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Club History

2002

The WSC Rugby Football Club plays its first full contact scrimmage in March 2002. The girls of South Dakota State drives three hours from Brookings to help teach the women ruggers the game of rugby, with live scrum-downs, lineouts, kickoffs, and fullback line play.

Over 150 students and family members sat on the hill overlooking the Intramural softball fields to learn the game in a very controlled situation-only scrimmage. The girls from Wayne learned more as the one-hour scrimmage continued and then played a short 10-minute game, and a long score was put on the board by Cassi Johnson.

At the conclusion of the women's scrimmage, the WSC men took to the field to also do live tackling against SD State. Not against the men, but the women of Brookings stepped up to the plate to play a short game of "soft tackling." The WSC men did learn a lot from playing the gals of SDSU, and it helped them win their first game the following weekend.

Rugby Equipment and Jerseys 

With $0 in the new checking account and having to wait an entire year for the first school-funded check, Founder and Head Coach Darrin Barner purchased over $5,000 in rugby equipment and storage rent for all the equipment, jerseys, and goal posts.

The First Win and First Score

The weekend after the scrimmage with SDSU, both the men and women of WSC go to the Albatross Rugby tournament, a tournament in honor of Keith Kohlbaum, founder of the Strom Lake RFC.

In their very first weekend out, WSC men and women post victories. The women defeated Winona State of Minnesota, and the first score in school history was put on the board by flyhalf Steph Ngirchomei. The men defeated the hosts for their first victory, and the first try was scored with a key play by Lewis Benton, and with a loose ruck off of the tackle, Preston Parker ran around the weak side of the ruck and dotted the ball down in the right corner of the try zone.

Fox Sports World Cable Channel mentions WSC on the Championship Rugby Show with former USA Eagles Captain Brian Vizard wishing WSC well after posting their very first win on their first weekend.

USA Eagle under 19's Girls player Angela Mathews reads about Wayne State's quick success and emails Coach Barner, acknowledging she would attend WSC after she finished her final year in high school in Milwaukee, Wis.

WSC Student Activities Board awards the WSC Rugby Club $1,540, the most ever in school history, after Coach Barner announces that Texas Christian University would challenge WSC during Homecoming weekend.

With the lack of seating at the intramural fields, the WSC players pay money out of their own pockets to have the game played out of town in Laurel, Neb., 15 miles up the road at their new football stadium, and save any field stress to the WSC Memorial Stadium grass. Letters to the editor pound the Wayne Stater wondering why the game was moved out of town for such a big event. WSC men take their frustrations from this chaos and defeated TCU in Laurel.

Businessman Rod Tompkins meets with Barner to discuss what needed to be done to keep major games like this in Wayne.

2003

WSC is invited to the Great Plains Rugby Union Conference.

WSC men and women travel to Texas for games during Spring Break .

WSC is on National TV, when they are on the NBA Basketball Show when Mark Cuban, the owner of the Dallas Mavericks, mentions to the television audience that Wayne State rugby players are great and also mentions that he was a rugby player at the University of Indiana in his college days.

The City of Wayne is delighted when 28 rugby teams come to Wayne for a two-day rugby event, filling up every hotel room in town and an estimated $40,000 brought into the City. The tournament had a rematch of the 2002 National Championship with Minnesota University taking on the University of Northern Iowa in the women's Division I final in Wayne.

WSC has a brand new scrum sled.

WSC Rugby and Tompkins Rugby Park is a feature article in the August 2003 edition of USA Rugby Magazine.

In their very first season in League Play, WSC men and women both win the league title, and will advance to the first round of the USA National Playoffs by representing the Great Plains Rugby Union in the Western Playoffs in April 2004.

Wayne State women go undefeated with a 9-0 record and outscore their fall 2003 opponents 360-40. Since their very first victory, the WSC women have a record of 32-5 in their first four semesters of rugby.

More than 200 WSC rugby fans travel two and a half hours to Lincoln to watch the WSC women defeat the University of Nebraska to win the Great Plains Rugby Title in a weekday night game at UNL.

WSC Rugby has now been on the Sports segments on ABC-NBC in the Sioux City TV Market two times each.

WSC men and women assist in the two-day rugby event in LeMars, Iowa, for the British Days events. WSC receives several words of praise and thanks on local and area newspapers, radio, and TV for the college in general.

2004

In September 2004, the 12-acre Tompkins Rugby Park will be open for play on four rugby fields located on East 4th Street next to the Wayne Softball Complex, just two blocks south of Pamida. The game field will be an official International Rugby Board pitch and will be 76.6 yards wide and will hold up to 1,500 fans. Rod Tompkins of Heritage Homes of Wayne donated funding for the complex and has become WSC's #1 rugby fan.

Riley's Pub donates a 47-passenger bus so that the rugby team can travel in style.

Tompkins Rugby Park looks to make the September 2004 deadline for the first home game of the fall 2004 season.

