Men’s rugby drops first game of season
Matt Gad – Sports Writer
The Black Attack, the campus men’s rugby club, began their fall 15-a-side campaign last Saturday night at Jess Dow Field against Quinnipiac University’s New Blue, losing 34-22.
They opened with four tries and a successful conversion to lead 22-0 before they allowed the New Wave to score 34 unanswered off five tries, three conversions and a penalty.
“The first game of the season was our first real test to see not only where we stood as a team but also to see if we could apply the techniques we’ve been practicing,” Beckett McEwen said. “The game itself was personal because everyone on the field was playing their hardest.”
The team has a five game regular-season planned before the conference playoffs.Their next game is Saturday at Sacred Heart at 3 p.m. and their next home contest will be Sept. 30 at 2 p.m. with the University of Hartford.
“The team is definitely different this year. After not graduating anyone for two years we graduated a whole portion,” McEwen said. “It was definitely a change but it opened up spots for younger guys to step up and show that they deserved a chance on the starting roster.”
They have two captains this season, junior Andrew Goggin and senior Palmer Piana. Goggin said it’s “always a challenge” to lose so many athletes in the span of one year.
“The upperclassmen of the team are stepping up and holding one another accountable, making sure we are the best that we can be,” he said.
McEwen also said the seniors are working to create a “well-oiled” team on-and-off the field and that, this year, they are focusing a lot on “bringing the team closer off-the-field.”
“Just getting to know every guy on the team on an individual basis and making a real lasting bond has a huge impact on our field chemistry,” he said.
The team has benefited from a large freshman class on-campus this year, saying that some have come that don’t even have much past experience with the sport.
Said McEwen: “There has always been an interest in rugby because it’s a low-time commitment so it’s a great way to stay on-track with school and also meet new people. The numbers of freshmen we bring in has grown exponentially every year since I’ve been here so it’s definitely an exciting time to have new guys come on.”
Also new this year is that the team is switching from the Rugby Northeast, where the women’s club team is still a part of, to the New England Wide Collegiate Rugby Conference. This season, in addition to the Black Attack, the conference has added Vermont, Sacred Heart and Boston University on the men’s side.
“We’re looking forward to progressing as a team and winning our conference,” Goggin said.
McEwen added that the goal is to “make the season fun for everybody.”
“Rugby is such an awesome sport and our focus is not only to grow it at Southern but also across the states. The more people that come and enjoy it the faster the sport will grow,” he said. “We’ve seen it at Southern for the past four years and I don’t think it’s stopping anytime soon.”
Photo Credit: southernctowls.com