Men’s club rugby team wins national title

First it was the UW-Whitewater football team in December that won a national championship.

Then it was the men’s wheelchair basketball team’s turn to snatch a national title of its own in March.

Now, it’s the men’s club rugby team that is bringing home the hardware.

Behind an impressive defensive front, the Warhawks defeated Middlebury College (Vermont), 7-3, in Sunday’s Division II championship match in Pittsburgh.

The title is the ’Hawks’ first in the program’s 22-year history.

And they accomplished this feat by defeating a club in the finals that is accustomed to the national stage.

Just two years ago, Middlebury mowed through the field to win a national title.

After squeaking past Salisbury in the semifinals, 29-26, they were one step away from its second title in three years.

UW-Whitewater had other plans.

While it was the fewest points scored for Pat O’Conner’s squad in the four playoff games, it didn’t matter because the three points it allowed is the fewest points any team allowed in the postseason.

The championship comes after the ’Hawks were eliminated in the first round of the Division II playoffs in 2010.

The defensive struggle title match was a contrast of the offensive numbers, UW-Whitewater and Middlebury piled up before the match.

Middlebury averaged 33.7 points per match in three playoff contests, while the ’Hawks averaged 37 points per match.

The ’Hawks defeated three California schools to reach the title match. They defeated Cal-State Fullerton, 46-7, in the first round, Cal Maritime, 36-19, in the quarterfinals and Sierra College, 29-20, in the national semifinals on Saturday.

UW-Whitewater’s run to the championship was made possible after it defeated Michigan State in the Midwest Regional Championship last November.

For a full recap of the rugby team’s championship with comments from team members, check back here on Wednesday.

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