A $10,000 one-day event budget has been handed over from Angie Watson of LeMars, Iowa, Tourism Board to WSC Rugby to help assist with the British Days Rugby Challenge. Ms. Watson and the City of LeMars were so pleased with WSC's help and organization in 2003 that the City of LeMars contacted WSC to help with the Sept. 11, 2004, event, for a 28-team tournament and another fine stadium marquee match up with over 1,200 expected with a night game under the lights.

A 48-foot locker room is donated to the new rugby complex by Wrede Farms of Pierce, Neb.

2005

WSC women and men qualify for the opening round of USA National Playoffs again to Greeley, Colo. WSC women defeated Northern Colorado (who was a “Sweet 16” nationally ranked team the year before), and the men defeated Angelo State in a very hard match. Angelo State was the #1 seed coming out of Texas, sitting above Texas Tech and Baylor.

Lights were purchased by founder Darrin Barner; however, it was just for a third of the field, but in due time, more lights will be purchased, and the club has high hopes that can accomplished by the end of the 2007 season.

2006

The Wayne Rugby Tournament had 40 teams entered as of February, and everyone was ready for the best weekend in the Midwest with the games played in mid-March. Four days before the tournament, 10 inches of snow fell. On game day, the snow was 5 inches thick, and the games went on, and Midwest Texas State made snow angels for their very first time.

September 2006 saw new white goal posts raised on the main match pitch. A second changing room, press box, radio room, PA system, ref changing room and a two story clubhouse with a second-story patio deck for VIP’s and sponsors. The clubhouse was a joint adventure with Rod Tompkins and also Sand Creek Post and Beam Barn Company.

Field #4 is starting to take shape and new grass seed was put down on the main pitch and also Field #4 to make it tournament-ready in the spring of 2007. Wayne Rugby Park is getting very near completion. It is 16 acres in area and has four very solid rugby pitches.

November 2006 WSC women and men were crowned Great Plains Champions for their fourth straight year in just four years of league play. They will both advance to the USA National Playoff structure going to the Western Regionals on Easter weekend of 2007. Winner of this three-game weekend will advance to the Sweet 16 in late April 2007.

2007

Women and men both took Great Plains Rugby Union for the fifth straight year, with the women going undefeated and winning a hard-fought game vs. the Cornhuskers of the University of Nebraska, 20-5.

Bleachers are added to the main pitch area with available seating for 500.

Sirens and flashing police lights are added to the rooftop of the press box for each time the Wildcats score.

To promote a record homecoming crowd, a Russian MIG fighter jet does two flyovers and an acrobatical halftime show. Many Northeast Nebraska people, now at the jet show, watch their first rugby game. Rugby is exploding and soring in Wayne, Neb.

2008

Women pull off two great playoff wins by defeating Texas Tech and a come-from-behind victory with a 12-phase 90-yard try in the last two minutes to defeat Truman State and go to the “Elite 8” in Albuquerque, N.M. The Wildcats fall only 10-14 to a varsity program out of Vermont-Norwich. Men lose a heartbreaker on a very hard game of 25-28 to Creighton University to stop the playoff advancement for the men. WSC is stopped on the 4-meter line in the closing moments of the game, in what many say was the best college rugby match in Great Plains history.

The annual Wayne Rugby Tournament hits 65 teams from 17 different states and Canada in March.

Black Hawk Helicopter planned with rugby ball parachuted with a team at halftime.

2009

WSC women win the Great Plains for the seventh year in a row and pull off with 14 straight wins and advance to the Elite 8 weekend in Orlando, Fla., where the WSC Wildcats fall to the “Big Blue” of the University of Michigan Wolverines. The men have only one collegiate loss in Great Plains falling to Creighton University.

National Guard puts up a tower that is 35 feet above the pitch to become a broadcast tower, and WSC rugby is now play-by-play for radio listeners in town and also on the internet.

Game is videotaped for the #1 TV show on NET-TV, "Big Red Wrap-Up.” Nine hundred fans turn up to watch Wayne State play at home vs. the University of Nebraska with a 24-0 win. View response to the show is-mind blowing to TV staff of how much the state is curious about this small college program.

2010

WSC Women win the Great Plains Rugby League for the 8th year in a row, and advance in playoffs over Truman State from Missouri, however the next advancement was at LSU in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and fall to Texas Tech and fail to advance to the “Sweet 16’s”.  WSC men take up the challenge and with a younger and aggressive team of sophomores, go to the Tournament of Champions in Illinois and play great against top level collegiate teams. Things look very promising for this group of younger players.

Field #5 is developed and planted at the rugby complex, known as the “House of Pain in Wayne”

AC and Heat is added to the press box, and Heat and Fans are in place at the club house.

Brand New Scoreboard of 40 feet now on main field.

New parking lot and a new street is brought to the rugby park with a new 60 room hotel being only 1 block from the rugby park.  110 rooms are now just 2 blocks from the park and 2 new roads to enter the facility for home and visiting fans from HWY 35.

