UNI rugby teams advance to National Tournament Finals May 4-5

Posted on Sunday, April 28th, 2002

Tim Klatt, associate director\recreation & sport clubs, UNI Wellness & Recreation Services, (319) 273-7120
Vicki Grimes, University Marketing & Public Relations, (319) 273-2761

CEDAR FALLS, Iowa -- The men's and women's rugby clubs at the University of Northern Iowa both competed in the 'Elite 8 Tournaments' of the Men's and Women's Collegiate Division II April 19 ï¾— 21, and each team advanced to the national championship.

The UNI Women's Rugby Club advanced with wins over San Jose State and Arizona State. They will meet the University of Minnesota for the national title in Blaine, Minn., May 4.

The UNI Men's Rugby Club defeated teams from Claremont College in California and Sam Houston in Texas. The UNI men now advance to the national title game against Stanford University, to be played May 4, in Virginia Beach, Va.

While Klatt said the university is able to assist with travel support for both teams and some motel accommodations, and the teams have received some funding from Northern Iowa Student Government, a large part of their support comes from their own fundraising efforts.

The teams' coaches are volunteers. Steve Murra, the women's coach, has been with the team since its formation in 1994. Murra was completing his undergraduate degree when he was asked to coach a women's team at UNI. Under his tenure, the women's teams have compiled an impressive record of 229 wins and 17 losses.

The men's team began in the 1970s and Jason Nottger is coach, completing his second year.

Several current and recent team members of the women's team have received high honors in the sport. Two women, 2001 graduate Jen Sinkler from Montezuma and senior Liberty Caplan from Alden, are the only two women ever from Iowa to play with the women's international team, the Eagles. Sinkler recently returned from the 'Hong Kong 7s,' the world championship for the '7s' season. Caplan, who played in two international matches against Canada last summer, recently won one of 26 spots on the Women's World Cup team that will compete in Barcelona, Spain, beginning May 12. She will be the first college student ever to play for the U.S. team in a World Cup.

Another 2001 graduate, Sarah Kunde of Bellevue, was an under-23 national team member and current player Kate Cox of Harlan has qualified for that team.

On the men's team, Paul Emerick, a UNI junior from Pella, was chosen to represent the U.S. on the men's Eagles 7 team that also played in the Hong Kong 7s tournament, as well as the Beijing 7s tournament. He was one of only two collegiate players in that team. Last summer, he was named to the 2001 Collegiate All-American Rugby Team that successfully competed in Dublin, Ireland in September. This summer, he has been invited to play for the 'Eagles 15,' competing for the U.S. on a seven-week European tour.

Nottger has six players currently being considered to be among the 40 players from the nine-state Midwest region to attend the Collegiate Midwest Camp. From those 40, 25 will be selected to represent the Midwest against teams from the other regions, potentially advancing to the national team.

Note: to obtain a complete listing of the rugby players, please contact the Office of University Marketing & Public Relations at (319) 273-2761.