Rugby national championship trophy

(Photos courtesy of Ricardo Madrigal.)

Fresno State’s club men’s rugby team completed its undefeated season with a 22-17 win over Kansas to earn its first national championship.

The club, created in 2009, claimed American College Rugby’s DI-AA national championship at Choctaw Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

“Being able to lead the team as we make history for Fresno State feels like nothing I’ve felt before,” said team captain C.J. Banuelos as the team prepared for the game. “Just thinking about winning that trophy makes me tear up a little, and I know it gets the rest of the boys fired up.

Unlike NCAA-sponsored varsity scholarship sports at the University, such as football and softball, rugby is a club sport and none of the athletes receive athletic scholarship aid. 

Fresno State beat San Diego 46-7 and Western Washington 52-15 in the West Regional championship to earn a berth in the final against East Regional champion Kansas. Fresno State finished the season 10-0 (including a win by forfeit). The club beat Sacramento State 36-0 to earn its first Pacific West Conference championship.