New coach for women’s rugby is a ‘fresh start’

Hunter O. LyleSports Editor

Fitted with a thick southern accent, a horseshoe mustache, and a resume full of rugby, the new coach of the women’s rugby club team is ready to start his first season as an Owl.

Dylan Turner, the new head coach of the women’s rugby team, nicknamed the Black Attack, has played and coached rugby for years, dating back to his time at the University of Mississippi.

“I used to play when I was at Ole Miss, and I used to coach there too,” said Turner. “I’ve played a few Sevens tournaments with some semi-pro teams. I’ve also played with some [semi-professional] out of Seattle, and now I’ve been playing for New Haven for the past three years.”

Playing for New Haven’s Old Black Rugby team, a national rugby football club centered in New Haven,which according to the Old Black website was started by graduates of Southern Connecticut State University, is actually how Turner got the position at Southern in the first place.

At the time both Turner and Andrew Marullo, the current coordinator of recreation and fitness at Southern, had something in common: both played on the same team.

“I knew him from playing with him. I know he’s had some coaching experience and playing experience at high levels,” said Marullo, who has been a member of the Old Black team for almost ten years. “It was great opportunity for our women’s team to bring in someone who really has a good grasp of the game. For their development, it’s going to be a great thing.”

Marullo said there were two reasons for getting a new coach for the women’s rugby team, the first being that the previous coach had been looking to step down. The second reason was that the team seemed to be stagnant, as far as success over the season was concerned.

“I think things were kind of going along, and happening [with the previous coach],” said Marullo, “but now they’ll be able to push forward and potentially go up higher divisions, make national championships. I think that’s a path that they can get to with a new coaching staff.”

Marullo said he is enthusiastic and he thinks Turner will be a breath of fresh air for the team.

“I think that [Turner] will bring a new excitement and a new kind of vision for the direction of the team,” said Marullo. “He’ll also be able to bring in some new strategy, new game plan. Pretty much new everything, just a fresh start for the team.”

Besides the coaches, the Black Attack features many new additions to the team this year, like IDS major Syndey Degoursey, a senior, who joined the club recently.

“I have a few friends that play actually. I’ve known people who’ve played for years,” said Degoursey. “One of my friends this year recently pushed me to play, and it’s something I’ve always wanted to do.”

Team captain Kelli Doheny, a senior who has played for four years in a row, said the young additions are dedicated to learning the sport and will definitely help the team throughout the season.

“We got a ton of new people. We usually get a lot of names at the club fair, but this year we had a lot of people show up actually so that was great,” said Doheny. “They’re great. It’s a new sport so it’s hard, but they want to learn.”

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