posted on: Thursday September 30, 2010
John Butler ’11/Sports Editor
Two weeks, two wins. And just like that, after a year off, the Men’s Rugby Team has earned a 2-0 record and a total of 67 points. With the offense firing on all cylinders, the focus for Head Coach Mike Cox is defense.
“The joke that I’m hearing now is that they don’t want to give up a try all season,” said Coach Cox. “If we have seven kickoffs all season, they’ll be happy.”
At the rate the Black Pack is going, seven kickoffs—that is, one per game—might just be a feasible reality. Providence dismantled Roger Williams on Saturday, Sept. 25, in its first away game of the season. The Black Pack topped the Hawks 31-0 in Bristol, R.I.
The seniors carried the team, as Dan Sweeney ’11, Adam Mauro ’11, Craig McDonald ’11, Evan Hill ’11, and Will Mahoney ’11 all scored tries. Hill’s score came on a hard-fought play in which he escaped the hold of four Roger Williams players. McDonald took care of three extra kicks for the Black Pack.
“The senior leadership is just great,” said Coach Cox.
And indeed, for a team that has a freshman class whose talent has been mightily impressive so far, solid leadership at the top will be vital for the success of the team in the future.
“I think it’s a wonderful thing,” said Coach Cox. “I have never had this many good rugby players come in as freshman…I’m most proud of the fact that we’re 60 deep, and I think the school is a little overwhelmed with the number of players we have. But that is a good problem to have.”
The most immediate goal, however, is to continue playing well so that the Black Pack will be invited to return to Division II from Division III, where they are currently playing.
The winner of Division III annually receives an automatic bid to play in Division II. In recent years, the invitation has been extended to the Division III runner-up as well, but there has been some reluctance on the part of Division III teams with regard to making the jump to Division II. Schools of this tier very often have full-time rugby coaches on campus and more resources at the disposal of the rugby program. For Providence, there is no reluctance whatsoever.
“Our goal is to get back to Division II as soon as possible,” said Coach Cox.
With each passing week, it seems that the goal is becoming more realizable. The offense is operating effectively. It remains, then, for the defense to continue its good work.
“I came in as a defensive-minded coach,” said Coach Cox. “We have to make every effort not to let [the other team] score. I’ll be satisfied if we win every game 3-0.”
On the injury front, nothing other than some minor scrapes and bruises grew out of the Roger Williams game. Nevertheless, the injuries sustained in the Black Pack’s first game against UMass Dartmouth have been devastating. A torn ACL has ended one player’s season, and another suffered a separated shoulder. The good news is that the shoulder injury will not require surgery. The Black Pack returns to action on Saturday, Oct. 2 at 1:00 p.m., at home against Massachusetts Maritime Academy. This will mark Providence’s second and last home game of the season. The teams will play on Hendricken Field.