2011

NInety teams sets a record for the Wayne Tournament, from 17 different states and Canada.

The WSC women and men are the #1 team in the nation by USA Rugby by having the most players in junior and senior classes with over a 3.7 GPA! This is out of 900 college teams.

WSC women win the Great Plains for the ninth year with a win over Augustana and move on with the playoffs, falling in the Elite 8. An extremely controversial stage was set when WSC had three players carded, and WSC played 12 on 15 in a game that was deemed the top two teams in the USA-National Small College Playoffs. WSC fell by only 25 points playing with three players in the Sin Bin. Carleton University went on to win the national title 59-7, only two weeks later in New Jersey. A game to wear Carleton even gave sympathy for WSC. 

The men’s side comes out with an incredible scoring explosion and with a record of 12-1, their only loss to Kansas University, the men could only be on their way to the Final 4; however, playing 20 minutes down a man (playing 14 on 15), WSC has a loss to St. Edwards Texas with a loss of only 2 points. Wayne State ends up ranked #5 in the USA in NSCRO rankings for women and men’s programs. 

2012

WSC women and men are voted #1 again over 900 other colleges as the #1 team in the nation for overall GPA of 3.7 or higher by juniors and seniors on the squad. 

WSC Rugby women go on a 16-game fall season winning the Great Plains Conference for the 10th straight year and winning playoff games to advance to the Final 4. The trip to Cherry Hill, N.J., for the national title was not easy in the semifinal with a 23-21 victory over Wheaton College and a 32-0 win in the national championship game over Rhode Island-Roger Williams University. The team is greeted coming back home with a parade on Main Street and all the players riding on top of firetrucks. 

With a #5 men’s national ranking in NSCRO rugby and returning 13 players, WSC goes on a great 15-1 streak with their only loss to the Jayhawks of Kansas University. Things look great to have the men’s team advance to the Final 4, as what many say is a fully loaded offense and the best team for WSC ever on the men’s side. Things are cut short with the Wildcats losing on a very windy, rainy day to varsity program California Maritime. The day was not the weather for one of the fastest run and gun backlines in small college rugby.

WSC women face at home Notre Dame, Oklahoma University, and Northwestern, coming out 3-0 over much larger and storied name programs. Wayne is buzzing on the news of these wins.

State of Nebraska Economic Bureau says that the Wayne Rugby Team pulls in $400,000 in 48 hours in the community from the tournament that is put on by the club members.

WSC rugby travels to Denver, Colo., to watch the USA men win an exciting game over Russia in a sold-out stadium in Glendale’s Infinity Park.

2013

WSC announces that rugby lines will be part of the new field turf project in the summer of 2013 at Memorial Stadium on campus.

Rugby will have access to stadium and use field during day or night with football lighting for practice; however, games will be played at Field #5 “House of Pain in Wayne” with a fully loaded clubhouse and press box on the home side of the bleachers.

New cement sidewalks and patio area were installed around the bleachers and clubhouse.

Land Developer Lou Benscooter becomes an avid rugby fan and looks to add showers/locker rooms to the rugby park over the next two years.

WSC rugby women win the national championship in Philadelphia and return to Wayne with a parade up Main Street. The Back-To-Back National Champions are greeted outside memorial stadium by the WSC marching band, faculty, staff, and student body. ABC News Channel 9 was on hand with a warm greeting and newscast on the return. New bleachers and picnic area is added to the main seating are of the Wayne Rugby Park. Broadcast tower for home team and visiting team radio undergoes improvements for broadcasts.   

2014

In late August, WSC starts off Memorial Stadium with its first win on the new field turf with an excellent crowd on a Thursday night game over South Dakota State.

WSC rugby men fall in the closing seconds to New Mexico Highlands at the end of the year and miss the opportunity to advance to the national finals in Philly. NBC-TV televises the CRC event where New Mexico Highlands ends the season as the #2 team in the nation. WSC rugby women travel to Grand Rapids, Mich., and bring back their third national championship in three years. WSC rugby purchases a second scrum sled to allow women and men to have more time on scrummaging.

2015

New LED scoreboard and PA system is added to the game field along with a full aeration and thick overseeding on the main pitch. Stadium lighting is put on Field #3 at the campus practice area. This will allow WSC rugby to use two fields during the afternoon and Field #3 for night practice. Family owner of Chicago Cubs and Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts sits in the VIP area of the clubhouse to cheer on both the women and men in their open round of national playoffs. WSC men advance to the national playoff rounds in Philadelphia as part of the NBC-TV event of the CRC’s. WSC rugby men falls to defending national champion New England College by two scores. WSC rugby women travel to New York City to take part in the national championships at the 8 million dollar Anderson Rugby Field in New York. After winning their fourth national championship, the rugby women have a night of sightseeing in Manhattan, including the Statue of Liberty, Broadway, and Times Square after a celebration supper.