Wheeling, W, Va. (WTRF) – The Cardinal rugby program’s success has grown exponentially in 2022. The team will be preparing for it’s National Collegiate Rugby matchup against Harvard later in the month. It’s impressive 31 wins is not too shabby for a program that wouldn’t even have had enough for a team during the COVID pandemic.

“I think we saw a lot of success just bringing back the first year just bringing back a varsity program with a lot of school support (and) a lot of alumni support. You know, and once we got these guys in from around the world – they’re friends or other players that had come up a year or two after them in high schools saw that they came to Wheeling so they decided to come as well,” Head Coach Mike Geibel said.

A lot of the team’s success this season can be attributed to a whole bunch of young and international talent. Freshman Stan Giani is adapting from South Africa.

“Yeah, it’s different coming from South Africa to America. I mean, everybody wants to be in America one day. It’s a big change but I do feel very welcome. I’ve adapted well. I love it here; it’s awesome,” Giani said.

Chief Chipfumbu is a native of Zimbabwe.

“I can’t say that I expected to play so well as I expected to play well from my teammates because I knew there was a wide range of people from Africa, from France, from Spain, so I knew it was going to be quite challenging at first but I’ve been playing rugby almost all of my life now so I thought if the basics were done right; it definitely would go well,” Chipfumbu said.

Geibel also spoke on the NCR Collegiate Rugby 7’s tournament on the horizon.

“We’re looking forward to playing and competing in a professional stadium. It’s hosted by NOLA gold; the major league rugby team in New Orleans so we get to play in their stadium, on tv, and we really get to show what we can do on a big stage,” Geibel said.