Rugby Improves Season Rank

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Despite beginning their six game season with a record of 1-2, the UVM Rugby Club has grown tremendously since being introduced to the University in 1970.

Although the Rugby Club initially began as a way for students to play pickup games, the club has become increasingly competitive due to a combination of improved coaching and dedicated members. In the 2008 season, the Catamounts earned the No. 1 rank going into nationals.

Currently, the team stands at 60 members, which is largely attributed to a strong recruiting class. Bringing in nearly 25 first-year members provides the club with depth in many positions, as well as ensuring members for future seasons.

Led by junior Matthew Potter and second-year graduate student Kleckner Charles II, the team is poised to bounce back after falling in matches against the University of Rhode Island and Norwich University. Charles is confident in the potential of this years squad.

Charles explained that in past years, the club only brought in members who were friends, but since expanding the recruiting to more students, the team has become more successful.

“Now we have reached out to kids that have played in high-school,” Charles said. “We are a young team, but have a lot of skillful kids.”

The highlight of rugby is that players can be utilized no matter their, height, weight, speed, or skill set. Charles believes that this year’s team has a lot of parody and balance.

The shorter, slower, stronger players are often forwards, the smaller and quicker athletes are usually full backs and in the middle are the taller “6’4” type of guys”, as Charles describes.

The game involves two teams which have 15 players on the field at all times. A length of a game is two 40 minutes halves. The team must work together to advance the ball by running or kicking, however the ball can only be passed from one player to the other using a lateral or backwards pass.

The team attempts to receive as many points as they can by scoring a try which is five points, or kicking the ball through the goalposts for two points.

As well as a strong recruiting class, Charles credited their Irish Head Coach Declan Connolly with providing strategies which put the team in situations to succeed every game.

“Coaching is what is going to take us to the next level,” Charles said. The team also prefers a balance attack which keeps the ball in the hands of the full backs, instead of simply crashing with the forwards.

Since his first year participating with the rugby team, Charles noted that increased interest in the club has brought much needed organization to the squad. As well as adding athletes to the club, public relations, presidents, and treasurers are essential in order to smoothly run a club team.

Increased notoriety has allowed the club to establish a strong fan base. In order to house the large number of fans, the rugby pitch is now accompanied with new, $21,000 bleacher, which was fundraised by the men and women’s rugby teams.

The season only consists of six games because rugby is such a physically demanding sport. The Catamount host three games, and travel around New England to face conference opponents.

The New England Collegiate Rugby Conference is the most competitive division two league in the country. Due to the constant turnover of rugby players, Charles explained that the preseason ranks often do not indicate the best squad because graduating classes and injured players can both affect a team’s performance.

Charles says that the sense of team, and knowing that you have to protect your other players, is the most satisfying aspect of the sport.

On Thursday, Oct. 5, the Catamounts host conference opponent Coast Guard Academy, in their fourth match of the season.