New Paltz Rugby Men to Play For Finals

By Jack O'Brien

After a gritty home contest in the pouring rain, the New Paltz Rugby Football Club, (NPRFC), is only one win away from being Tri-State Rugby Conference champions.

On Sunday, Oct. 30, the Hawks won 43-17 over SUNY Maritime in the conference semifinals. The match served as both NPRFC’s first playoff appearance in over a decade and as a rematch of their season-opener on Sunday, Sept. 11, which they won 27-22.

The first half of play was a low-scoring affair, featuring contentious scrums and hard hits by both defenses. The Hawks held a narrow lead at halftime before steady rain showers came in just as the second half began. From there, the Hawks spread their offense from the center of the field to the sides, extending and cementing their lead. For the season, the Hawks have scored an average of 49 points per game while holding their opponents to 16.2 points per game

Fourth-year flanker and president of NPRFC James Evans complimented his team’s tenacity, especially in the face of some of their toughest competition all season.

“It was certainly a dog fight out there, they had a lot of bigger guys but in the end the more organized squad took the victory,” Evans said. “We were a bit sloppy to begin with, but we kept our composure as the game went on. Ironically, I think our play was smoother and more technically sound in the second half while it was pouring rain. We couldn’t let this undefeated regular season go to waste, especially not in front of our home crowd who has shown us a tremendous amount of support thus far.”   

With the victory, the Hawks will now play Vassar College on Sunday, Nov. 6 at noon at Siena College. The Hawks previously beat Vassar on Sunday, Oct. 16 by a score of 44-32. The location provides an ironic twist, as the Hawks lost to Siena College in the conference playoffs in 1996.

Evans remains confident in his team’s chances at the championship, saying that he and the rest of the team are excited that their opponent will be Vassar, whom they have a storied rivalry with. He said that considering the dominance Vassar has held over NPRFC in the past few years, their matchup will act as an additional motivator for the Hawks going into the winner-take-all game.  

“It’s going to be another good one this Sunday,” Evans said. “I can’t wait to see what our cross-Hudson rivals [Vassar] have in store, but they better be ready for us hard-hitting Hawks.”