The Wisconsin Rugby Club returns to the USA Rugby DII Club semifinals looking to earn a National Championship that they missed out on last year.
The team is hungry to avenge their loss in the championship match last year and they look like a strong threat to do so after defeating the Naples Hammerheads 47-0 in the Round of 16 and then dismissing Princeton Athletic Club 52-17 in the opening round of the national playoffs.
Club President and Max Zukowski said that his team was successful in earning another spot in the semifinals because they did not let their foot off the gas offensively, and that contributed to some lopsided score lines. The team maintained constant possession and ran offensive sets really well. Zukowski gives credit to the team’s substitutes for making an impact especially in the quarterfinals against Princeton on Sunday.
Wisconsin stormed out to a 19-0 lead, but Princeton started to come back. The subs that came in “made a great impact and allowed us to score 26 unanswered which made the score of the game seem not as close as it really was,” said Zukowski.
Losing in last year’s final has been a great motivation for Wisconsin this season. The entire team except one player returned for this year, and the expectation at the club is to return to the final. Being one step away, said Zukowski, made the players realize how much it takes to reach that goal.
Standout players for WRC include No. 8 Andrew Hanske and wing Garrett Donath. Hanske is the former captain at the University of Wisconsin and very hard to bring down. But, added Zukowski, it’s the team that has played well, not just one or two players.
“We pride ourselves on our ability to be well-rounded and expansive on the offensive sets we run,” said Zukowski.
This year, Wisconsin needs to do a better job of limiting their turnovers. Zukowski remarked that turnovers were a problem in last year’s championship game, but that they have improved in that area so far this season. Now the team is focused on reducing the time in which they play frantically and outside of their selves. This happened against Princeton, and it nearly led to a comeback. If Wisconsin sticks to what they do well offensively, and perhaps get to take that one extra step they so badly covet.