Players hit the practice field im preparation for Saturday's Heart of Texas Rugby Tournament. 

Staff Writer

Former Rugby Football Club president Zach Chodaniecky exuded nothing but confidence during his tenure on the Hilltop. With only three losses for his squad in just as many years, he had little reason to be apprehensive. However, a debilitating injury can be just the thing to humble a team and keep the ever-present danger of the game in their minds.

After he smashed his hip during a match last February, Chodaniecky had to be carried to and from the field and school. He was even carried off the stage when touring with his band. New RFC president Nikolai Solow said the injury was “part of the game,” but nonetheless, “truly a freak accident.”

“Zach scored a lot of tries for us in the last three years,” said Solow, “but everyone else is looking forward to picking up the slack in his absence.”

Solow’s hopes remain high for the new season. His ranks have been boosted by “new freshmen as well as foreign students,” who are not entirely new to  the game. After proving themselves with a record of 38-3-2 over the last three years, the team is ready to make a concerted push for the Lonestar Conference championship, followed by a swing at national competition under the National Small College Rugby Organization (NSCRO).

These are quite lofty goals considering the RFC was founded at St. Edward’s University just five years ago.

After competing in the Division I league for the first time, the team has accomplished one of the first goals outlined at its inception. With one season as conference runners-up under their belt, the team will now be focusing on the NSCRO — a league of schools more comparable to St. Edward’s size.

This new era for the program has also led to some adjustments in the coaching staff. Lachlan Ferguson, who has been coaching both the Austin Blacks and the St. Edwards Rams with great success, resigned from the Blacks this year to focus primarily on the Rams. Ferguson has also added a new assistant coach, Steve Corcoran, a retired player for England’s Bristol Rugby Club.

Under this new management, St. Edward’s Rugby is geared up to start off their season with a “home-heavy” Fall, said Solow. Five of the eight games before Christmas are at the Rams’ “home field,” starting Sept. 21 with the 5th Annual Heart of Texas Rugby Tournament. Matches will be played from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Since St. Edward’s does not yet have a field adequate for a rugby match, home games are played at Burr Field in Austin. The field is home to the Austin Blacks, and is close enough to campus to facilitate easy travel for students to come out and support the Rams.