September 11, 2015
University of Delaware Rugby Returns
The University of Delaware returns to action this Saturday at 5pm at Frazier Field, Newark, Delaware against Saint Joseph University. After a hiatus of two years, Delaware has had 60 players to practice and is heavily a Sophomore-Junior laden team. They do have several very experienced players in Chris Mattina, who has recently played in the American Rugby Premiership with New York Athletic Club. Joey Roberts, Will Baker, Jack Finegan, Tom Abrams, Mike Gorman and Justin Elliott are also experienced College and Club players.
Look for forwards Ricky Comis, Matt Hess and Grayson Hayes to also make an impact this season. Many other players have had previous rugby experience in High School, include several promising backs. Delaware team probably consists of about two thirds of the players having had previous rugby experience.
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Delaware will play an independent Division 1 rugby schedule this season and hopes to return to the D1A Rugby East Conference next year. They will play nationally ranked Kutztown, Penn State and Wheeling Jesuit from that Conference, while also playing emerging talented Iona at the American Collegiate Rugby Championship Bowl in November. They begin the season Saturday against perennial Keystone Rugby Conference Finalist, St. Joseph’s and later play Rutgers. Add Ivy League, Princeton, Division II rugby powers Rowan and Mary Washington, and finally, Division II Club Wilmington RFC and that is a very tough schedule.
The season and how the team competes will be a huge measuring stick for the program. Look for Delaware to be competitive and improve as the season progresses.
It all begins Saturday, as Delaware play St Joseph’s. They last played in Delaware’s last match two years ago where Delaware was on the winning end. Since then, St Joseph’s has continued to have excellent recruits and has been a Finalist in the Keystone Rugby Conference. They also played in the Final 4 in at the Las Vegas Invitational Sevens and also performed well at the USA Sevens Collegiate Rugby Championship. They have the athletes, so expect a tough opening match.
Better yet, see the match Saturday in Newark, Delaware. I am, as I think it is a match that should not be missed.
Delaware’s schedule is below.
Two days ago, I caught up with Struan Murray, University of Delaware Head Coach at practice. In an interview on the DJCoil Rugby You Tube Channel, he provides more insight into Delaware Rugby and why he wants to develop the program.
Due to heavy traffic that day, an interview with Chris Mattina, Co-Captain, was postponed until Saturday. That interview is expected to be found in a recap of Saturday’s match. An interview with St. Joseph’s Head Coach, Dan Yarusso is also planned.