Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes
Sammy Linebaugh ReportingFor Utah rugby it's been a big year. The Highland High rugby dynasty took the national trophy, yet again. And the Utes made it to the finals of the collegiate championships, beating BYU in the semis. And now, Utah's adult league is sending a team to the final four.
Some of these guys have been playing together for more than a decade. The Hagas Rugby Club has seen a lot of years, but never before has a national championship been so 'within reach'.
Robert Lopez, Hagas Rugby: “There are probably 250 teams that try to qualify for this.”
Matt Menlove, Hagas Rugby: “I think our whole team has no doubt we’re gonna be there in the finals, and we’re gonna win it.”
Hagas has made it to the final four of the national men’s division two tournament with a mix of seasoned veterans and new recruits, who've come up Utah's rugby ranks.
Ryan Dunyon, Hagas Rugby: “It becomes less of a physical game, more of a finesse game as you get older.”
Still, the men's league mixes it up, especially when it comes down to tournament time. And this year there is added incentive. Highland High, the Utes, and the Cougar rugby squads have all made it to the final four, but only Highland took home the trophy.
If Hagas pulls off the win, it will be the first time a men’s team from Utah has ever won the national championship.
A grueling, two-day tournament, the winner may come down to he who stays the healthiest.
Ryan Dunyon: "Not a lot of blown out shoulders or knees in rugby as much as you get a lot of bumps and bruises, dings on the head."
Matt Menlove: "I usually come out of a rugby weekend with a pretty good black eye. You don't seem to mind. No, it's kind of a battle scar, chick magnet for us single guys."
Almost as good as the title, national champ.
The team takes on Boca Raton, Florida for the semi-final match-up tomorrow in San Diego.