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The University Star

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The University Star

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Tradition of success continues for TXST rugby

Texas+State+masters+student+forward+Joel+Rebollar+runs+downfield+against+the+University+of+North+Texas%2C+Saturday%2C+Nov.+20%2C+2022%2C+at+West+Campus+Fields.

Texas State masters student forward Joel Rebollar runs downfield against the University of North Texas, Saturday, Nov. 20, 2022, at West Campus Fields.

The Texas State Renegade Rugby Club is no stranger to winning games. With their ability to execute, the Renegades strengthen their club’s bonds through their community’s connective nature.
In order to be successful in a sport that demands a certain physicality, a level of dedication is required. Joe Puccio, Renegades president and junior back, said dedication within the team’s highly-skilled roster and staff is something that sets them apart from other rugby programs.
“Our first goal is to always start at the beginning, build up from that, and then show [new players] how we play rugby here at Texas State,” Puccio said. “That’s what I think we do better than every other school is every other school wants to hop into doing the advanced stuff or hop straight in.”
Texas State Rugby has been successful throughout its history which started in 1983. With decades of winning seasons on its belt, it has grown into a club whose culture is one of strong brotherly bonds and winning games. 
After a state championship run this past season, where they lost by just three points, the Renegades have continued to better themselves on and off the field with encouragement from alumni through social events and academic achievement.
Alumni involvement is an element of Texas State Rugby that sets it apart from other Texas State club sports and Texas university rugby teams. Alumni support is showcased via a willingness to show up for the current team. 
“I think that the reason we’re so good, and the reason that we’re where we’re at every single year is because of the alumni,” Puccio said. “It’s not like there’s a couple of guys that are from the alumni that help. It’s every alumni. I haven’t met a single alumni that I’m not grateful for.”
On the field, present members of the club deepen their ties through playing with one another — an activity that demands blood, sweat and tears, Puccio said.
Through the steady encouragement of the alumni, a sense of camaraderie and discipline has developed within the club, leading players to encourage one another both on the field and in the classroom. 
Sophomore forward Mark Pownall said that if a teammate is struggling in school, they will likely have someone to study with to keep them disciplined.
“We make sure we keep in check,” Pownall said. “If we’re ever struggling and anybody’s in the same field or everybody is in the same class, like, you know, don’t be afraid to reach out.”
Sophomore back and vice president Elisha Garcia agrees on the importance of academics and said that the accomplishments he has made on the field play into his performance in school by heartening him when he faces challenges.
“If the guy weighs 300 pounds and I make a tackle on him… it just proves to your inner self that like, you’re not scared to tackle any challenge, regardless if it’s a human or a test or an assignment,” Garcia said.
Due to the club’s overall successful history, winning regular season games is not much to stir about. With Texas Division titles in 2009 and 2011, and a Texas Cup title in 2015, state and national championships are what drive the motive of the club, Puccio said. 
“Our minimum goal is a state championship. That’s our minimum goal every year,” Puccio said. “Texas State’s always been the, one of the top teams in Texas and one of the top teams in the nation, so, our goal [is] always get to state.” 
The hard work that they must put in to fulfill the high standards of their predecessors and themselves has resulted in continuously-growing bonds for members of the club. Pownall agrees that whether it be on the field or in the classroom, Texas State Rugby has provided opportunities to make lasting friendships.
“One of the teammates that I was with, I saw him at the beginning of the semester sitting in one of my classes,” Pownall said. “Didn’t really talk to him before but I knew he was on the team, and now we’re really good friends.”
With a solid support system in the alumni, team values that push their players to be better men and overall brotherly bonds that fill the club, the Texas State Renegades have built what many of them call a long-term “winning culture” that sustains the success of the club.
Puccio said he thinks the continual winningness of the team plays into the alumni’s will to contribute to the club, and that a “vicious circle” of success has formed due to the club’s connectivity. Garcia agrees that this culture is the result of a trend that has been in motion for decades.
“I know historically we’ve been like, a fantastic program,” Garcia said. “I feel like that winning culture has been ingrained in us for 20, 30 years.”

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  • Texas State junior back Joe Pucio gets tackled by two defenders while carrying the ball against the University of North Texas, Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022, at West Campus Fields.

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