The NC State men’s rugby team took on St. Joseph’s in the quarterfinals on Saturday, Nov. 23 in a 31-15 loss to a Hawks team that had gone undefeated in the regular season.
The game began as a blowout of the Wolfpack, with the Hawks taking an early 21-0 lead, but the Wolfpack persevered and made it a 21-15 game at the halfway point. Despite having possession for most of the second half, and holding the Hawks down for the most part, the Hawks were able to break away in the last 10 minutes of game time, and later score a penalty kick to bring the final score to 31-15.
Despite the loss, this game was an all-around positive sign for the Wolfpack. Jumping up divisions is incredibly difficult for club teams, as the rugby team moved up to D1AA, and to do so while missing key members from the championship team last season is impressive.
All of these setbacks would typically indicate a poor season, but this team battled all year to a 4-2 record in the regular season and eventually made it to the final eight in the national playoffs, an incredible feat. Then, the team played a hard game against a team that had been undefeated all season, proving that the team will look for another strong season in the spring.
After the loss to St. Joseph’s, the team was placed in a consolation game against Tennessee, who had lost to Western Michigan on Saturday. The Wolfpack lost to the Vols, who ran away with a 48-24 game, despite some impressive play from junior Mayo Ogunmola.
At the conclusion of the season for the Pack, it was announced that several team members had been selected as 2019 All-Conference Team selections. Sophomore Jonathan Robbins, senior Brandon Corkery, junior Thomason Stockton and senior Mende Carlton all made the first team, while junior captain Darren Murphy made the second team. Junior Adrian Corkery, graduate Caleb Gwaltney and Ogunmola were honorable mentions.
Having this many selections shows the extent to which players filled in for a team that lost many players after winning the national championship last season.
The men’s rugby team will return to action next semester when it opens its 15’s season in the spring with games at Method Field and other locations that have yet to be announced.