Kent State men’s rugby team (0-2) lost a heartbreaker after surging back from an early 14-0 deficit only to lose in the final moments to the Miami University Redhawks (1-0).
After starting off slow for a second-consecutive week, the Flashes started playing proper fundamental rugby and it all sort of “clicked” according to team president Keegan Gillilian. Unfortunately for Kent State, they lost 31-27 on a last-second try by the Redhawks.
“The guys took a deep breath, relaxed, and did what we’ve been practicing,” Gillilian said. “The game plan that we’ve really tried to implement, and have had struggles with, it literally just clicked today.”
The team started off the day struggling with its defensive alignment, but once the momentum shifted, it seemed that all those hard practices were finally paying off and it almost resulted in a win over a renowned rugby program.
“They challenged Kent State because one of our weaknesses is our defensive organization,” Gillilian said about being unable to get wide to stop outside runs. “Once we learned and picked up those different situational events and adjusted, the game was turning towards our favor.”
Head coach Tim Brofman attributes the execution he witnessed out of his team this week to a much better week of practice and the fact that guys are getting more comfortable playing in the system.
“Last week we weren’t ready,” Brofman said. “We came out a little flat-footed and we weren’t ready to play a team of the caliber that Western Michigan is.”
“We had some new guys who came out and picked it up quickly, and we were able to put out close to the 15 guys we wanted to.”
Brofman also said that anybody in the rugby world will tell you that Miami is one of the powerhouses in the MAC – and recently ranked among the top 25 teams in college rugby according to Brofman – so playing them the way Kent did is something that shouldn’t go unnoticed.
“We came out here and we came right back at them,” Brofman said. “We scored a couple, we played real fundamental ball, we [were more physical] than them, we ran them over, we tackled them, we would not let them beat us on the physical side of it.”
A much better showing for sure from men’s team in their second game as a D1-AA rugby team – and a club sport for that matter – so there is much good to build off of in the coming weeks.
Next week is a bye week for the Flashes as they get ready for another road contest against Bowling Green State University, the other powerhouse Brofman spoke about. That game is set for Saturday, Oct. 3, 2015.
Kyle Samec is a sports beat reporter for The Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].