Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass club rugby hopes to continue momentum despite opening loss


(Cade Belisle/Daily Collegian)
(Cade Belisle/Daily Collegian)

Correction: It was reported that the UMass club rugby team lost its season opener 19-3 to Boston College on Saturday. The Minutemen actually lost this contest 31-3.

The Massachusetts club rugby team began its season on Saturday in a disappointing manner, dropping its season opener 19-3 to Boston College.

The Eagles jumped to an early 6-0 lead on a pair of completed penalty kicks and scored the game’s first try to extend the advantage to 14-0.

The Minutemen cut the lead to 14-3 at the half on a penalty kick by Brendan Kelly. BC, however, controlled the play throughout the second half, taking away any potential scoring threat and adding to its lead with another try to make it 19-3.

UMass’ Max Pomeranz suffered a knee injury in the second half and was replaced by Ben Brzoski.

Despite the lopsided defeat, the Minutemen’s future remains bright. UMass enters the fall season as two-time defending champions of the Beast of the East tournament – the largest Division I collegiate rugby tournament on the East Coast.

Last year’s success generated “positive momentum” going into this season, according to club president Jonathan Rossini. He said the momentum continued to build throughout the preseason and accelerated more rapidly once the school year began.

But for this momentum to carry into the season, the Minutemen will have to fill the void left by its graduating seniors, who Rossini said played key roles for UMass last year.

Nonetheless, the Minutemen’s returning players stepped up and contributed to the team’s resilience, depth and solidarity. Most notably, backs captain Alphonsus Preza and forwards captain Devin Ibanez are significant members of the team. Rossini labeled both veterans as players to watch this season.

UMass coach Phil Ciccarelli, a former Northeastern player who has coached the Minutemen since spring 2012, said the team’s success in the Beast of the East tournament and last year’s progress set the tone for what lies ahead.

“We picked up right where we left off,” Ciccarelli said. “So we are just perfecting our game plan right now and hopefully we’re gonna role through the fall.”

While the talent of the team is apparent, what really stands out is the sense of family and unity. When asked about team dynamics, Rossini said he feels that he has “40 brothers” and that rugby has “taken over,” in a good way of course.

Ciccarelli stressed that his players are truly “ambassadors of the game” and that they “put UMass in a great light.”

The program is heavily involved in student leadership and non- team related fundraising, dedicating its time to supporting causes such as breast cancer awareness and hurricane relief. Ciccarelli said the team holds at least one major fundraising event each year.

One major goal for this club, according to Ciccarelli, is to avoid being “outliers” within the community. UMass continues to positively impact the rugby and university environment.

The Minutemen return home Saturday to take on Middlebury at 1 p.m.

Ariel Kallenbach can be reached at [email protected].

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All Massachusetts Daily Collegian Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *