In only their fourth regular season, the Rigby Royals rugby team won their first ever Division 2 State Championship against Meridian May 19, in what Captain Robert Larsen called a “roller coaster” of a game.
“It was just a roller coaster of a game and emotions,” he said.
Larsen said the team got off to a pretty slow start, a lot of which had to do with the team having to travel to Boise for the match. However the two teams were tied at the end of the first half.
“We were playing physical enough to stay in it,” he said.
In the second half, Larsen said the team woke up and turned the match around to force overtime.
“With 30 second left in the game, we were able to go down and score as time expired,” he said. “In the second half we really showed what we were made of.”
At the conclusion of the first overtime, the teams were once again tied, forcing a second overtime. The match would conclude at the end of the second overtime with the Royals on top with a score of 35-32, capping off an undefeated season.
“We were mentally and physically able to stay in it,” Larsen said.
The program has experienced a lot of success in its first four seasons, appearing in the playoffs three times.
In its inaugural season, Larsen said the team finished fourth in state; Larsen called the next year a developing season in which the team had a rough year due to a lot of seniors graduating and upcoming new players; and during the third season, the team nearly made it to the championship, coming up short in the semi-finals.
“Last year we had another great season,” he said. “But we didn’t have a lot of guys on the team.”
Larsen contributed a lot of the success this season to a larger team and senior leadership.
“This season went really well, we had a lot of senior experience that helped the new guys,” he said. “Knowledge helped us compete at the highest level.”
Next year the team will lose quite a few seniors, including Larsen, however he expects another great year from the team.
“We’re losing a lot of experience this year, but the kids learned a lot,” he said. “I think they’ll have another successful season next year.”
Rigby is one of 10 teams in Division 2, the others include: Mano, Meridian, Copperhead, Bingham United, Nampa, Emmett, Magic Valley, Mountain Home and Portneuf.
This year the Royals went 5-0 in state games, defeating Portneuf twice, Magic Valley, Bingham United and Mano, but losing an out of state game against Olympus in Salt Lake City.
In the playoffs, the Royals bypassed the quarterfinals after their opponent forfeited, and defeated Blackfoot in the semi-finals to push them into the championship.