Men’s rugby team hopes to bounce back against Miami University

Kyle Samac

After losing to Western Michigan University last Saturday on the road, the men’s rugby team (0-1) heads back out to Oxford, Ohio, to take on the Redhawks of Miami University (0-0.)

The main points for this weekend’s game is to focus on playing safe rugby —which will result in less penalties — and overcoming the loss of one of the team’s best players.

An emphasis for this week’s game versus the Redhawks is fixing the ruck issues experienced last weekend, which resulted in more than just poor play.

“A lot of players were doing it (rucking) extremely unsafely,” team president Keegan Gillilan said. “We had some injuries related to rucks, injuries we cannot afford. It’s basically a big wrestling match over top of the ball.”

This is one of the many ways that possession can be awarded to a team if done successfully. Another common way is a scrum, which requires a lot of strength and technique to do the right way.

One of the key players injured in the game against Western Michigan was senior Ryan Meyer, a flanker, who tore his PCL in one of his knees and will be lost for the season.

“It seems every game he’s played in he’s either scored a try (similar to a touchdown in American football but only five points awarded) or had many try-saving tackles,” Gillilan said.

But even with the loss of Meyer, the team figured out its strength: the backline.

The backline is composed of smaller, speedy guys, while the pack, or forwards, is made up of big, strong guys. The team will have the perfect test this weekend because Miami’s backline is also strong.

“We get to put our strength to the test this weekend,” Gillilian said. “We’ll really get to see what we’re made of up against a team that has proven over the years how good they are.”

Word of mouth from former opponents is that the Redhawks have a veteran player on their team who has played rugby his whole life.

For perspective, most of the players on the Kent team have only been playing for a couple years. The Redhawks have a rich history of rugby success at their school so it’s no surprise they have a native of the game.

The game is set for 1 p.m. this Saturday in Oxford, Ohio.

Kyle Samac is a sports reporter for The Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].