The NMHU Vatos have opened the spring rugby season with a modest but hopeful start for a very young team at 1-2.
After narrowly losing on the road to improving Clovis-Cannon AFB 14-7 (a squad boasting many Air Force Academy graduates) and an experienced El Paso 14-8, a 28-0 win over the hapless University of Chihuahua, Mexico, seemed bittersweet last weekend in El Paso.
“Although most teams we play, like El Paso, demographically have 50 to 100 times more potential rugby players available to them, the Vatos have generally prevailed,” said Dick Greene, longtime faculty adviser and previous coach and founder. “We have not yet adapted to losing nor should we ever become. This young team needs to earn the belief that we can compete with anybody. Little NMHU and Las Vegas can do something well. Over 20 years we have earned this reputation, and I hope that we can keep it.”
“Both the Clovis and El Paso games were evenly matched where the more experienced rugby men narrowly held back the college boys and their mistakes,” said coach Mando Herrera. “An average veteran men’s club will generally prevail over a learning college team. Rugby demands fitness and courage, but players also need to learn the game. It is a thinking man’s game. There is no instant success.”
The Vatos will need to learn quickly as they have three tough home games in a row after spring break. One of the games is against the current second-ranked team in the U.S., the Albuquerque Aardvarks, who were seen on ESPN last June in the national championship game against Palo Alto, Calif. The next Vato game is with the historic Santa Fe Santos at 1 p.m. Saturday, April 3, at Perkins Stadium. A social dinner hosted by the Vatos always follows the game.
Everyone is welcome to join the team; no experience is necessary. For more information contact Herrera at firstname.lastname@example.org or 469.7964.