Big CC Men’s Rugby Win – The Catalyst
October 14, 2022 | SPORTS | By Lorea Zabaleta | Photo by Alex Slomin
At 10 p.m. on Friday, October 7, the CC men’s rugby team completed their first home game of the season with a final score of 34-12, riding a cacophony of emotions. For the first time in six years and five seasons, the team won a game by 15s; on Homecoming, no less.
“Every season the goal is to win. But this season it was more real, you know, it wasn’t so abstract,” club president JP Salazar ’23 said.
Sam Treat ’24, the team’s director of scouting extraordinaire and captain of the striker, said that this year there was a particular desire to secure that victory at Homecoming.
Not only was last Friday the team’s first real game of the 15-year-old season, later than usual, but it was also the first since Rugby Club and the larger CC community suddenly lost Hank Bedingfield last spring.
Midway through the Cutthroat game where they defeated Airforce B, before the men entered the field, captain Delaney Kenyon announced, among other things, “Hank, if you’re listening, we love you so much, then a lot and I miss you every day. This and every match played by CC Rugby is all about you.
For games and scrimmages this year, members of the Cutthroat and Men’s teams wrote Hank’s number, four, on their wrists for mid-game motivation. A few personal touches have been added. Salazar kisses the four after each try, and Treat flips the number with his fingers for everyone to see.
The consensus as fans, parents, alumni and coaches watched CC Men’s Rugby play such an incredible game was that there were 16 men on this ground.
CC scored the first try in the first half of the game, but the game remained tight for some time after that.
Going into the second half, it looked like anyone.
Until the last minute, the team members, coach Sam Harrison, and the fans were unsure how the game would turn out.
“I was on my toes the whole time. I lost my voice,” Harrison said.
The scores were neck and neck, but CC began to steadily widen the gap after a regroup and half-time tactical talks.
The team also faced a minor upheaval after starting scrum-half Alex Reynolds ’25 was injured, and Salazar left his usual position as a forward and lock to take on the vacant role.
“I was training a bit,” he said. “Playing scrum-half is an important position because every call is like you’re the guy, you get the ball and pass it.”
Early passes, he said, were “awful,” but they got better. He also said his scrum-half style of play was different, a bit more “rushed” than Reynold’s. DU was “gassed,” he said, so rushing the game worked to CC’s advantage, allowing for more line breaks.
“We made some really good adjustments in the second half,” said Backs captain Luca Espinosa ’23. “We noticed that when we kept the game flowing and didn’t stop it because of stupid penalties, we were just better than DU. We were better with the ball. We were better at passing, better at passing. decision making.
By the final twenty minutes, nearly an hour and a half of intense contact play, both teams were getting tired, but Espinosa said Team CC “just had that extra gear”.
As the clock ticked down, even flooded with emotion and practically tasting that elusive victory, some players still did not see victory as locked.
Treat said he only accepted victory after the final whistle.
“Regis last year, I had the same feeling. I was like, ‘Holy shit, we’re going to win.’ I smothered it, right at the end,” he said. “So I was like, I can’t let myself fall into the trap and get comfortable, and I can’t let someone else do it either.”
Coach Harrison felt the same way.
“I’ve seen the pattern too many times where we’re ahead and, you know, we make a critical mistake and let the other team come back and [it] I felt like in the second half that moment had to happen because I’ve seen it so many times before and it just went the other way,” he said. .
When Jensen Rawlings ’25 scored his second try, Salazar immediately found Treat for a hug.
“The first person I found was Treat,” he said. “We both started sobbing, but after that hug I was like, there’s still 15 minutes left, we can still shit the bed.”
They did not do it.
Rawlings then scored a hat trick before leaping into the crowd, followed by two more tries from Mason Foard ’25 and Ethan Gould ’24, then a field goal from Espinosa.
“I couldn’t believe I was able to do this two or three times. It was amazing,” Rawlings said.
“We had the momentum,” Espinosa said. “That’s when everyone started breaking down, I would say in tears of happiness and also just emotion. You know, I remember falling to my knees at that point because I pretty much knew the game was over. We just needed to see it.
In those moments following the game’s official call for CC, Treat said it was “a pure jubilee.”
“Then the real emotion started like right after that moment, like we took a team photo, and then I started bawling my eyes out,” he said, “it was like the payoff for everything and that was how it was in itself a rush of emotion.
The picture on the pitch in those moments following the end of the game was a mix of high intensity emotions. There was celebration, elation, and equal parts the feeling of Hank’s physical absence. Many older Ruggers were also grateful and honored to have won as their recently graduated teammates could see.
“They were so happy and it made me feel so good because they put the shirt on so we could do this,” Treat said.
“It means so much to be able to go out there and win for [Hank]said Rawlings. “We really felt like we were playing with 16 guys there, we felt like there was just a little extra we were playing for.”
The Ruggers were squealing and crying in equal measure; some jump up to touch the hands of fans and alumni, and others, like Salazar and Treat, take a moment to lie down or kneel on the pitch and process the moment.
“When you imagine that moment, what you do over and over,” Treat said, “Hank was always there.”
This game was more than just a win for the team and the community, and it was reflected in the turnout and the energy on and off the pitch throughout the weekend.
Salazar said he saw kids in his classes, other teams, all flavors of student CC in the stands. Treat said he was approached by people who all said they were at the game, cheering on the rugby despite a hockey game and the general chaos of the parents’ weekend.
Salazar received text messages from people saying that watching the game was the most fun they had in CC and he couldn’t stop smiling for the rest of the weekend.
“I feel like the campus was happy that rugby won. Both teams won, which is super important,” Salazar said.