UMass rugby dominates again

By Henry Brechter

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Cade Belisle/ Daily Collegian

Cade Belisle/ Daily Collegian

After two equally dominant victories to open up the season, Massachusetts men’s rugby club came out in week three and put forth their best effort yet, as the Minutemen rolled over Fairfield on Saturday morning by a lopsided score of 72-0.

The road victory, which took place in Fairfield, Connecticut, moved UMass to 3-0 on the season.

Coming into the game sitting atop the East Coast Rugby Conference, the Minutemen carried a sense of collected confidence entering their third match of the season. They were fresh off two overpowering victories against UConn and Northeastern, but were going into their first road game of the year.

Senior forward Thomas Thekaekara, who is also one of the team’s captains, put in a strong personal effort against the Stags. Already with 15 points on the season, he solidified himself as a key offensive option on the team with ten more points Saturday.

“We know that if we do everything right as a team, things will go our way nine times out of ten,” Thekaekara said. “We were pretty dominant today, all-around.”

Though senior leadership has undoubtedly been a major factor in UMass’ success this season, freshman fly-half Joe Jenkins has stepped in and made an overwhelming impact in his first season with the Minutemen.

Jenkins, a young talent from Brisbane, Australia, improved his season point total to 58 (good for first in the conference) after another dynamic effort Saturday in southwestern Connecticut. Not only is Jenkins the top scorer in the conference, his point total is three times that of the next highest scorer, Boston College forward Tom Edwards.

Despite his shining stats and clear-cut importance to the success of the squad, Jenkins believes the continuous growth of he and his teammates as brothers will be the driving force behind the Minutemen’s triumphs this year.

“I feel like our composure is stronger than ever,” Jenkins said of his teammates after their most recent victory. “We are connected well as mates, and it’s transferring out on the field.”

As the team’s conversion kicker, Jenkins plays a big role in offensive production for the Minutemen. 43 of his 58 personal points have come off his foot and gone through the uprights after a try or penalty, a number which also makes up 23 percent of the team’s total points scored (191). His consistency as a scorer this season has been a huge part of UMass’ run as one of the most successful programs in the conference.

As for Saturday’s effort specifically, the game was a Minutemen scoring barrage that lasted the entire 80 minutes of the match. In the very first minute, senior flanker Joe Hastry scored on a crash ball from five meters out. The points never ceased to keep coming, as the Minutemen went on to score 39 points in the first half, and 72 overall.

Nine different players scored tries for UMass, including winger Jay Emmott, center Sam Sutera, flanker Max Pomeranz and prop Jonathan Rossini. In addition, freshman eight-man Timmy O’Connor scored his first career try in the 72nd minute after receiving one of several sharp passes from Thomas Ross on the day.

Thekaekara was more than pleased with the efforts of his teammates against the Stags on Saturday.

“Our line speed was very good today, and we were constantly able to tackle well and prevent advances,” he said postgame. “We all played really frosty today.”

The Minutemen will square off against New England College in Henniker, New Hampshire, on Oct. 3, with hopes of staying undefeated.

Henry Brechter can be reached at [email protected]