The MU rugby club is set to play Division I ball this fall.
The decision was made official July 10 in a meeting for Division I club teams, held at Bishop Ward High School in Kansas City. The purpose of the meeting was to appoint leaders and to schedule the upcoming season.
The other teams in the Division I conference are Arkansas, Truman State, Oklahoma State, Kansas and Kansas State, according to Missouri rugby team president Tony Born.
The Missouri rugby club team was No. 2 among the Division II teams in the state with St. Louis University ranked No. 1.
“We were undefeated in our conference until our loss to St. Louis University – we didn’t have a lot of competition in our conference," forwards captain Dan Kloeckener said. “We would travel to play friendly games with lower teams, and we upset them.”
The men's rugby club is sponsored by the university but is not a varsity sport nor sanctioned by the NCAA. The division decision is not based on competitiveness, but more on how the teams play in their current division, according to Kloeckener.
“This is a big step for us,” backs captain Mark Menne said about moving divisions. “There is a consistent 30 guys who show up for each game. The team is open to any experienced or inexperienced players.”
As a high school student, Menne heard about rugby and became a Missouri player his freshman year. “I tried to help new guys and taught them what I knew. The team voted for captains.”
As a senior, this is Menne’s last year, but the game will go on. “We are a very social team; even the guys who have graduated keep in contact.”
Practice will start back up when school begins. “There will most likely be three practices a week and a fourth for conditioning,” Dan Kloeckener said.
“I want people more motivated to come out,” he added.