After a multiple-year long drought, the University of Minnesota has won the All Minnesota Rugby Tournament.
But it wasn't always a sure thing. After a blowout victory against Saint Johns University one week prior, the Gophers entered into their first match against North Dakota State University with little regard to the physicality and speed which their opponents would bring. A disjointed and slow-to-react Gophers side was conclusively beaten.
With a game against Bemidji State University only two hours away, the Gophers immediately began addressing and correcting the issues from the match against NDSU. A number of Gopher parents organized recovery snacks and a meal, keeping the athletes nourished, and it was back to work.
The match against Bemidji marked a return to form for the Gophers, who were determined to make up for their earlier mistakes. Tenacious defense, creative attack and a much more considerate style of play saw Minnesota control every phase of the game. With forwards working in tandem with the back line, the Gophers unleashed their attack and ran away with a 35-14 victory.
The Gophers spent the remainder of day 1 cheering on Gopher Womens Rugby before being notified that they would face NDSU once again - this time, in the semi-final match.
The second match against the "Lost Boys" of NDSU was far more to the liking of coach Jimmy Hanson, ending in a 14-10 victory. In a match characterized by physical and unrelenting defensive stands made by each team, the Gophers were able to rely on their patience to halt NDSU's attack and their speed on either wing to capitalize on any mistakes.
Only two hours later, Minnesota kicked off against Winona State University for the championship match. As with NDSU, Winona delivered an aggressive, physical and up-tempo style of play. Minnesota's defense was the star of the show once again, repelling phase after phase. However, the Gophers were simply not disciplined enough, and earned themselves 2 yellow cards during the match - each reducing the team to 14 players for the following 7 minutes.
However, Minnesota was able to utilize a dominant forward pack and speed on either wing. Capturing an early lead which they never relinquished, the Gophers were able to stave off a late attempt by Winona to come back, Minnesota won 17 - 12, and was awarded the first place trophy.