Menaces on the Field, Class Acts Off It: Men’s Rugby

Games that involve sprinting at full speed to brutally tackle other players aren’t for everyone, but Ethan Widoff ’19 and Cian McGillicuddy ’20 swear by them. Rewarded with bruises and turf burns, they fearlessly chase down players to bring them to the ground and win the ball. 

Widoff began playing rugby as a junior when he transferred from Southwestern University, where he played baseball. “The hardest part is the mental toughness required to overcome the physical adversities of the game,” Widoff said. 

McGillicuddy  is a junior from New York and began playing rugby his first year at Colorado College. “I loved the people from the start,” he said. “I wanted to continue playing sports in a competitive setting after high school and also wanted to be part of a fun community on campus.”

Photos by Alli Moon

Many people are intimidated by the fast-paced and contact-oriented sport, but Widoff and McGillicuddy never felt scared of rugby. They also insist that rugby is so much more than its age-old stigma of being really aggressive, hitting people, and then having a beer. 

“I appreciate the effort my teammates put into other aspects of their lives: academics, philanthropy, fraternities, et cetera,” Widoff said. “They are great men first, and good rugby players second.”

Widoff went on to explain what makes the spring season so special, adding that it suits his game well, and the team is much more competitive in the faster style of play.

“We switched divisions to the National Small College Rugby Association so we wanted to make an impression on our new division and make playoffs in the fall and the spring,” McGillicuddy said. “Unfortunately, we didn’t, but are excited about the new division and hope to do well next year. That being said, we still had a great spring sevens season.”

Going into their final tournament of the season, the Division II national qualifying tournament, the team was just looking to grab a few wins against some serious competition from much larger schools, but did well to perform better than their seeding would have implied.

“We got invited to Air Force to play in the Division II Rocky Mountain qualifier to play as a friendly team in the bracket, and we beat Air force C 40–0 and CSU B 34–10 both of which have really strong programs and lots of students to draw from,” McGillicuddy said.

“Our goal was to win a trophy, and we ended up taking third,” Widoff said. “Competing against schools like Air Force, Boulder, Colorado State, and Metro State, I was very happy with our result.”

With a solid result in their final tournament of the season, players are excitedly looking to the future. 

“In terms of personal goals, I just wanted to get better as a player and try to do a good job of helping new players get better and appreciate how awesome the sport is,” McGillicuddy said. “We have a really strong freshman class this year, so I’m super excited for the future of the program. I think we met the goal of making the future of the club strong.” 

  

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