A thrilling 8-7 loss to rival SUNY Plattsburgh ended the Oswego State men’s club rugby team’s season last week. With the Lakers leading 7-3 in the second half, Plattsburgh capitalized on a costly penalty that ultimately lost them the game.
“It was their knowledge of the game on top of us being out of position that led to the late score,” junior captain Rob Ruhland said. “We had our opportunities but unfortunately we didn’t capitalize.”
Even though the season did not end the way the team would have liked, the Lakers greatly exceeded all expectations. They finished the season at a 5-2 mark with significant improvement after every game.
Oswego State notched a home win against Hamilton College, and four road victories against Union College, Siena College, Lemoyne College and RIT.
“We had a great season,” Ruhland said. “We can play with anyone in the whole state.”
The team is young, as it will return 12 of its 15 starters from last season, including Ruhland.
“It was a good thing and a bad thing,” he said. “We were really rocky to start but just having game experience not only helped us this year but next year as well.”
Rugby can cause many injuries, so communication is key.
“The way the ball moves is so precise that if one person is out of place it can throw the whole dynamic of the play off,” Ruhland said. “My job out there is to talk, tell people where they are supposed to be or if there is a ‘man on.’ I am the only one who talks so when people hear my voice they know what to do.
A highlight of the season was when the Lakers traveled to Albany for a weekend and won all four games.
“Going into the road trip we were just looking to gain experience but once we won a game we just took momentum and rolled on from there,” Ruhland said.
There is no league play in the spring but with Oswego State’s annual Grease Weasel Tournament in the spring, the 12 returning players will gain great experience.
“Our expectations have to be high next year,” Ruhland said. “We are hands down the best team in the state, we work hard every practice and it would be a disappointment if we didn’t win states.”