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UNM's Mike Glennon carries the ball and passes Albuquerque Brujos players during the game Saturday morning on Johnson Field.

Starting freshmen itch for win

After missing out on nationals last year, the Lobo men’s rugby team is looking to meet and surpass expectations.

Two seasons ago, the team was ranked as high as no.10 in the nation; for the last two seasons, they have been only one game away from making the national tournament after failing in regionals.

“We have a lot of improvement that can be made, but that comes with every year,” team captain Robert Wildau said.

Head coach Miguel Berthed said this year’s team has youthful players with the energy to make up for what they lack in size.

“This is an endurance sport,” he said. “We are not the biggest team, but our guys will have to have the endurance and speed to make up for it.”

The team started its off-season recently and is loaded with freshmen, after losing most of their veterans to the football team and academic eligibility.

The team’s makeup is about 80 percent freshmen. At least seven of them will be starting.

Wildau is entering his second year on the Lobo rugby team, but it will be his fifth year as a rugby player.

He was always too small to play football, he said, so he chose rugby in high school. When Berthed asked him to join the team last year, he said it was an easy choice.

The team is very young — some players had played their first game ever in Saturday’s scrimmage against the Brujos, a semi-professional team from Albuquerque.

“A lot of kids are stepping up,” Wildau said. “They have an itch to learn and are working their butts off.”

Home games are played at Johnson Field, and the team would love nothing more than to have more fan support. Their fans now consist of friends and family, but they would like the public and more students watching them play.

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“You could come out here for free, kick back, have a few snacks and watch rugby,” Wildau said. “That’s the point we’re trying to get to, trying to make it bigger.”

The rugby team gets its money through fund raisers, ASUNM and Alumni donations.

The coach is always recruiting and welcomes anyone wanting to try out for the team. Berthed said this week would be best for students to go and talk with him.

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