Men’s Rugby has High Hopes after Defeating Holy Cross
Philip Zoppi – Sports Writer
The rugby team at Southern has set high expectations for 2016 and the team is confident they can meet them.
Rugby may not get as much attention as some of the other sports on Southern’s campus, but that does not mean they do not expect less success. Mike Sullivan, one of the team captains, thinks the team is really coming together well this year.
“This year our goal is to win nationals,” said Sullivan. “We have the skills, the talent and work effort. The only thing that can stop us is ourselves.”
Last year the rugby team featured a lot of young players and ended up finishing with a 4-4 record. This year, the team has gotten off to a nice start as they defeated Holy Cross in their first game of the year to improve to 1-0. Sullivan was encouraged with the way the team looked in their first game of the season.
“We played a fantastic game in the second half,” said Sullivan. “We played our game, kept them on their heels and just ran over them. The first half we were finding out our groove. It was rough, it was our first time playing with that lineup but we got through it.”
Noah Fleischer, another team captain, felt the team came out strong against Holy Cross as well.
One of the main reasons both Sullivan and Fleischer feel so good about this year’s team is the experience that the team gained as a whole last year. Fleischer believes that experience could put them over the top this year.
“We have our expectations set very high this year,” said Fleischer. “We only graduated three players from last year so a large amount of our team has in game experience.”
The rugby team will play six more times this season, four of those being home games. Much like football, rugby is a very physical sport so the team will normally only play one game a week.
Seimou Smith, a former football turned rugby player for Southern, knows all about the toll that both of these sports can have on one’s body.
Smith said one of the big keys to staying healthy and in good shape during the year is having a good diet of eating three meals every day. On top of that, Smith believes it is important to get to the gym everyday and surround your joints and bones with healthy muscles.
Unlike football, rugby does not have pads. Rugby players are going full speed and full contact, so avoiding injury throughout the season is tough.
Pain tolerance is something that rugby players need in order to stay on the field for the majority of the year.
Sullivan understands the grind of a long rugby season and knows how to get himself right for a game. Playing with an injury is something not only Sullivan has done but many other rugby players have as well.
“During the season it’s all about eating right, ice baths, getting rest and seeing a doctor when you have to. I’ve played on a broken ankle twice so it’s really up to the player to see how much their body can take,” said Sullivan.
The rugby team practices on Tuesdays and Thursdays for two hours and encourages any Southern students interested to show up as they are always looking to recruit more players.
The rugby team will face Roger Williams in Rhode Island on Sept. 24, then play their first home game on Oct. 8 against Stonehill College.
Photo Credit: Palmer Piana – Photo Editor