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Men’s rugby club team hosts its first game

Charles Desouza
The UTEP volleyball team lost their last match of the season to New Mexico State last Wednesday on Nov. 25.

The Miner men’s rugby team hosted their first home game in club history at the Sun Bowl on Saturday, Feb. 20. Although they could not capture the victory against New Mexico Tech (49-42), the Miners rejoiced in their inaugural home game.

The team, who is not officially affiliated with the school’s athletic program, plays in the Rio Grande Rugby Union (RGRU) league. This league contains collegiate teams from New Mexico, Arizona, Texas and Oklahoma. Now two games into the season the Miners’ record is 0-2 in regular season play.

“I was extremely excited and I couldn’t sleep last night,” junior captain, flanker/inside center Norm Leyba said. “We have been playing together for over two years and this is the first time having a home game.”

During the first half of play against New Mexico Tech, the Miners got off to a slow start. The visitors scored the first two touches, back-to-back.  After the half, New Mexico Tech started to slow down, which allowed the ambitious Miner’s to chase them from behind and take the lead.

It wasn’t until the last few minutes of the game when New Mexico Tech scored to take back the lead, while also not leaving the Miners enough time to come back. This resulted in a seven-point loss.

“I played my heart out today and I can’t believe we actually got to play here at the Sun Bowl,” Leyba Said.

Head coach Delbert Arnold, who played the sport and is a UTEP graduate, leads the rugby team. Arnold has more than 20-years experience as an athlete and coach in the sport of rugby.  Arnold knew how important this game was to the club and prepared them for this game by making sure they were mentally and physically ready.

“We have a system that’s two weeks old,” Arnold said. “In rugby we don’t want to play the other teams’ game. We want to play our own.”

Leyba showed exactly why his teammates named him team captain by scoring 3 touches in their near come from behind victory.   

“He can play every position on the field and he is a team player,” Delbert said. “He is the perfect example of how you spell team, it‘s all Norm.”

Missed opportunities could have been one of the down falls in the Miner’s, however this young team still has room for growth.

“One of our biggest strengths is that our team is young,” Arnold said. “At times, that could also be our weakness.”

The Miners have four remaining games in their regular season, including three more games at home. After their regular season schedule, the team will compete in the RGRU Collegiate Championships in Albuquerque, N.M. on April 16.

They will take on FT. Bliss on Saturday, Feb. 27 in the Sun Bowl at 2 p.m. Admission to the game is free.

Charles Desouza may be reached at [email protected].

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Men’s rugby club team hosts its first game