Men’s club rugby falls in championship finals against Lindenwood

UCLA men's club rugby fell to Lindenwood University in the 2018 Penn Mutual Collegiate Rugby Championship final. The loss marked the second time the Bruins lost in the final, with the other being their last appearance against California in 2016. (Habeba Mostafa/Daily Bruin)

The Bruins fell one match short of clinching their first collegiate rugby championship after a testing path to the final.

UCLA men’s club rugby dropped the 2018 Penn Mutual Collegiate Rugby Championship Cup final to Lindenwood University by a score of 24-7 on Sunday.

Lindenwood opened the scoring with a try from second row Chris Schoeman. Bruin freshman center Ben Broselle tied the score 7-7 with a try on the outside left. A missed lineout from UCLA 10 meters from its own end line gave the ball to Lindenwood, who converted a try to make the score 14-7 at the half.

The Lions scored twice in the second half, including a try from USA Rugby Eagle Deion Mikesell. The Lindenwood team featured two capped USA Rugby team members.

Coach Scott Stewart said the experience of the final will improve the growing young core.

“The final is a game we feel we could’ve won,” Stewart said. “Sometimes it’s just not your time. We’re a very young team as there are six freshmen. To get that far and perform like that was pretty impressive.”

The Lions completed the double win by capturing their first Pete Dawkins Trophy, as they won 2018 College 7s National Championships earlier this year.

UCLA swept its opponents in Pool E beginning with a 24-14 win over Virginia Tech early Saturday morning. It defeated Arkansas State 17-12 to clinch the top position in the group.

UCLA secured the No. 3 seed with a 41-0 win over the University of Delaware, and Broselle logged a hat trick of tries.

Broselle led the Bruins offensively throughout the tournament, with seven tries on the final day, and was named the inaugural Mark Dombroski Most Valuable Player for the tournament. Stewart said opposing teams were forced to change their game plan around him.

“(Broselle) took a ton of pressure off the rest of the team with his speed and his ability to score from long range. He was such a threat that it forced teams to almost double-team him, which opened up space for the other people around him.”

UCLA defeated two-time CRC champions No. 6-seeded Dartmouth in the quarterfinal round, scoring four tries in the second half to force in overtime, before beating No. 2-seeded Arizona 26-10 in the semifinal.

Stewart said he is expecting the young team to improve with postseason experience.

“The amount of work we put in before this showed how well we were able to play,” Stewart said. “It doesn’t always work out our way but we’re excited to work with these guys as they get a year older.”

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