Men’s rugby approach the ‘seven seasons’
Matt Gad—Sports Writer
The SCSU club rugby team, known on campus at the Black Attack, is getting ready for its spring session of rugby, also known as the “sevens season.”
Instead of playing 15 a-side like with what happens in the fall season, the spring is one with a more athletic style of play, emphasizing speed and other vital skills.
“There are plenty of new guys this year,” coach Bob Chester said. “The majority of the team is freshmen and sophomores with limited playing experience so the more rugby we can play, the better.”
The team will host a 15s game at Jess Dow Field April 6 against Eastern Connecticut State University and they will also compete in three to four Sevens Tournaments this spring, Chester said, including the conference tournament at Babson College at the end of April.
Chester said a tournament will typically feature 8-16 teams in which the teams play a round-robin format, having to win a handful of 14-minute games to advance further on.
“We are looking forward to this upcoming season with a lot of enthusiasm,” junior co-captain Andrew Goggin said. “Sevens requires a lot more athleticism and we have a lot of guys who can win one-on-one matchups. Our goal is to win a lot of the tournaments we are going to play in and anything worse than winning first place in at least a few of these tournaments is certainly not good.”
Ricky Kirk, a former defensive lineman for the Owls who played rugby club in New Haven after he graduated, will join Chester as an assistant coach this spring to help continue to develop the team.
Co-captain senior Palmer Piana also said that Chester has so man connections in the game that he will frequently bring guys in to help out the team.
“The guys that graduated last spring, that was pretty much our sevens squad so there are a lot of new guys now,” Palmer said. “We have never played sevens in this conference before but from what I saw in the fall I am cautiously optimistic.”
Chester said he is excited about the season and that he feels confident in his captains to lead the team.
“There is a good vibe,” he said. “Guys have fun. I have been involved since 1981 and I still love it.”
Chester, a Southern graduate himself, founded the club before moving on to become a founder in the New Haven men’s league in 1986. “The number one reason why we play is because it is fun,” he said.
The team’s opening tournament at Babson was canceled due to inclement weather and while Chester did say some scheduling is still getting worked out, the plan is for competitive play to really start up after Spring Break.
“I am hoping we will have more success this season. Our goal is to win tournaments and make nationals and I would consider anything less than that a failure,” Goggin said.
With the team now in a new conference, New England Wide Collegiate Rugby, travel has become less hectic as games are now not as far away.
“Last fall we had to go up to Vermont but every other game was fairly close; within an hour,” Goggin said. “But my freshman and sophomore years we went all over the place, up to Middlebury, Vermont, Providence; it was tough sometimes.”
The conference features Coast Guard, Hartford, Quinnipiac, Sacred Heart, Vermont, Boston University, Central Connecticut State University, Springfield, Western Connecticut State University, Westfield State and the Worchester Polytechnic Institute.
“It is a closer based conference and we are playing all new teams,” Goggin said. “The new competition hopes you build a better team and I love it.”
Photo Credit: Alexis Delia