BOZEMAN — The last time MTN Sports caught up with the Montana State men’s rugby team in October they were 4-0. Since then, MSU breezed through the rest of their schedule and finished undefeated on the season. The Bobcats earned a trip to the Independent D2 National Collegiate Championship in Charlotte, North Carolina this weekend.
“We’re through it," MSU head coach Joseph Williams said about this season. "We’re still undefeated and we have a big game now coming up with Auburn. We’ll see. They’re not undefeated, they got a loss to Georgia Tech in there.”
With only one senior on the team and many juniors who had never earned playing time before as freshmen, as COVID ruined their sophomore year, they worked hard and stepped up to get the team to this point.
“They picked up the reins great and they’re been trying real hard and they’ve been working out real hard," Williams said. "I mean, here we are. We’re here. We fly out for North Carolina tomorrow.”
However, the team wouldn’t be able to go to the tournament without the help of the community. Their supporters helped them reach their $12,500 GoFundMe goal to get to North Carolina.
“With minimal help from any entity we have to do this all ourselves," Williams said about the fundraising the team had to do. "Meanwhile, by the way, these kids are going to school full time and the coaches work full time jobs. It’s incredible. I really have to thank the community and it’s kind of humbling to see all the money and that’s the cool part of it — for as little help as we get, it’s amazing how much the community donated to us.”
The team has spent lots of time helping out the community and it was humbling for Williams to see the Bobcat fans rally around his squad.
“This is what I’ve been telling the kids for years when it’s like, ‘hey you do this kind of stuff in the community, that community is going to support you eventually.’ And this was it and finally after 12-15 years we made it to this point in our lives where it’s like the community came out. It was outstanding. Humbling. Humbling.”
No matter what happens in the championship tournament, Williams says this team has heart.
“For these kids to keep up their school work and like I said, do all this work to get us here -- fantastic," he said.
The Bobcats first game is on Saturday against Auburn at 10 a.m. Eastern Standard Time.