UC Irvine Rugby Club opened their season with a sweeping 50-8 victory against Fullerton Community College (FCC) this past Saturday, October 5, at the ARC Fields. The impressive eight-try game could not have been a better start to, what will most likely be, a more successful season for the Rugby Men.
Man of the match, Colin Fan (14), a fourth year Business Economics major, carried the boys into an early lead with a memorable hat trick and then bagged his fourth try before halftime—leaving Fullerton Rugby Club with a mere three points they had secured from a penalty kick about a quarter into the first half.
“It always feels good to come back out with the new year, play with some good teammates and, you know, have a good game,” Fan said, as he was preparing to leave the field for a celebratory dinner at a nearby pizza parlor.
A good game was an understatement considering the four-try senior takeover during the second half. Fan led the scoring streak, but senior Alex Gabriel, followed him with the fifth try of the match.
The game did not lose any momentum as former high school football player, Lenny Rey Vega, secured the team’s sixth try, shooting down any hopes that FCC Rugby Club may have had about turning the game. Fullerton’s big man, Abraham Hernandez (1), then scored to bring FCC up to their final score of eight.
“It was a good way to start the season,” said Coach Cory Joseph.
At the other end of the field following Fullerton’s try, senior Karl Reichmuth (13), a Civil Engineering major at UCI, expertly ran the ball into the touch line, knocking the score out farther than expected for this season’s opening game.
Just when everyone thought Fullerton had had enough, UCI’s scrum-half, Alan Roniss, secured the team’s final try, ending the game with a final score of 50-8. Roniss has played rugby in the 2013 Maccabee tournaments and performed very well last season, despite UCI’s losses.
The spotlight is on this year, as scrum-half, Roniss, first year coach, Cory Joseph, and president of UCI’s Rugby Club, Ryan Soto, look to carry the team into a promising season. Coach Cory Joseph is already pleased with how his boys played the first match.
“It was very good in terms of guys just getting the jitters out, I think that was the biggest thing,” said Coach Joseph. “Some guys are nervous, some guys are excited, but it was good just seeing everybody get relaxed, you know, and get more comfortable about playing.”
The Rugby Men are definitely relaxed and satisfied with the turnout, but they are nowhere near complacent. There is still a lot of work that needs to be done to improve their scrums and line-outs for the next big home game against UC Riverside.
“I think we’ve just got to spend more time in our sets piece. We haven’t really been able to practice those as much. We have several coaches that can come out that have USA rugby experience so they’ll come out like they did last week and share some of their knowledge with the guys,” said Coach Joseph.
With these improvements set in place and the promise of support from their fans, UCI’s Rugby Club should be in top shape for the next home game against UC Riverside this upcoming Saturday, Oct. 12, at the ARC fields.
Current Anteaters, and alumni alike should come out to support this fast-growing, successful rugby team. It is always a better game when the hill and bleachers are filled with screaming and cheering fans.
“We’ve got a big home game against UC Riverside and we just actually designated it as a family day, so were hoping to get all the support of our friends and family out here. Just to see something new, you know?” said the man of the match, Colin Fan.