The Crusader rugby team tore onto home field for their final match of the season this past Saturday, April 30, achieving Christendom sports history in the process. Playing in front of a packed crowd on Crusader Field, the Crusaders blew away the seasoned Griffins U23 rugby club 68-25, becoming the first Christendom sports team in history to win twenty games in a season.
Last fall, the Crusaders played the Griffins in the second round of the Cardinals Conference Tournament, with the smaller, injured Crusaders team ultimately falling to them. The Crusaders took the field on Saturday looking not only for their twentieth win, but also for redemption against the tough team, who were one of the few to overcome the Crusaders in the past year.
The Crusaders showed their vast improvement early in the game, with Dan Snyman and Nick Santschi continuing their incredible seasons with early tries against the Griffins. Over the course of forty minutes, the Crusaders played what many would call their best game of the season against the much larger team, rucking well, winning both their own ball and overturning the possession of the Griffins time after time.
“Before we started, [co-captain] Pat Audino made sure to tell us to leave nothing in the tank, as the team had the summer to recover. The boys took his words to heart and gave it their all,” said fellow co-captain Robert McKay, playing in his final game ever in Crusader blue.
The team certainly took Audino’s words to heart, hammering the Griffins again and again with tries, conversions, and drop kicks, never giving the Griffins a hope of defeating the Crusaders again. The boys ended their year with an unprecedented final score of 68-25, and a history-setting season record of 20-5 — the most wins ever achieved by a Christendom sports team.
In their twenty-five games played this season, the Crusaders collected three trophies for the Christendom trophy case, including huge tournament wins in New York City and Pittsburgh. The speed, conditioning, and camaraderie of the Crusaders characterized their incredible season — a season in which many members of the team were playing rugby for the first time.
Their spirit and perseverance led the Crusaders to huge wins against some of the nation’s best teams, including Duke University, James Madison University, the College of William & Mary, and Franciscan University of Steubenville in the 3rd Annual Shield Rugby Match.
While the Crusaders will be without co-captains Pat Audino and Rob McKay, as well as seniors Will Tomlinson and John Hebert, this coming fall, the team has much to be proud of, and much to look forward to, after this season, as the rugby program at Christendom continues to advance and improve in the coming years.