With the close of the 2010 season, the Missouri Tigers will be graduating only six of its players. These players are headed to different places, some in town, some not, and many of them expressed interest in pursuing diverse interests, but the one common thread is that none of them is ready to put down rugby yet. Take a break, maybe, but not leave.
Head Coach Eric Wright has technically already graduated, although he was able to serve the remainder of his eligible season in Columbia. He is leaving for he University of North Carolina in Charlotte to pursue a masters in sociology and act as a teaching assistant for the Sociology Department at that university. Asked if he was going to continue playing rugby, he said he planned on joining the rugby super league in Charlotte.
“As long as I’m healthy enough, I’ll play,” said Wright.
Wright’s position as head coach will be filled by J.P. Victor, one of the more experienced players on the team, and a back by trade.
“J.P. taught me how to play rugby,” said Wright.
Cameron Wies, the team’s starting strong side flanker, is also graduating. He said he plans on going to Denver, Co. to look for a job.
“I’m trying to land a job as a ski instructor in the summit area,” said Wies.
Wies has one year of eligibility left to him, and says after a year of ski instructing, he plans to go back to college for his MBA and play rugby at whatever university he attends. Wies’ spot will be filled by either Ted Dunn or Jordan Lehmier, both of which have experience playing in games for the Tigers.
Mike McMillon will still be at the University of Missouri for another semester, but graduates in December. He is out of eligibility, however. Instead, Micmillon intends to take on more of a coaching role. He will be the new head coach for the Missouri Women’s Rugby Team. He is also attempting to start a men’s rugby club in Columbia called the Columbia Homewreckers.
McMillon served a dual purpose as the team’s kicker and wing or fullback. Mark Menne is the man likely to take over kicking duties, though he will share kicks with Ryan McDonald. Both players have played in many games for the tigers and taken their fair share of kicks from penalty and for conversion. It is unclear who might take his position as wing or fullback.
Ryan Beck was the team’s president, and although he didn’t start all the time, played at fullback. Like McMillon, the heir apparent to this position is uncertain. Beck, however, is certain about his plans after graduating.
“I’m heading to New york City,” said Beck. “I’m looking into starting a television production.”
Beck says his rugby days are probably over, but he admitted he would probably come back to play in the Old Boys’ Game. This is the game where Old Boys, or Mizzou rugby alumni, return to their alma mater and play the members of the current team.
Brandon Sanborn, one of the starting props for the team, will be staying in Columbia, and not for a reason that might be expected from a big athlete.
“I’m in a band here, and we’re picking up steam,” said Sanborn. “Some of the members are still in school here, so I’m gonna stay.”
Sanborn is also going to be working, when not playing gigs in his band Flippy LaRue, as a personal trainer in Columbia. He also plans to help McMillon as assistant coach for the women’s team and the new club team in Columbia. His personal training skills may come in handy.
Sanborn’s position as prop will more than likely be taken over by Andy Martinovich.
The last senior leaving the team is Phil Hojnowski, captain of the backs.
Hojnowski is not entirely certain where he will be heading after graduation, thought for the time being he plans to stay in Columbia, and will look for a job there, that is, if he doesn’t move first.
“I don’t know, maybe I’ll just sell all of my possessions and move to Fiji,” said Hojnowsky.
He also will be aiding McMillon and Sanborn while he is in Columbia.
“I’ll help with the women’s and men’s teams,” said Hojnowski. “Especially with the 9-10 connection.”
Hojnowski’s position as outside center will be filled by Brett Henderson, a capable player who scored several tries this past season, though would have scored more if he held onto the ball better when crossing the try line. Ryan McDonald will become the new forwards captain.
When asked if he would play rugby after graduating, Hojnowski admitted he would need a while to “heal up”, but expressed interest in playing, possibly for the St. Louis Bombers.
“I’m not sure I can resist the temptation,” said Hojnowski.
Whatever the case for where the seniors end up, two things seem certain. One, they will be coming back to challenge future players to a couple of friendly rugby matches. Two, the holes they leave should be filled without too much problem. This team has a lot of youth ready to step up and take on the responsibility of a starting role, and should perform better next year in their attempt to win the region.
(in order of appearance) Eric Wright, Cameron Wies, Mike McMillon, Ryan Beck, Brandon Sanborn and Phil Hojnowski are the six seniors graduating from the team. These pictures were taken in April during Ruggerfest and the Truman game.