Rugby Captain Joe Marchant ’22 Named Finalist for Rudy Scholz Award

Hannah Wohlenberg MFA ’22

Rugby captain and fourth year Psychology student Joe Marchant has been nominated for the 2021-2022 Rudy Scholz Award. Given to the top player of each division in the country, Marchant is one of four male players to be named as a finalist this year.

Marchant has played rugby since seventh grade, and once he started, he was hooked. When it came time to make a college decision, Marchant found Saint Mary’s to be a pretty easy choice. “Rugby was actually the primary reason I started looking at Saint Mary’s. I visited a couple of times and was in attendance for the national championship win in 2017, as well as for the home victory against Cal Berkeley in 2018. Those couple of matches made a very convincing argument,” he said. 

Despite his great individual success, Marchant is quick to attribute his achievements to the people he is surrounded by every day at practice. “The SMC rugby legacy isn’t the fancy passing and big hits that you see in the stadium come Saturday, but the grueling hours we spend in the hills and down on Pat Vincent. Saint Mary’s rugby demands sacrifice, and our players are asked to give a whole lot to the team. Somehow though, the program gives far more than it takes,” he said. 

The legacy of rugby at Saint Mary’s is one that’s maintained by hard work and sacrifice, and Marchant’s mention of teammates while being individually nominated for this award emphasizes the “It takes a village” outlook this team has. “I am a product of the program, of four years spent in the hills and sitting in classrooms listening to [the coach] analyze game film and explain exactly how we aren’t good enough yet. Behind my name are those of the hundred of people that deserve to be recognized just as much as I do. Really though, I want people to understand that I am not particularly special, but that the program that Tim [O’Brien] has built here at the College most definitely is,” he said. 

Speaking of legacy, Saint Mary’s has already had two players take home the award since it began in the U.S. in 2016––both that inaugural year and in 2020. The 2020 winner, Payton Telea, is someone Marchant considers himself lucky to have had as a mentor during his time on the team. 

The team is currently in the midst of their championship season, ranked  No. 2 in their division. Over spring break, they narrowly beat No. 3 BYU in the West quarterfinals, moving them to the next round against No. 1 Cal on Saturday, April 23. This head-to-head matchup will determine who from the West is going to Houston, Texas, for the national championship game. 

“This season so far has been a bit of an uphill battle,” Marchant mentioned, but with the momentum they’ve gained since the fall, all eyes are on Houston. “It's pretty obvious that there is only one goal shared by every single person involved in the program: To win a National Championship. As of yet, I have not achieved that goal in my time at Saint Mary’s, but I think we’ve got a real good chance to do it a few weeks from now,” Marchant said. 

There’s a lot to look forward to for Marchant and his team in the coming weeks. The crowning of the Rudy Scholz Award is set for a few weeks away. But no matter the result of the season nor Marchant’s nomination of the award, this team is in it together. “I just show up and give what I can to the team, no different than any of the guys that might never play in a first side game.” Marchant said. “We’ve played in some pretty high profile matches since I’ve been here, Navy in 2020, Cal in 2021, Life University in the fall, but those wins belong to the team in its entirety, to every player in the program from first to last.” It seems the legacy is in good hands.