Diné leads NMHU rugby team to second place at nationals

By Sunnie Clahchischiligi
Navajo Times

FRUITLAND, N.M., June 19, 2014

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(Courtesy photo)

Rydell “Tom Chee” Curtis (second from the right), Navajo, stands with his teammates after the New Mexico Highlands University Rugby 7s VATOS, placed second at the national championships held June 1 in Chester, Penn.

Amid the hype of performing on the national stage, the New Mexico Highlands University Rugby 7s team VATOS learned that they could play with the best.

The Rugby 7s took second place in the National Small College Rugby Organization National 7s Rugby Championships held June 1 at PPL Park in Chester, Penn.

The team, led by Navajo fly half Rydell “Tom Chee” Curtis, lost to New England College 22-14 after four consecutive wins in the champions that earned them a ticket into the championship game. They placed second out of eight teams that qualified for the national championships.

“We left it all on the field,” Curtis said. “After the game I didn’t feel bad…it was fun and I wished we could play some more.”

The team qualified for the national championship in March after they competed in the qualifying tournament, where they represented the Frontier League. 

It was the first time in school history the team made an appearance at the national championship. It was something NMHU Rugby Club VATOS head coach Joseph Brooks said the team should be proud of.

“They represented the state of New Mexico and New Mexico Highlands University well,” he said.

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