By Sean Savage
Two minutes to go. The Pride men’s rugby team has a shot in its first-round nationals matchup once again. Hofstra University sends a kickoff, and Springfield has a chance to take the lead after trailing for the first 78 minutes.
“It was the most electric feeling I ever had,” head coach Luke Sals said. “I realized this is it.”
However, the Pride did not capitalize on that chance.
“Although we did not win, I am proud of the guys. Hofstra scored once, then again, and most teams would have given up. But, the guys never gave up; they realized they have to try and bounce back,” Sals said.
After two back-to-back undefeated fall regular seasons, the Pride have shown no signs of slowing down.
Senior Brandon Chu attested to the promise that lies ahead for the team.
“This program has a bright future ahead. The amount of growth we have made as a team since I started is tremendous, and I foresee that trend continuing with our younger guys,” he said.
Chu joined the team as a sophomore and has had nothing but positive experiences. He was initially intrigued by the team’s culture.
“We have maintained the same welcoming and cohesive environment as when I first started, but each year we improved our technical play, recruitment, culture, and commitment,” Chu said.
He climbed the proverbial ladder quickly, taking a lead role on the team this season in being president of the club.
“Being a leader on the team has been very fulfilling and enjoyable. The enthusiasm and commitment shared by the guys on the team made it easy to work with everyone,” he said.
Chu had the role of taking care of the logistics behind the team. Mainly, he had to make sure everyone was on the same path regarding attitude, culture, and standards.
Sophomore Ajae Olsen noticed the ripple effect Chu had on the team.
“Brandon is an all-around great guy. There was no point he was ever negative. He would always try to get everyone to play their best.” Olsen continued, “Even though he technically was not a captain, everyone looked to him as one.”
Olsen and the rest of the team know “Chu has that dog in him.”
Furthermore, Olsen joined the team late as well, but due to the clubs’s dynamics acclimating was no problem.
“I came in with no knowledge of the game, and I only knew one guy. But, upon my first practice, everyone was very helpful. They helped me get situated with the game and team,” he said.
Sals commented on the team’s future, mentioning how each player had a vital role in their success. The Pride are looking to get in the gym and work on things during their spring season. Therefore, they can return even stronger for their 2022-23 season.
“The whole team knows that they need to keep themselves accountable to improve,” Olsen said. Having this mentality is an opportunity to further differentiate themselves from competitions in coming seasons.
They want to keep building on what they have made and eventually strive to compete in a better division.
Already, the team has improved, learning how to function on the pitch as a cohesive unit.
“They work well together. I sometimes give advice, but I know they probably can not even hear me,” Sals said jokingly.
Sals was most impressed by the team’s work ethic and determination.
“I can not predict who will step up, but everyone had glimpses of success this season,” Sals said. “We are really becoming scientists of the game.”
Photo Courtesy Springfield College Men’s Rugby