Franciscan University of Steubenville’s Barons rugby team battled and lost against the Wheeling University Cardinals 81-5 Saturday at 1 p.m. at Franciscan’s Trinity Health System Field.
The Barons played a game of 15s, when both teams play 15 men on the field at a time, for the first time since COVID-19 regulations were passed last year. The Barons, ranked as Division III, fought hard during the game against the Cardinals’ Division I team.
The sidelines were filled with anticipation before the match, as both teams were greeted by an enthusiastic audience. In the first few minutes of the game, the Cardinals scored their first try, earning five points.
Ten minutes into the game, the Cardinals led with 31 points. At the 37-minute mark, they led with 50 points. Though they were unable to block these tries, the Barons made many successful tackles and lineouts.
A few minutes into the second half of the game, the Barons scored their first try of the game. Sophomore inside center John Thibault flew down the field to cheers from the sidelines. Despite their close pursuit, the Cardinals could not stop Thibault from scoring.
Senior fly half Rafe Lewis led the offense against the opposing team. Though they made many successful tackles that slowed the opposition, the game closed with a victory for the Cardinals.
“(This game) was a great way for (the players) to get in there, get hit hard and learn what the other team was doing, and improve from that,” said head rugby coach Jason Adams after the game. “We play Robert Morris next week, so it should be a lot more of a competitive game for us, so we’re looking forward to seeing how much we improve in it.”
The Barons’ next home match will be against the Robert Morris University Colonials on Sept. 11.