Returning State rugby champions prepare for first game against The Woodlands

Kathryn Revelle

The Westlake Rugby Club is the returning State Champion. They traveled many miles, played many games and had rewarding success. Now, they are only a few weeks away from their first game which they have been preparing for since November.

“[I’m most excited] for the chance to prove to every other team in the state that we deserve to be nationally ranked,” junior Ross McDoniel said. “Last year we were very successful in proving our abilities, and I believe we can do the same this year.”

The team is ranked 13th in the nation for single school teams. After winning the State Championship last year, the team traveled to California for the Fullerton International Tournament and lost only one game to the second best team in the nation, Santa Monica.

“There’s a lot of traveling involved with rugby,” sophomore James Revelle said. “More traveling means more bonding time which is always good for the team.”

On Jan. 31, the rugby team will travel to Houston to play their first game of this season against the Woodlands. The team played The Woodlands in the State semifinals last year.

“The Woodlands will for sure be one of our biggest competitors this season,” Ross said. “I’m very excited, but also very nervous because they’re going to put up a good fight.”

At the end of last year’s season, forwards coach Matt Lowry left for a job opportunity in California. Now, the rugby team has coach Stevie Swindal. Swindal played for the Scottish U18 and U21 national teams.

“The coaches are very supportive,” James said. “I like Coach Swindal because he really helps out the rookies, like me, and teaches us strategies that are very helpful come game time. He’s a very unique coach and he brings a lot to the table.”