St. Thomas Aquinas rugby team earns national spotlight

12-time reigning state champs keep culture strong
Aquinas Rugby.jpg
Posted at 8:30 PM, Mar 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-29 23:50:39-04

OLATHE, Kan. — Dominance comes in all shapes, sizes and sports.

The St. Thomas Aquinas Saints rugby team looks primed to continue its Sunflower State dominance this spring.

“We don't know what it feels like to lose, and we like that,” junior second row Ryan Yankovich said. “We know what it feels like to win. We chase that feeling."

The club is anchored by former U.S national team head coach Tim Kluempers. Founding the team in 2007, Kluempers’ Saints claim 12 consecutive state titles from 2008-19, including a national championship in 2017.

“I love when they catch the fever,” ‘Coach Klump’ said jokingly during an afternoon training session Monday. “I don't care if you're the best athlete, or the worst athlete, you're just as important as the next guy."

Currently only nine high schools in Kansas field rugby teams, with just four on the Missouri side. Many teams nationwide have been affected by the pandemic, postponing some seasons all together.

Opening the 2020-21 season with an unblemished 8-0, the Saints catapulted to the top of the national rankings. ()

“We all push each other, motivate each other to go out and win it," junior Nicholas Jurczak said. "We just keep pushing because we always want to get better."