BLACKSBURG, Va. (WFXR) — Virginia Tech is set to take the field this weekend in a sport that features an oval ball and a pair of uprights on opposite sides.
But this isn’t football. Instead, these Hokies are looking to take home a national title in rugby.
“I think we’re the true definition of a team. We don’t have the most talented players or the highest rugby IQ but we really just play for each other,” Virginia Tech senior eight Danny McKillop said.
In an area where football is king, a group of rugby players are hoping to deliver a national championship for Virginia Tech this weekend in Houston, Texas. The team will play West Chester for the Division I-AA title in National Collegiate Rugby.
“Our physicality has been our Virginia Tech Rugby theme ever since I’ve been here and instilled in us from the alumni and just carries over so as a player led organization, it’s pure accountability and being there for each other,” McKillop said.
VT men’s rugby doesn’t have a coach nor does it have players on scholarship, but it does have decades of tradition, with the club officially founded in 1968.
“We have a very strong alumni group and they’re all excited to see us,” senior fly half Fernando Anduaga said. “We actually have a couple of them flying down and supporting us down there. For them it’s awesome to see how much this club has grown.”
However, Tech has never competed for a national title until now. The team didn’t expect to get to this stage when the season started after the coronavirus pandemic wiped out much of last season.
“Our underdog mentality carried us through regionals and we’re still carrying that mindset into nationals,” McKillop said. “We love it, we just focus on ourselves. We don’t listen to the outside noise or anything. We focus on what we can control and our top three keys for this game are just possession, work ethic and physicality.”
The hard work has the team on the cusp of putting Virginia Tech rugby on the map.
“”I mean we’re out here every day this week and last week, trying to get the reps in on the field and off the field, we’ve had film sessions,” senior prop Quinlan Byrd said.
“Especially for me coming here knowing that I was going to play rugby and be part of this team, just being able to come back and finish off my time at Tech with a national championship would just be amazing.”
VT will play West Chester on Saturday, Dec. 11 at 3 p.m. at Aveva Stadium in Houston, Texas.
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