The Oswego State men’s club rugby team is returning to action this weekend in Philadelphia to begin a spring schedule full of tournaments, both in and out of New York.
The Wizards will look to erase the sting of last season’s playoff loss after a successful regular season that saw the team clinch a home-field postseason game against Niagara College.
“Last season we went 5-2 and made it to the playoffs but, unfortunately, we lost in the first round to Niagara [College],” senior outgoing captain Tyrell Moore said. “We lost by two points and it was a devastating loss because we knew we were the better team going in… We knew that we could exploit them, especially outside, but it was just an unfortunate loss. We didn’t have the intensity and physicality that game and that’s why we lost.”
With last season in the rear-view mirror, Moore and the Wizards are excited for what the spring season has to offer, which, among other things includes breaking in new recruits. The team spent the winter looking for potential players and uses the spring season to bring the rookies’ rugby knowledge up to par.
“Basically, we want to be able to tutor the rookies,” Moore said. “We also want to get the [veterans] who are going to be here next semester to play well and to learn different aspects of the game.”
Another important aspect of the spring season is breaking in the new captains, who were voted into leadership by their teammates after the fall season. The spring season offers the captains a chance to work on enhancing the traits that make a good leader, according to Moore.
“We have a group of guys that can lead this team. They’re very vocal and very team-oriented and that’s what you need as a captain,” Moore said. “The most important characteristic of being a captain is to listen before you lead and lead by example so they’re working on that.”
As an outgoing captain and a four-year veteran, Moore said the spring semester is an important time for the team.
“When I first got here, it was a great learning experience,” Moore said of the spring season. “It’s a great way to build team camaraderie because we go to different tournaments, play different teams and see different places.”
While the spring season has a lot to offer, Mother Nature has done her best to keep the Wizards off the field. The team has not been able to practice on its normal pitch due to poor field conditions. However, Moore said that has not slowed down the team.
“We haven’t been able to practice on our fields yet, which I don’t like at all,” Moore said. “But we can teach anywhere. We can teach in the parking lot, anywhere. It’s all about the listening capabilities of some of the younger players. It doesn’t matter where we practice, it’s about how well we’re teaching and listening and that’s the most important aspect.”
In terms of playing games, Oswego State has yet to see any action this spring, as its first scheduled tournament in Clarkson was canceled last weekend because of poor field conditions. The tournament was rescheduled for April 19.
Oswego State will be traveling to Philadelphia for a tournament this weekend, something Moore said the team is looking forward to.
“We’re going to be playing top-notch teams,” Moore said. “We are going to be subbing in some new guys and mixing them in with some vets… I expect them to keep the games close and play physical.”
Moore said he is not worried about the result of the game, as the spring semester is about incorporating the new pieces into a team with championship aspirations.
“We are in the building phase of Oswego State rugby right now,” Moore said. “There are a lot of roles to be filled, but this team that we are building right now is a championship-caliber team.”
Oswego State students and alumni will get a chance to see the Wizards in action on April 26, when the team hosts its 25th annual Greased Weasel Tournament at the Hidden Fields on campus.
“The Greased Weasel is our home tournament and it’s been going on for 25 years now,” Moore said. “The atmosphere is different than any other tournament that I’ve ever been to. You have alumni there and people who love Oswego rugby who come out to support the team.”
While Moore said he is excited for the new era of Oswego State rugby, he said he has mixed feelings about the spring season, which will be his last as a member of the Wizards.
“It’s not a good feeling to know that you’re leaving a team that you’ve been with for four years,” Moore said.