Rugby is the ultimate team sport. Team chemistry is crucial in order to be successful. The Oswego State Wizards are aware of that, and have been working on that aspect all season.
“In order for it to work on the field, it has to work off the field,” said junior captain Tyrell Moore, who has been playing since his freshman year. “On the field, the chemistry has some room for improvement. Some of us have played together for a while, and others not so much. It’s going to take some time, but there are glimpses that show how good we can be.”
“There’s a lot more talking and communicating on the field compared to last year,” senior captain Rob Ruhland said. The Oswego State men’s rugby team certainly has room for improvement, but it has showed tremendous potential along with great chemistry.
As the team gears up for its rivalry game against SUNY Plattsburgh on Sunday, the Wizards are fully of aware the implications. A win will guarantee a playoff spot, a feat the team failed to accomplish last year.
An Oswego State win, coupled with a Hamilton loss, would push Oswego State into second place. Its seed isn’t something that the team worries about.
“Honestly, it doesn’t matter what seed we are,” Moore said. “We are confident in our team and the way we play and we believe we can beat anyone we go up against.”
Oswego State lost to Plattsburgh by one point in the last game of the season a year ago, eliminating them from playoff contention. Despite the heartbreaking loss, the team has had quite a bit of success against Plattsburgh in the past.
“Plattsburgh is definitely our biggest rival,” Ruhland said. “Since I’ve been here we’ve played 10 games, and we’ve won eight. Our goal is to score 25 points. We believe that if we can score 25, we’ll take care of business.”
The team has a lot of confidence and faith, traits that they believe will lead to success in the playoffs. Right now, the Oswego State Wizards own a 2-2 record, good for third place in the East Division. The Wizards opened their season with a loss to Hamilton College by a score of 19-8 before dropping a heart-breaking game to Colgate University, 22-20.
After their two-game slide, they turned things around with a win against Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute 27-10. This past weekend, the Wizards clobbered Le Moyne College by a score of 44-20.
“We put up 44 points and personally I thought, along with the coaches, that we could of put up 70,” Ruhland said.
Many others on the team shared the same mentality.
“We didn’t play to our full potential, but we played a great game,” Moore said. “We went in there knowing what we had to do and we went out there and did it.”
The Wizards have implemented a new style of play this season. They play a fast paced, open,and balanced game.
“Not too many teams at the Division II level have seen this style of play before,” Ruhland said. “It’s more of an open style; nobody else really does this in our league.”
The Wizards are hoping that their new style of play will catch their opponents off-guard. This fast paced style of play is extremely hard to execute. The players need to have great endurance and stamina, and also be faster and stronger than their opponents. As the season has gone along, the team believes that they have gotten closer to becoming a dominant force, a team to be reckoned with.
Their improvements have not come easy. The Wizards endure a rigorous practice schedule. They practice five days a week, Monday through Friday. Tuesdays and Wednesdays represent conditioning days in which the squad does a lot of running and other cardiovascular related drills to gain more stamina.
The practices are led by captains Julian Torriente and Connor Murphy, in addition to Ruhland and Moore. Ruhland and Torriente lead practice for the forwards, while Murphy and Moore lead for the wings and backs. Their practices feature individual drills such as tackling and forming rucks as well as team oriented drills such as scrimmages.
The Wizards receive tutelage from their head coach, Jim Clarke, an Oswego State rugby alumni, who has a lot of experience to offer.
“He’s been coaching us for three years now, but he’s been playing since the ‘70s,” Ruhland said. “He tells us what we need to work on at practice and he helps us come up with a game plan for our games.”
After the season ends, the Wizards will start preparing for their spring season and are looking for new recruits.
“We’ll put flyers around campus, in the dorms and the other buildings,” Ruhland said.
The team is always looking for new recruits.
“It’s a lot of fun, but come ready to work because there are no breaks, practice Monday through Friday and games on the weekend,” Moore said. “You have to be fully focused on playing.”