The Memphis Tigers (8-3) will test their abilities against Lindenwood (18-4), a rugby juggernaut, in St. Charles, Missouri, on April 13 for the last confirmed game of the season.
Head coach Steve Swatzyna said he thinks Lindenwood is a true challenge but his team is capable of being successful regardless of the outcome.
“We play well as a team,” Swatzyna said. “We support each other and we are going to up to Missouri and give Lindenwood our best shot.”
Lindenwood is one of the highest achieving rugby programs in the country. They are ranked fifth in the men’s Division I college rankings. The Lions played some of the best teams in the nation including Life University. The Lions four losses came from Arkansas State, Life University (twice) and St. Louis. Lindenwood competed against Clemson, Texas, Texas A&M, Michigan and Navy and nearly broke the scoreboard.
Swatzyna said the Lions have built a strong program because of their successful recruiting capabilities. He also said they recruit many of their players from South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. He also said there are several leaders in the Tiger Rugby program that Lindenwood may have a challenge stopping.
Regardless of the outcome Saturday, the Lions will be headed to the D1A rugby playoffs. Lindenwood is scheduled to play No. 3 Wisconsin from the East Region.
Scrumhalf Britton Roedel said he thinks the team will be able to focus on their game plan and play as a team. They should see success in the game.
“I think we need to focus on staying spread out on defense and coming up as a unit as opposed to individual players shooting up and causing gaps,” Roedel said.
Roedel scored five tries in the series against Ole Miss and has been a prolific scorer for the Tigers. Roedel has led the backline for the majority of the year and had a successful junior season. Roedel gained attention after being the only player on the team to have scored more than three tries in multiple games.
“On the offensive side I think if we keep a calm head and not try to force things,” Roedel said. “The gaps will open up and give us opportunities to put points on the board.”
Memphis has averaged 26.4 points per game and allowed an average on 13.2 points after 11 games. Lindenwood has played 11 more games than Memphis this season. The Lions have averaged 35.7 points per game and allowed an average of 11.9 points per game after 22 matches. Lindenwood’s schedule has demonstrated the high level of rugby they have played at.
Fullback Turk Wigley said the practices have become more intense and faster paced as they prepare for the Lindenwood game. Wigley is one of many freshmen who has exceeded expectations and scored a handful of tries on the season.
“I expect Lindewood to be very physical, very organized and overall good at the whole game,” Wigley said. “I think the game is going to come down to who wants it more. We have a lot to gain and nothing to lose by putting our all onto the field.”