against Life, the Lions didn’t lose again, winning six straight games to move themselves into the conference championship tournament.

In the quarterfinals of the conference championship tournament, the Lions once again hosted Life University. In the first winner take all game of the tournament, the Lions defeated the Running Eagles 29-8, moving on to the semifinals of the tournament.

“One of my proudest moments this season was our resounding quarterfinal playoff win,” Coach Josh Macy said.  “We vanquished an old foe but more than that we had to move the game what seemed like a dozen times because of weather. I was proud not just for the win, but for the organizational wherewithal we showed from top to bottom.”

In that game, Lindenwood scored four tries in the game, two scored by senior Runako Brynard, who led the Lions in scoring for the event with 10 total points. Freshman Matteo Peignon scored nine points in his own right, thanks in part to three separate two-point conversions, and one three-point penalty kick. Junior Nick Hardict II and senior Tyren Al-Jiboori also joined in on the scoring, scoring five points each.

The win set the Lions up for a semi-finals matchup with Navy, a team that went 17-0 in the regular season. The game was played in Annapolis, Maryland, at the Navy Brigade Sporting Complex.

“We held ourselves to a very high level, and I believe that contributed to our teams’ successes. I think the larger team as a whole was responsible for the type of season we had this year; everyone is fiercely competitive, which pushes you to give your best every training session,” Sophomore Duncan Krige said. “Wearing that uniform on a Saturday gives me a lot of pride, and what, in my opinion, makes it even more impressive is the camaraderie among the squad, where everyone is willing to sacrifice or give up their own interests for the person next to them.”

In the end, Lindenwood dropped a nail-biting game by a score of 12-10. Peignon again put up five points in this event, and sophomore Duncan Krige scored a try of his own, giving him five total points scored in the event as well. The Lions made it a two-point game in the 64th minute of the match, but couldn’t score in the last 16 minutes, giving Navy the win, advancing them to the conference finals against the University of California, Berkeley, and sending Lindenwood home, eliminating them from the playoffs.

“I’m extremely proud of the winning mindset and the brotherhood that has grown during this season, and I can’t wait to see what the next one brings,” Krige said.

Overall, the .864 winning percentage that Lindenwood put up this season is right on par with how it has performed in recent seasons, as it appears that the Lions rugby program has smoothly transitioned to D1 in its first year. The team picks up its 2023-24 season next semester, with the first games coming in September.