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UTEP Rugby Club makes their way to Tokyo, Japan

SJE Photography

A trip to Tokyo, Japan is set in Aug. 2022 for the UTEP Rugby Club. 

UTEP Rugby Football club is a Division 1 rugby program founded in 1972. The Miners compete in the Lonestar Rugby Conference where they play against rugby programs in the state of Texas, such as Sam Houston State University, Texas State University, University of Houston and the University of Texas at San Antonio, among others. 

“One of our biggest victories came in 2018 when we traveled to Austin, Texas to take on the Texas Longhorns, defeating them 17-0,” said UTEP Rugby’s Vice President Vincent Montoya. “Our goal is to show the rest of Texas and the Southwest that the Miners of UTEP aren’t some West Texas second-string club, but a serious competitor that is ready for anything.” 

The UTEP Rugby club is making history with this two-week tour to Tokyo, Japan, where they will be playing against local clubs and university programs, all the while experiencing the cuisine and culture of Japan. 

“We would like to thank Aaron Pokluda, a UTEP and Miners Rugby alumni responsible for suggesting this campaign abroad,” Montoya said. 

During the two weeks the Rugby club will spend in Japan, they will play three matches against local rugby clubs such as a university local club, a foreign expatriates club and one of the professional development clubs; the club may even get the opportunity to play against the Tokyo Fire Department team. To round out its two-week trip, UTEP Rugby club plans to do some sightseeing as well as hopefully getting to attend a Sumo match, a professional baseball game, visit Tokyo Disneyland, Mount Fuji and many more. 

“We relish the challenge and look forward to meeting our fellow athletes on the field,” Montoya said. 

The Miners will also have the opportunity to train at various rugby training sites in Japan in order to get a feel for different types of conditioning, tactics and techniques that each Japanese club does in order to prepare for a match.  

“Japan has a strong rugby culture, and their national team is peers with the New Zealand All Blacks and the South Africa Springboks, so we’re excited for the opportunity to learn from the programs that feed to the Japanese national team, the Sakura,” Montoya said. 

Montoya explains that the purpose of the tour is to develop team talent while establishing Miners Rugby on a national level, as well as use preceding camps in El Paso in conjunction with overseas training to help their starting XV and their supporting players be ready for anything. 

“Many of our alumni have gone on to play in professional rugby teams after graduating, and we view this trip as a way to put UTEP on the map in a bigger way than ever,” Montoya said. 

Being able to have these experiences, Montoya explains, will allow the players of the UTEP Rugby club to adapt to being under pressures that they have not experienced.  

“Since we are heading overseas to a country where rugby is a very popular sport, we will be facing athletic talent from clubs who are at a higher standard than clubs here in the United States,” Montoya said. “As they say, ‘go big or go home.’” 

The UTEP Rugby Club expressed that the opportunity to travel to another country will allow them to develop and experience what it is like to be on an international tour.  

“This trip is undoubtedly a good opportunity to open the doors for other possible international tours, as well as have our players be scouted by higher level rugby clubs,” Montoya said. “After all, who wouldn’t love to take one’s game to another country, to play one’s best?” 

Montoya finished by saying, “The Miners Rugby Football Club is a close-knit group. As a student organization we rely on student dues, donations, and sponsorships from local businesses. We work together, play together, and win together. We’re incredibly grateful to the community and the student body for supporting and believing in us, and to all the players and teammates who make Miners Rugby what it is.” 

The UTEP Rugby Club will face off against New Mexico State University Saturday, Oct. 2 at University Field. 

Katrina Villarreal may be reached at [email protected] 

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About the Contributor
Katrina Villarreal, Multimedia Editor
Katrina Villarreal is senior multimedia journalism major with a minor in theatre at UTEP. She is going into her second year at The Prospector and is currently the Multimedia Editor. Once she graduates, she plans on becoming a sideline reporter for the NFL or ESPN.  
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UTEP Rugby Club makes their way to Tokyo, Japan