Men’s rugby works for nationals bid

The men’s rugby team faces a mountainous challenge if they
want to get a bid to nationals, but the squad is primed and ready to
tackle this arduous undertaking.
To get a bid, the team must win the

last three games of the season
against University of New Hampshire (UNH), United States Coast
Guard Academy (USCGA), and University of Vermont (UVM),
in that order. “Injuries have forced changes but the team has stuck
together and continued to improve,” said Michael Dowling, 21, a
junior criminal justice major from North Caldwell, N.J., who plays
both flanker and center.
The Cadets are ranked third in the New England Collegiate Rugby
Conference (NECRC) and winning the next three games could
bump them to second, making the chances better for a national bid.
The team has already defeated UNH 68-5 and Coast Guard 24-15
earlier this season. But now they look to avenge a heartbreaking
29-22 loss to UVM.
“We are a lot different team than we were the first time we
played UVM,” said Paul Matthews, 23, a senior political science
major from Camden, N.J., who lines up at prop. To be successful the
rest of the season, the team has been working on, “little things and
fine-tuning,” said Matthews.
The team has good reason for concern about all of its upcoming
games. New Hampshire will be looking to rebound after being completely
embarrassed, and the Coast Guard game was much closer
that the final score indicated. However, UVM is the in-state rival
for the Cadets and the only opponent that beat Norwich in the previous
matchup this season.
“We need to be well-conditioned, well-drilled, and aggressive,
and ‘get after it’,” said flanker Rhys Humphrey, 19, a freshmen psychology
major from Warwick, RI. After an impressive 40-10 win
over Boston University over mid-semester break the team is gaining
momentum.
However, even if the team runs the table, a bid for nationals is not
guaranteed. The team made it to the sweet 16 two seasons ago, but
players that were on that team say this is a different game and they
will have to give it everything to make it.
“This is the best team I have been a part of,” said Tim Hunter, 21,
a senior biology major from Stratham, Mass. Hunter said that “team
chemistry” and “having players back from injury” makes the team
much more competitive than they were at the start of the season.
Asked if this team can accomplish winning the rest of their games
and making the national tournament, without hesitation Hunter said,
“absolutely.”

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