Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass men’s rugby ends season on high note

By Thomas Johnston

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Shannon Broderick/Daily Collegian

(Shannon Broderick/Daily Collegian)

The Massachusetts men’s rugby team traveled down to Charlotte, North Carolina for a playoff game against North Carolina State in which the Minutemen came out victorious 40-10 Friday afternoon. The game was part of the American Collegiate Rugby Championship bowl series and was played on a converted driving range that was turned into a rugby field for the tournament.

“It was pretty cool, it was an awesome venue, great atmosphere,” UMass club president Brendan Kelly said.

The Minutemen got things started early, as Mike Ruther had a long run to score the first try of the game. Joe Jenkins knocked in the conversion and the Minutemen pulled ahead quickly 7-0.

It wasn’t long after the first score when Mike Ruther scored his second try. Standing at 6-foot-8, Ruther uses his size to power through opponents, leading to easy tries.

“He’s massive.” Kelly said of Ruther. “He played phenomenal. It was a breakout game for him. He’s only a sophomore, so it was huge for him to step up and play the way he did.”

Captain Thomas Thekaekara’s try right before the halftime whistle brought UMass to a comfortable 21-0 lead.

The Minutemen’s attack was slowed down in the second half, not by the Wolfpack but by the weather. It had been raining all day, making for a slippery field and the wet ball made for a lot of sloppy catches and passes.

“(The weather) was the one thing that troubled up a bit.” Kelly said. “There were a lot more dropped balls than we normally have, but luckily (NC State was) dropping them too, so it evened out. It definitely hurt us, but we have great athletes. I think we could have scored another 20 points if the conditions were good.”

Joe Hastry shined in the second half for the Minutemen. The flanker broke things open with long try 10 minutes into the half and another Jenkins conversion brought the score to 28-0.

After the score, the Wolfpack began moving the ball offensively, giving the Minutemen a slight scare when they scored two unanswered tries. They missed both conversions, however, making it 28-10 UMass.

But for the Wolfpack, it was too little too late. Even while making their run, they looked tired and worn out and consistently struggled moving the ball against the Massachusetts defense.

The Minutemen quickly capitalized on the tired Wolfpack with two tries of their own, both by Hastry. That would be the last of the scoring in the game, sealing the UMass victory 40-10. Kelly said he was impressed with the way the Minutemen played Friday.

“It’s a huge win. We did the same thing last year (winning our bowl game),” he said. “It boosted us up in the ranking. It’s a huge game and win for the program. Overall, the trip was a very good experience.”

Every team in the ECRC won its bowl game this weekend.

“One of the biggest things is we finished 5-3, which was not ideal for our conference. Then we saw Boston College won their bowl game, AIC won their bowl game, both against out-of-conference teams. This tournament showed our conference is one of top in the country, so us finishing fourth in our conference is not a small feat. Our conference did really well.”

According to Kelly, the bowl game victory proved that UMass is improving quickly and will be ready when the spring season comes around.

Thomas Johnston can be reached at [email protected]

About the Writer
Thomas Johnston, Assistant Sports Editor
Anna Woosley and Janja Kovacevic went undefeated in singles action for the Minutewomen over the weekend.
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