The Ole Miss men’s rugby club hosted its annual alumni game this past Saturday, celebrating 45 years of Ole Miss Rugby Club. The annual event welcomed past members of the team for a weekend in Oxford, culminating in a game against the current players that the alumni won 45-28.
“This weekend, every year really teaches us how much camaraderie, hard work and discipline can lay the foundation of something great for years to come,” current member Wesley Roland said.
The Old Boys Weekend gives alumni an opportunity to come back to Oxford and to see how the campus and rugby team have evolved since their graduations. Most importantly, the weekend aims to foster an environment in which the members are able to get advice and learn from alumni.
“What makes the weekend special is it’s not just the old boys coming out to see us, but we actually get to play with and against them,” said Dave Kosman, Ole Miss Rugby Club president. “We have guys from the ‘70s and ‘80s coming back on the field and playing the game they love.”
Alumni returned from cities across the country for the weekend, outnumbering the current members on the team by about 3 to 1. The Old Boys team featured alumni from as far back as 1980 alongside players who graduated last spring.
“After our weak showing of alumni last year, I was blown away by the amount of alumni that showed up this year. It was amazing to see the support we have as a club by the people that played when they were students here,” team captain Luke Stratton said. “This weekend boosted the current players’ faith in the club and the community that it has.”
The weekend kicked off on Friday afternoon with the Captain’s Run, a relaxed game of two-hand touch rugby and a walkthrough that allowed for alumni and current members to play together on teams and compare the different styles of the game, and was followed by a meet and greet dinner.
“It’s a great feeling seeing the older players pull current players off to the side and explain how they could have made a move differently and mentor them,” Kosman said. “These guys that are 20 years removed from the team are still teaching new tricks and moves we can use on the field.”
On Saturday, the current rugby team squared off against the alumni team for a high-energy game. The game allowed for everyone to enjoy the spring weather and sunshine while breaking out their old rugby gear.
“They came out, and they were really strong,” Kosman said. “We played a combination of old-school rugby, which is more smashmouth and contact-based, and the newer kind of rugby, which involves more swinging the ball outside and quick passes.”
After the match, all of the participants attended the Man of the Match awards and Hall of Fame ceremonies. Former Rebels Bubba Cefalu, Michael Norton, Clay Cavett and Curtis Parker were inducted into the Ole Miss Rugby Hall of Fame, which only votes in new members once every five years.
“Ole Miss Rugby is like a family that does not end with graduation, and the alumni weekend is like a family reunion,” said current player Joseph Carnes. “This is a great time to be proud to be part of Ole Miss Rugby.”