September 2016 Newsletter
By Jon Murphy
For most teams, the coming months mark the start of a new season. For the Longhorns, that new season started in May. While most teams were soaking in rays at the beach, Captain Carson Youman was leading systematic fitness sessions in 100+ degree weather. Social Media chair David Blinn was overseeing a restoration of the team website. And recruitment chair William Wang was building the foundations of a solid recruiting process.
These are some of many aspects of a new attitude of UT Rugby. The time off was a time for improvement, and a time to prepare the program for one of its best seasons yet. Recruitment has yielded over 50 new teammates, some with international backgrounds in France, New Zealand, and Scotland among others. Fundraising has yielded strong showings; most recently raising funds at UT sponsored events and profit shares with local businesses. Even social media saw massive improvement as the team has revealed a new Instagram account and improved website.
Enough about the past, let’s look at the next few weeks. The longhorns are set to have their first official team practice tonight, and they will have no shortage of talent on and off the field. Chris “Bus” Hopps returns as head coach, and by his side are Richie Barnes, a backs coach with an international rugby background and IQ, Greg Hesch, a forwards coach and UT Rugby great, Chris O’Connor, a backs coach and Bowling Green alum, and Tommy Gilmore, a forwards coach and former UT Rugby Captain.
On field, the Longhorns return 10 starters, including All-Conference Red River scrum half Eddy Caballero. Carson Youman looks to lead the backline at fly half with an attacking game that emphasizes quick ball and minimal rucking. What will not be forgotten, however, is the UT Rugby tradition of toughness in the tackle contest and the breakdown, which will be led by the big, nasty forwards featuring senior Reed Hogan at 8-man.
The Longhorns have their first match in Dallas on October 7th against long-time rival OU. After barely squeezing out a victory against UT last year, the Sooners find themselves at #20 in the country according to the Goff Rugby Report. Coach Hopps had this to say about the ranking and the upcoming season:
“We are at Burr (field) for practice tonight.”
Clearly, the Longhorns have no concern about preseason rankings or the “He-said-she-said” associated with any sports conference. Instead, they are ready to make a statement, as characterized by Club President Steven Taylor:
“Our team has been preparing for this season with a chip on our shoulder so be prepared for us to make some noise early.”
The noise has already begun, and the Longhorns are ready to see their preseason work pay off.
Hook ‘Em Horns!