by Dan Tracy ’17
For the first time since their 2012 Championship team, theProvidence College Men’s Rugby Team is undefeated. Having posted an impressive 6-0 record in a competitive Rugby Northeast Conference, the Blackpack has but two remaining away matches: University of Massachusetts Lowell and Bentley University. Since Lowell recently lost to Southern Connecticut State University, a team whose only loss came at the hands of the Blackpack, they are out of contention for the Championship. This means Providence’s final game against Bentley is automatically a championship match, the winner of which will advance to the National Tournament to compete among only 15 other teams. Bentley is proving to be a formidable foe, as they too are undefeated and have won many of their matches in convincing fashion.
Coming into the season, the men’s rugby squad looked to rely on their large senior class of eight members to lead the team to victory. On Aug. 30, it seemed that would be the case as the Blackpack won an out-of-conference match against a tough Fairfield University. Yet, as the season has progressed, the starting 15 have sustained multiple injuries. While seniors like Captain Tadas Jalinskasc ’17 and Conor Lane ’17 have remained staples in the lineup this season, staying healthy has proved a challenge for others, leaving holes in the starting roster. It was then the young members, even first time rugby players, who stepped up and contributed to the continuing success of the team. This year, the Blackpack attributes its success not only to a talented starting 15 players, but also to a cohesiveness that permeates throughout the entire team, from seniors down to freshmen.
This year’s team is certainly not the most experienced, but their work ethic is undeniable. Led by a creative and competent coaching staff in Coaches Cox, Dekoeyer, and Hoder, the team has upped weekly practice times and overall intensity. Priding themselves on sound fundamentals, the Pack goes over weekly film to identify mistakes and make adjustments in time for the challenges ahead. Captain Cameron Hughes ’17, had this to say of the team: “The work rate in practice has been fantastic and it shows through our superior fitness and skills on the field.” Fitness and skills certainly mattered in the Blackpack’s recent victory over state-rival Roger Williams, edging the Hawks 31-29 and avenging a loss from last year. This weekend will see one of the pair of senior flankers, Conor Adler ’17 and Dan Tracy ’17, return from injury, as fellow teammate Matt Raffoul ’17 seeks to continue his dominance at the fly-half position. Come support the boys in their final two games as they chase their first championship in four years! Go Blackpack!