Rugby Haunted By Sluggish Start

    The UCSD men’s rugby team was unable to overcome a slow start to the game against UC Irvine, eventually falling 27-22 in the back-and-forth battle on Nov. 1. (John Hanacek/Guardian)

    CLUB SPORTS — The bloody preseason matchup between the UCSD and UC Irvine’s men’s rugby teams could best be summed up as a seesaw. UCSD carried a convincing lead for a solid chunk of the game, which took place Saturday at Warren Field, but the Tritons’ flat start ended up benefiting UC Irvine. Each team answered the other squad’s scores with try after try, but with the Anteaters squashing many of UCSD’s scoring opportunities, UC Irvine ended up on top 27-22.

    UCSD came out slow in the first period, while UC Irvine scored a try along with a conversion kick worth two points, making the score 7-0. In the second period, the UCSD offense came back with a try of its own on a drive finished by freshman back Billy Blanchard in the game’s 34th minute. UC Irvine then followed with another try, but UCSD came storming back with a few scores.

    Most of UCSD’s tries came late in the game, in a string of three, with forward Steve Schmidt leading the way in the 70th minute, senior back Jake Hoffman in the 78th and freshman back Quintin Dolci in the 80th. Senior Will Cowell added a few solid conversion kicks in a game where they were hard to come by.

    The field looked like a battleground, as UCSD players were injured one after another. Even though UCSD was able to tough it out and keep the game competitive, the Tritons came out on the losing end.

    For head coach Brian Kennody, preseason is a matter of the Tritons getting their feet wet and determining the players’ positions. Kennody said he thought both sides played a bit sloppy, which revealed rust and lack of experience.

    “A lot of new guys played and a lot were at new positions,” Kennody said. “In the fall, we have to teach and welcome new players, and the most important thing is getting these guys experience.”

    Kennody was optimistic about the upcoming season and said he is looking forward to adding to the playbook once the new players perfect the basics. Still, the game provided the Tritons with a lot of things to work on as the season progresses.

    “We came out a little slow, but in the end we picked it up and put in a lot of tries,” junior captain Matt Ravalin said. “We need more energy in the forward pack and were a little flat today. Working patterns and fluidity, and working power — power is key.”

    There are some big tournaments and matchups coming up for the team, highlighted by the Long Beach Tournament and the City Tournament, which includes matches against the University of San Diego and San Diego State University.

    According to Schmidt, aside from the UC Irvine match, UCSD’s preseason record has been solid thus far. The Tritons have already defeated UC Riverside 67-7, Division-I University of San Diego, and stood victorious at the annual UCSD rugby alumni game, in which the alumni usually come out on top.

    Schmidt also said preseason is a learning process for the young guys — it’s a time for players become familiar with certain positions.

    “Our main focus right now is getting players comfortable in their positions,” Schmidt said. “Rugby is a finesse game and thinking game, unlike football where you pop a guy and the play is done.”

    Since the majority of college rugby players grew up unfamiliar to the sport as there are not many high school teams in America, the learning curve for new players is a little longer than in other sports. The team has many rookies who need to learn the basics during Fall Quarter so that, come crunch time in January, everyone is ready to go and comfortable with their positions.

    “It’s a learning process, so we have to keep coming out and we should do well,” senior back Sung Shin said. “We are still a young team, and we need to come out with more intensity. It’s going to take some time, but we’re going to get on it.”

    With increasing signs of strength and potential, the team is being patient with its newcomers. Even though competition has already started, the Tritons are still looking to add new players.

    The next UCSD rugby match will take place at the all-day Kings of the City Tournament, held on Nov. 15 at UCSD.

    Donate to The UCSD Guardian
    $2320
    $500
    Contributed
    Our Goal

    Your donation will support the student journalists at University of California, San Diego. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment, keep printing our papers, and cover our annual website hosting costs.

    More to Discover
    Donate to The UCSD Guardian
    $2320
    $500
    Contributed
    Our Goal