By Colin Reagan, Contributing Writer
The UMF Men’s Rugby team recently ended the most successful season in its history after going undefeated during the regular season, and winning the New England regional championship. For one member of the team, Zach Nadeau, a four-year member of the team, this season was one that he appreciates whole-heartedly.
In the Spring semester of 2016, Nadeau was surprised with a diagnosis of leukemia and was forced to take a year off from rugby, a sport that he loves and enjoys. “Last year was rough not being able to play,” said Nadeau. “Thankfully my doctors, coaches, and teammates have been nothing but supportive in getting me back on the pitch.”
Senior member of the rugby team Patrick McDonald commended Nadeau and his character. “Zach was for sure missed last year. He’s a workhorse really, he gives one hundred percent all the time,” McDonald said. “He’s a leader, and someone that everyone looks up to in some way, and we’re all super happy to have him back.”
“Coming back this season has quite frankly been a dream come true,” Nadeau said grinning. “At this time last year, I honestly wasn’t sure if I would ever be able to play again forUMF, or at all.”
Matthew Bigelow, Assistant Coach of the team, believes Nadeau provides so much more with his leadership to the team. “His presence makes his teammates, coaches, friends, family and spectators appreciate not just rugby but life in itself,” said Bigelow. “I have always admired Zach’s heart but that man has a good soul. We’re humbled that he’s a part of this program.”
This rugby season, after going undefeated in the regular season, the team won the New England Rugby Football Union championship. The men’s rugby team then made it to the championship in the Northeast region, but lost to the talented Salve Regina team. This match ended their season with a successful record of 9-1.
Nadeau credits all of the hard-working people who have fought for this along the way. “We owe this to the dedication of our coaches and the commitment of our players, as well as the immense amount of work put in by UMF teams of the past who have laid a foundation of skills and spirit of the game.”
Bigelow was proud of the team and how they responded. “ Even though we ended our season with a loss, our men had their heads held high knowing that we’re still not finished with more seasons to come with the young squad we have,” said Bigelow. “It was one of the best UMF squads this program has ever had and I know we’re only going to get better.”
Nadeau could not think of a better way to end his last fall season at UMF. “I have been very lucky to be a part of this season,” Nadeau said. “The development of skills and commitment to the game has been astonishing this year and I am looking forward to the spring season.”
The turnout for rugby this year has been promising for the future as well. McDonald estimates that there were around 26 to 30 members on the team this season. Nadeau believes that there is definitely more room for members to join, and urges students to consider joining.
“Although we had a great turnout of players this year, anyone who has even the slightest interest in learning the sport is encouraged to come down to a practice at Prescott Field and check it out.”