Simpson Rugby hosts third annual showdown tournament


Photo: Tanner Krueger/The Simpsonian

by Matt Lash, Sports Editor

On March 17, the Storm hosted their annual rugby tournament, the Simpson Showdown, at Buxton Stadium. With four other teams participating in the one-day tournament, the Storm knew they’d face strong competition.

Simpson rugby plays sevens, meaning seven players per team, but there is also 15’s that many larger programs play.

Starting the tournament against Iowa Central, a community college in Fort Dodge, the Storm fell 29-10. Although they’re different teams, the Iowa Central 15’s team is one of the best teams in the nation. With the same coaching staff, both teams are highly skilled and compete against the best teams in the country.

After a tough loss to start the day, the Storm bounced back with a big 33-22 win over Wayne State.

The Storm finished their three-game day against IIAC rival Central College. After a close first half, the Dutch pulled away to end the game and gutted out a 25-15 win over the Storm.

“It’s tough to stay competitive with bigger schools and well-established programs,” said senior captain Logan Pifer. “We don’t have the funding that our competition has, so it’s tough to grow as a program.”

Though it’s not a school-sanctioned sport for the Storm, men’s rugby has been at Simpson since 2012. This season, nine players are on the pitch competing for the Storm in the underrepresented sport.

With brutal hits, similar scoring and gameplay much like football, rugby still stands in a league of its own. The biggest difference is the lack of pads for players. With less protection for rugby players, who often experience injury inducing hits, education is front and center in practice.

Finishing the tournament 1-2, the Storm are ready to put in the work to improve and stress the details to make themselves more competitive as the end of the season nears.

“We still need to iron down passing and endurance,” Pifer said. “We have the chemistry and the heart, and we’re playing physical matches, but we just need to get into better shape in the next two weeks heading into our national qualifier tournament.”

Head coach Jeff McHenry knows his team can play better, but they’re learning as the season progresses.

“The Central lose was tough, because that was one we should have won,” McHenry said. “We stay competitive with those teams, by knowing we can beat them.  The guys are all aware of the mistakes we made, we just need execute under pressure.”

Up next, the Storm will travel to Des Moines on April 7 for the Crossroads 7’s NSCRO Qualifier, where they will attempt to earn themselves a trip to nationals. To be successful at the qualifier, the Storm will have to improve on the details and prove they have what it takes to be competitive with other teams throughout the Midwest.