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Fresno State rugby club member Matthew Ogbuehi catches the ball in a game last season. (Courtesy of Fresno State Men’s Rugby Club)

Men’s rugby club aiming for playoffs

Fresno State men’s rugby is in the midst of yet another season, and the players are looking to build off the success of last year.

The program is young, getting its start in 2009. Head coach Patrick Quan said 2016 was the best season so far.

Due to the loss of nine players from the previous season, the team is trying to balance being in a rebuilding phase while competing for the playoffs.

“We’re just trying to get better. We are a new program,” Quan said. “We have lost games by over 100 points, so you kind of have to know where we started, and Northern California is a hotbed for rugby in the United States.”

Senior Jay Miranda likes what he has seen from his teammates in the early going.

“The guys are picking it up fast,” Miranda said. “A lot of them have never played rugby before and because of that, they are real open-minded.”

One such player who is new to rugby is senior Hondo Arpoika, a former high school football player. Aproika, who had never played rugby before, showed up at practice two weeks ago after being asked by a coach to join the team.

Arpoika said he was looking to find something to fill the void after he stopped playing football.

“The first thing we started doing was hitting pads, and I loved it from there on. From that moment there, it was like perfect,” Arpoika said.

The Bulldogs’ youthful squad will look to improve after losing two matches against Stanford and winning over Chico State 55-5 in the PacWest 7’s Tournament at the University of Nevada, Reno.
The team’s next action comes Saturday at home against Cal State Fullerton at the Kinesiology Field at 1 p.m.