Rugby Finishes Regular-Season Slate
Matt Gad – Sports Writer
Last Sunday, the SCSU Black Attack, the men’s rugby club on campus, hosted a sevens tournament at Jess Dow Field.
Seven schools participated in the event with the Black Attack: Mitchell College, the University of Hartford, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Western Connecticut State, Endicott and William Paterson University, with Endicott coming out on top.
“To my knowledge, this is the first time that Southern has hosted a sevens style tournament and it ran very smoothly and was often ahead of schedule,” Ben Croll said.
This was the team’s first game since they played in the Battle of the Bay Tournament April 8. The spring season started March 31 when the Black Attack appeared in the Connecticut Collegiate Sevens Cup, hosted at Central Connecticut State University. That tournament included the University of Hartford, New Haven, Quinnipiac, the University of Connecticut, Duke, Western Connecticut State and the United States Coast Guard Academy.
“When it comes to friendly tournaments we try not to be either too proud of or too upset with the result; we play these games to develop our players,” Croll said. “While winning is always nice, it is more important that we get experience playing rugby at friendlies.”
This is the first year that the team is competing exclusively at Jess Dow Field, the home for various NCAA Division II contests on campus already. Previously, they played their home matches adjacent to The Ballpark, however, the team is currently unable to compete there because it used to be a landfill and “glass is starting to make its way to the surface.”
“The old field was not very nice to play on but it was our field and we could use it pretty much whenever we needed so it’ll hold a special place in my heart,” Noah Fleischer-Cerino said.
The B-team, the Tropics, took on Eastern Connecticut State last week. They previously matched up against the Fairfield Yankees Rugby Football Club, in a joint effort with the New Haven Old Black Rugby Football Club, who compete in the Empire Rugby Union. They were established in 1986 and play at New Haven’s Boulevard Field, a multi-purpose facility located on Ella T. Grasso Boulevard.
This week, the Black Attack will play in their Rugby Northeast league tournament. If they win that they will move on to nationals, otherwise their spring 2018 rugby sevens campaign will draw to a close. Their league includes Norwich, Middlebury, Bentley, Roger Williams, Stonehill, the University of Massachusetts Lowell, Providence, Bryant and Saint Michael’s.
“We’re just looking to compete at a high level and bring home another RNE championship trophy,” Fleischer-Cerino said.
Last year they won the tournament and finished third in the USA Rugby National Division II College Sevens Tournament. In the fall, the team will return to 15s play, where they finished second in the conference in 2017.
“The main focus for this team will always be getting to nationals and we will always be capable of that,” Croll, who’s also the club’s vice president, said. “People thought we weren’t going to last year and look at how that turned out.”
Photo Credit: Palmer Piana