Men’s rugby finishes season and prepares for the battles to come

As it gets cold and dark a little earlier each evening, and the rain transitions to frothy snow, one group on campus is still outside late into the night. The Allegheny Men’s Rugby Team had a relatively strong season, that only recently ended with their elimination this past weekend on Saturday, Nov. 11.

During the practices leading up to their final game, the temperatures dipped below 28 degrees and the sunlight left before them, requiring headlights on the cars to illuminate the last half of their practice. Despite this, they all lined up like soldiers on the field, and began sprinting laps.

What followed was a combination of socializing and practice, as the team mixed telling jokes with doing physical drills and demanding scrimmages. High knees were followed by more drills and a few expletives, but the competition was always present during scrimmages.

After practice, the team gathered in a circle and began chanting, all culminating in a rallying cry of “Go Gators,” as they walked off the field.

The team went on to lose their playoff game on Saturday, Nov. 11, after a strong and well fought game against St. Vincent’s, with a final score of 45-27. The players were unhappy with the outcome, but expressed no doubt about the effort they put forth.

Despite being eliminated right after these harrowing practices, the team was in high spirits after the game, and looking forward to an elections meeting later in the week, as they gear up for more work in the spring.

“We had a pretty great season overall. We have some areas we can improve on for next time, but in terms of physical capabilities and communication, we were strong,” said Tahmoor Akram, ’19, who is a forward for the team.

The elections being held are to determine the new leaders of sections for practices and games, as well as a new president and organizer for the whole club. Current seniors and officials will be either stepping down from their previous positions or running for re-election, and rising athletes and new faces will be recommended and voted on to replace them in the team hierarchy.

One of the seniors and an outside center on the team this year, Danny Denlinger, ’18, who had helped coach the practices and warm ups, explained how the team works during these games and practices.

“We all do a little bit of the work among the senior members. Nick Poling is officially President and his position on the field is as a back,” said Denlinger. “He’s responsible for the financial and scheduling aspects of the team, as well as some coaching, and supporting the whole team as a back.”

He went on to lament the season and his final year on men’s rugby at Allegheny.

“This team is great. I’m really gonna miss it, and I’ll have to come back and visit definitely,” said Denlinger.

Given the focus on elections, next semester and new recruits as well as improving on their fall season, current president and organizer of the team, Nick Poling, ’19, has his hands full.

“We had a great season this year especially with such a young team. I’m very happy with our progress and we’ll be working towards bigger things next season,” said Poling.

While their 2017 season may be done, the practice routines and bonds between the players on men’s rugby never take a rest. The team will continue to analyze this past season and work on their areas of needed improvement, hopefully with some new faces and personalities showing up on the roster.

“Our team was 7-2 this season, and we came in third in the league,” said Poling. “That’s something to be proud of for sure. All we can do is keep working.”