Kansas Jayhawk Rugby Football Club coach Andy Stewart had 53 players registered for the club this year, which is the most they had since he has been involved with the program for the past five years.
"Coaching for me is just not about the field; it's not just about the game, it's about helping the lads become better people," said Stewart when asked about coaching.
The team fundraised for the past six months and practiced for three weeks in order to travel and play Indiana University on Saturday, Sept. 4. Two days before their game, Indiana forfeited, leaving the team bitterly disappointed.
"It sucked honestly,” captain senior fly-half Chandler Owens said. “We were all looking forward to playing them because Indiana is a division ahead of us and ranked No. 7 in the country. We really thought we had a good chance of winning, but for them to forfeit, we felt like it showed they were scared to play us."
The Kansas City Blues Rugby Club Division III team stepped up to provide the Jayhawks a game on Saturday despite the forfeit. The Jayhawks started their season undefeated, with a 23-0 win.
"The Blues gave us a great game; everyone was ready to get out there and play," sophomore scrum-half Luke Connor said. "After our team not playing for two years, this past weekend was awesome to see how hard everyone was working and how much heart everyone has on the team."
"We have put a lot of our focus on skill work and fitness so far, which I think is going to separate us from a lot of the other teams we play," Owens said. "It was pretty evident in the last game we played, a men's club team. We were running circles around them towards the end of the game."
Kansas plays at the Westwick Rugby Complex in Lawrence, Kansas, for a matchup on Saturday, Sept. 18, against the Wichita Barbarians. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m.