NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – New Mexico Tech Miners rugby went to the small school national championship in 7’s back in May. They finished second and now have their sights on trying to win it all in the fall, playing 15’s. The Miners went into the fall season unranked but seven undefeated weeks later, they find themselves ranked number three as they head into PAC West championship weekend.
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“There’s been a few murmurs of people asking why we’re ranked number three in the country at the moment and then they see footage of us and they’re like okay that makes sense,” said Miners head coach Gearoid Dunbar. “It’s living up to the expectation as well. We’ve kind of put a target on our back now.”
“I mean the results show,” said Miners player Milaan Vanwik. “We’re 7-0. We beat most of the teams with 50 plus points and we pride ourselves in our defense and that comes from our coach. We don’t like to get scored against and we just go out and run these guys over.”
The Miners have made the most of local talent. Twenty-five of the 29 players on the team are from New Mexico. “Tech has so much diversity, said Miners player Elijah Naranjo. “It’s amazing to see how much New Mexico kids are there and to see them come into this sport, a sport that we don’t grow up playing, a sport that I didn’t even know was a sport here in the U.S. until I got to college and it’s amazing to see the work that these kids put in, not only on the rugby field but in school.”
A win at the PAC West would make the Miners the champion of the region and put them into the final four fields of teams vying for the national title. The national tournament starts on Nov. 20.