Male ruggers hope to ruck, scrum, tackle their way to title

Courtesy of Vassar College Athletics
Courtesy of Vassar College Athletics
Courtesy of Vassar College Athletics

The men’s rugby team saw their fall 2014 season come to rough and sudden end in the Tri-State Conference Championship at the hands of Fairfield University. While the Brew­ers had been extremely successful, they lost a host of seniors, many of whom played import­ant roles in the team’s success. Still with an in­flux of youth and a firm position in the hands of coaches Tony Brown and Mark Griffiths, the team looks to enter the fall 2015 campaign as competitive as years past.

According to senior hooker Adam D’Agosti­no, the team is looking ahead to a winning sea­son. “I am expecting that we will compete for and win our conference, hopefully with home field throughout the playoffs,” he wrote in an emailed statement. “We have been a contender for the past three years, always making the final and it is a winning tradition we can continue if we all work hard at it. I feel that our coach­es share this belief and are an incredibly large part of what makes us so competitive year in and year out.” Senior lock Louie Khourey from Wheeling, WV agreed. “Our expectation is to get back to the conference championship, so we’ve been keeping the new players informed on what we expect out of them.” Khourey wrote. “Coaches Mark and Tony have been working us very hard in practices to get back into the form we were in when we won the con­ference two years ago.”

This year on the men’s b-team, watch out for freshman scrumhalf Charlie Hooghkirk. “[He] is the only member of the class right now to have played before Vassar,” explained D’Agos­tino. Despite this, each of the ten incoming freshmen will bring a lot to the team. D’Agos­tino continued, “The freshmen are bringing a positive attitude and a lot of athleticism to the pitch. Not to mention they are learning the game very quickly.” According to Khourey, “The incoming freshmen have been a reliable source of energy at practice and they’ve had a great attitude about learning a new game.” Unfortunately there haven’t been any b-side games yet, so the newcomers have not yet had the chance to compete.

However, the starting men’s team will con­sist of mostly seniors, including D’Agostino. “I think having been a part of that group for the past several years we all have a good apprecia­tion for what goes into a championship caliber team,” he wrote. Senior center Eli Vargas men­tioned in an email that this year’s senior class has a tight-knit chemistry that benefits their play. “We have a group of seniors that have played together since freshman year. So the chemistry of the senior class along with the ex­perience of having played each season is a real stabilizing force for this year’s team,” he wrote.

As for the captains, Vargas explained their dynamic as well. “This year we have three cap­tains: a tripod if you will. I feel that this year’s leadership of John Winton, Zachary Heinz-Au­gust Rippe and myself provides a great exam­ple of play on the field, but more importantly it provides a positive influence on creating a culture of positivity and support for all team members,” he eloquently explained. “I feel that this is the main strength for this year’s cap­tains, because it ensures that the atmosphere of the team will be supportive of each member and will contribute to a more enjoyable experi­ence on and off the field for all,” he continued.

D’Agostino expressed a similar sentiment: “All three of our captains are good about in­stilling that mindset on the rest of the roster and we are getting better every week to reach our goal of a championship,” he wrote. Also according to Khourey, “The leadership of our captains has been outstanding so far. They’re doing a great job of organizing the team out­side of practice and getting us up to speed on what exactly is expected and what we can im­prove on from our games so far. They are al­ways a positive source on the field.”

The Brewers have begun their season a steady 2-0 in a recently restructured confer­ence. Their 27-14 win against New Paltz two weekends ago was not nearly as lopsided as it had been in years past and the team seemed to completely abandon its shape and pattern in the second half. The team looked a bit tight­er in its 31-10 victory over Sienna College this past weekend as the team maintained some semblance of shape in the second half. Keep in mind, this is being done with a relatively inex­perienced squad outside of the seniors, as well as with a few nagging injuries that will soon be healed. Sophomore forward George Sheppard hurt his hamstring and sophomore Nicholas Crooks is still recovering from knee surgery as well. The team graduated its starting 9 and 10, as well as it’s kicker, but looks to fill the void through strong performances from soph­omores Gary Garcia and Nick Olkovsky who will play 9 and 10 respectively. Garcia, who also has been taking conversions for the squad has filled of 9 the role nicely and will continue to get better with more games under his belt.

Some teammates’ personal goals for this year include supporting their teammates, put­ting their best foot forward or winning the con­ference. “My personal goal is to have a lot more impact on the field, specifically on defence and making more tackles for loss,” wrote D’Agosti­no. According to Vargas, “As a captain, I want to ensure that every one of my teammates will feel comfortable coming to me for anything that they feel may needs to be addressed,” he explained. “The main team goal this year is to win the conference, which as the season has progressed is seeming to be more and more something that is definitely in our reach.”

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