Photo by Willem Ytsma ‘16
Following a win against Washington College, Abe Satten ‘17 began to joke around with teammates that they were headed to nationals. Now, it’s no joke.
The men’s club rugby team is headed to the 7’s National Championship this weekend in North Carolina. Satten, along with the other 14 freshmen, is one of the main reasons for the team’s success.
“[Abe] has been really passionate about the team and going to nationals,” senior captain Joseph Tumulty said. “His position, the scum half, is like the quarterback in football. He always gets the ball out for the breakdown. He’s taken on a really important position and stepped up to the challenge.”
Satten had never played rugby before this year.
“Three or four guys on my floor decided to sign up at the activities fair,” Satten said. “I have been playing soccer my whole life. I really loved the team atmosphere of rugby. After the first practice, I realized that this team was something special and something that I wanted to be a part of.”
Satten said that learning how to play has been difficult. He claims he is still not completely familiar with all of the rules. Most of the freshmen have been relying on the seniors and captains for help.
“They’re good at yelling at us when we’re doing something wrong,” Satten said, laughing.
Regardless, the dedication of the freshmen class seems to be the reason for the team’s success and progression. A year ago, the team unfortunately saw the departure of 15 seniors.
“I don’t even think we were expected to make the playoffs this year,” Satten said. “But so far, coach [Dan Benedict] has said that we’re one of the most promising teams he’s seen at Lafayette.”
As a member of the Men’s Small College Division and in association with USA Rugby, the team was 3-3 this season. This was enough to earn them a berth in the eight-team hunt for the National Championship.
For this weekend, the team brought in Emil Signes, a former US Men’s and Women’s National 7s team coach to help prepare them. Signes also coached the German Men’s National 7s team and consulted for the Portuguese National 7’s team. Not limited to sevens, Signes has also helped coach the US Women’s National 15s team.
“None of us really know what to expect,” said Satten. “We brought him [Signes] in to try to help as much as possible. We’re all really excited.”
Having a chance at a national championship with 15 freshmen on the team makes the future optimistic for the men’s rugby team. Satten is excited for what the next four years have to offer and is eager to continue playing.
“This year, we’re losing a few more backs, so the juniors will have to step up next year,” Satten said. “A lot of the team is freshmen. If we stick together as a team, we should be really good in the future.”