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Losing 11 seniors from this year’s Division II state championship team, Columbus Rugby Football Club boys coach Richard Jenkins realizes recruiting will be key to continuing the team’s success.
News of a state title, he figures, won’t hurt his efforts.
“This year has been a good year for us,” Jenkins said. “Recruiting is going to be our largest goal before next spring. We’ll be working very hard in the schools to recruit some new players. It will be good for us, because we can take this big trophy that we won and use that as propaganda.”
That trophy will be on display at tonight’s city council meeting, when the club will be recognized in a proclamation for its Memorial Day championship. Mayor Kristen Brown has declared today “Columbus Rugby Football Rhinos Day.”
“It’s great for the club,” boys assistant coach and club president Travis Perry said. “We’re finally getting a little bit of exposure throughout the city. The boys team is really thriving, and the men’s team.”
The men’s squad, which was started in 2008, won a state championship the week after the boys title. The girls team, which began a year earlier, was state runner-up last year and made it to the state quarterfinals this season.
“In the last year-and-a-half, two years, we’ve developed a men’s team that has been able to compete in the Division III Midwest South Division,” Jenkins said. “We’ve established a committee, a core group that is responsible for the daily responsibilities. We have structure as well now, so we’re looking to grow as much as possible.”
The boys program began in 1997 and won its first state championship in 2005. The team had 25 players this year. Most Division I squads have about 35 to 40 players.
“We’ve had around 30 kids, but that’s not enough to field two full squads,” Perry said. “Our goal is to eventually be in the Division I category. We haven’t asked to be put in Division I because we don’t have enough kids.”
The boys team outscored its opponents 245-15 this season and went undefeated against Division II teams. Columbus downed Indianapolis Tech 32-5 in the semifinals and Culver Military Academy 15-13 in the finals at Richard Wigh Soccer Complex.
“We worked hard,” Jenkins said. “The fact that they’re recognized is fantastic.
“It should be a good night,” he added. “The boys are looking forward to it. It should be the icing on the cake for a good season.”
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