For the first time since the end of their historic undefeated regular season last fall, the New Paltz Men’s Rugby Football Club (NPRFC) was back on the field. On Sunday, April 2, the Hawks competed in the Tri-State Rugby Conference 7’s Men’s Championship at Vassar College.
The Hawks started off strong, winning their first game against rival SUNY Oneonta by a score of 17-10. However, the Hawks dropped their next two games, falling to SUNY Maritime 14-10 and Seton Hall University by a score of 21-5.
7’s rugby differentiates itself from the traditional 15’s rugby by only allowing teams to field a squad with seven players. This places an emphasis on a quicker game rather than the physically dominated 15’s games. This posed a challenge for the Hawks, who had to adjust to a smaller lineup while also playing without two major contributors: Third-year scrum-half Peter Randazzo and fourth-year inside center Kevin Menyhart.
Fourth-year fullback Darrell Maxwell, who played pivot over the weekend, said that, despite the losses, it felt good to be out on the field, especially after the long winter. Maxwell said a lack of organization, including a plan to swap in substitutions more effectively, contributed to the two losses. However, he said that he was proud of his team, especially the players who will be here for the upcoming fall season.
“Our returning players are some of the toughest and most experienced in the division and there’s good team chemistry even among our newest rookies,” Maxwell said. “In other words, the rookies have some great teachers and we’ll be ready to defend our trophy this fall.”
One of those rookies, second-year wing Yakhya Toure, said that the team could have played better, but had limitations on practicing due to the recent snow storms. After weeks of indoor practices, the team finally got to participate in real hitting drills and model game-time intensity. Toure said that the additional practicing will benefit the team in the long-run.
“We need to practice a lot more on our passing and improve the chemistry in the team,” Toure said. “I was kind of nervous at the beginning of the game because we usually don’t hit hard at practice and getting tackled for the first time in a while wasn’t very fun, but I got used to it after few minutes.”
The next competition for NPRFC will be a 15’s game in Oneonta against SUNY Oneonta and Hartwick College on Sunday, April 23.