Ram Rugby, VCU’s Men’s Club Rugby Team, are in the midst of their best season in over a decade this fall. The club team, which normally struggles to collect meaningful wins within their Division II conference, currently sits at three wins, one loss, and two draws (3-1-2).
James Madison University
The Rams started the season on the road against JMU on Sept. 9, with a win 32-25 and the team saw many of their new players perform exceedingly well. Zach Partin, a rookie to the team, earned Man of the Match honors for his for his fearlessness in both attack and defense as well as his force in set piece and open play. The team felt as though they could have won the match by a wider margin, but were happy with a win regardless.
For the Ram’s first home match of the season on Sept. 16, they would face the Christendom Crusaders at Dorey Park. Christendom had won the National Small College Rugby Organization (NSCRO) National Championship for Rugby 7’s during the Spring of 2017, and was recently promoted to Division II. Things looked bad for the Rams early in the match as they found themselves down 3 scores to none but, the team bounced back and played flawless offensively. VCU found themselves 20 meters from the goalline with time winding down, but were stopped and lost possession as time expired. The teams tied 35-35 in an impressive back-and-forth scoring match.
George Mason University
That next Saturday, Sept. 23, VCU hosted George Mason at Seven Pines Rugby Pitch and won 51-7 thanks to scores by senior captain Conor McGeehin and junior Will Norfleet who also won Man of the Match honors that day. In only his second season of Rugby 15s, strong and disruptive defensive play along with hard slicing runs have been the key elements to Norfleet’s style of play. The team’s efforts on the day landed them in first place of the Cardinals Collegiate Rugby Conference North Division.
University of Maryland, Baltimore County
The following weekend, Sept. 30, VCU traveled to Baltimore to face UMBC. In the past, UMBC had no problem facing the Rams but, were stunned that day as they lost 25 -16. After the match, the captain McGeehin noted that the Rams could’ve won by a larger margin but, blamed his inefficiency in converting kicks for points that day. McGeehin would later invest in a tee to ensure that these problems wouldn’t persist.
Northern Virginia-Under 23
At Seven Pines Rugby Pitch in Richmond the next weekend Oct. 7, VCU tied against a competitive Northern Virginia Under 23 team 14 -14. The NOVA Griffins came in 2nd in the Cardinals Collegiate Rugby Conference playoffs last fall, beating VMI who normally find themselves within the top 10 of the Division II rankings. The Rams received high praise from the NOVA coach as well as officials for their noticeable improvement as this NOVA team had beaten the Rams 50 – 5 last season.
Old Dominion University
VCU’s one loss of the season came the following weekend, Oct. 14, against Old Dominion, who in the past have typically dominated the matchup. The Monarchs were also ranked within the national top 50 this season for Division II collegiate rugby teams. This time around, the Monarchs gained a late lead and won 26 – 16 due to defensive miscues and set piece failures.
The Rams will take on the University of Richmond Friday October 27th, at 7:00 pm. VCU has been successful against the Spiders in recent years and look to add another tally to their wins column. The club team will then travel to Raleigh for the conference playoff tournament at North Carolina State University. VCU hopes to surprise the conference and potentially earn a chance to compete for a national title.
Jack Laudano, Contributing Writer