The UCF men's rugby club team is on its way to its third-consecutive national championship tournament. There's only one problem: It needs the money first.
The team just took home the South Independent Rugby Conference title this past weekend after a win over Middle Tennessee State University 48-10.
Now, all the team has to do is make it through the east regional quarterfinals and semifinals in Pittsburgh on April 25 and April 26 and it will earn a spot in the national championship final at Kennesaw State in Georgia on May 9. Unlike last year, there will be no Sweet Sixteen competition. Instead, the team will go straight into the Elite Eight in Pittsburgh.
On the journey to what could be its third-consecutive national title, team captain Scott Watters said the the team's winning strategy is staying the same.
"Our strategy isn't changing much. It's going to be a different dynamic coming in with new players coming in and old players leaving and new positions, but I believe UCF has its own style of rugby that we play as a program," the senior finance major said. "We just play hard, good tackling, good defense rugby and capitalize on any advantages that come our way. We're not going to be doing anything too special. What's worked in the past will work in the future."
Although the team is nationally ranked, its status as a club team—unaffiliated with the UCF Athletics programs—limits it funding for major tournaments and conferences. To supplement that deficit in funding, the team has resorted to crowdfunding to pay for its travel and lodging for these tournaments.
The team currently has a GoFundMe page open with roughly $6,000 of its $15,000 goal raised.
But this isn't the first year the team has gone this route to make it to the final. Last year, the team raised $16,000 of its $20,000 goal. The year prior in 2013, the team raised $15,600 to reach the final. Both times, the team ended up taking home the national championship title.
A Dublin native, Watters has almost a decade of rugby experience under his belt and has found that UCF's rugby team, though it may not be the largest program, has the dedication, physicality and ability of any team out there.
"We may not be the biggest team," he said. "I know we've been criticized on our size sometimes, but what's pulled us through a lot is hard work and dedication week in and week out."
If you want to donate to the cause...
UCF"s Men's Rugby's GoFundMe page: www.gofundme.com/kqrojs
Adam Rhodes is the Entertainment Editor at the Central Florida Future. Follow him on Twitter at @byadamrhodes or email him at AdamRCentralFloridaFuture.com.