In the historic Notre Dame Football Stadium, the Notre Dame Men’s Rugby team hosted a 7s exhibition match against the Men’s Rugby Club of Aspen, a group of US 7s olympic team hopefuls. One of them was James Aldridge, a recent Notre Dame Alumnus and former running back for the Irish.
After his stellar career for the Irish, Aldridge changed directions and decided to pursue rugby, training with the Irish for a bit, before moving to New Zealand to train full time.
Apart from Aldridge, who played many games in that stadium, it was the first experience for all of the other ruggers, in front of 32,000 cheering fans. And boy were they cheering. Rugby is a sport that contains all the excitement and impact of football, with the non-stop action of hockey. The fans were instantly delighted by the fast pace and hard hits.
The roars began to build up about midway through the period when winger Dom Carsaro tried to win the corner, but was pushed out 10 yards away from the end zone. The first and only score came with about a minute left in the 7 minute Exhibition, when first, senior Dan Scheper made a crucial interception and passed to sophomore Byron Henry on a cut back. Henry split 2 defenders and found senior David Harrington who offloaded in contact to senior Chris “Sparky” Pesigan who sprinted 60 yards for the Irish try. “It was the best experience of my life” stated Sparky, a sentiment echoed by many of the Irish.
The 7s portion of the season is now in high gear with fitness baseline tests this week and skill sessions with 7s Coach David Fee. The Irish will make their next 7s appearance in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in the 7s Collegiate Rugby Championships June 2nd, and 3rd. It will be the Irish’s third consecutive year to be featured in the tournament and they will look to continue their success from last year as they made it to the Challenger Cup Final.