|Hughes at the JWRT. Photo courtesy of IvyRugby.com.|
Take the jump, check it out, and tell us what you think.
This Is American Rugby: How is the season going so-far for you personally?
Madison Hughes: There are still plenty of games to play this year and we areconsciously trying to lay the groundwork for another great season and beyond. It’s true, we’ve lost some really great players, but that allows new guys to come in and show what they can do and keep up the Big Green tradition. I’m personally happy with what I’m doing out on the field, but at the same time it is important that we get everyone fully integrated into the team, and so at times I’ve taken more of a back-seat role to allow this to happen.
TIAR: The team had a slow start to the season on their tour of Canada and then a draw against Brown, what do you think the team has to do better to improve?
MH: We lost a great group of seniors last year, and after that a period of transition is to be expected. It may seem like a slow start, but it’s a natural part of the rebuilding process. We’ve had some exceptional plays this year and extended Dartmouth’s recent unbeaten record, but it’s true we’ve suffered from inexperience; cutting down on our indiscipline and error count is the immediate path to improvement. If we can do that, we can become dangerous this season and potentially compete for some of the honors available.
TIAR: As coach of the 7’s Eagles, coach Magleby has had to spend time away from the team. How has the team dealt with his absence and what does interim-coach Gavin Hickie bring to the team?
MH: Coach Magleby’s absence, as well as the graduation of a number of senior players has allowed others to step up and take on a larger responsibility within the team, both on and off the field. Coach Hickie is a great coach with an outstanding pedigree, and he has brought a fresh approach to the team. His background in the front row in particular has helped that aspect of our game, which features some younger guys. He also has brought a revised style and intensity to the team, which should lead to an improvement as the season continues.
TIAR: You are a leader on the team despite being one of the younger players? How do you lead players that are older than you?
MH: I’ve been lucky enough to play and succeed with many teams in my rugby career. At Dartmouth, it’s not about your age but about what you can bring to the team that counts. The guys might be aware of my background, but the Dartmouth philosophy is to win or lose as a team and not have individual stars. That philosophy takes longer to build and all the players are working to that end and taking into account what every one of us can offer to the team. Oh, and being able to shout very loudly helps as well!
TIAR: You spent a large part of your youth playing over in England, why choose Dartmouth?
MH: I wanted a school that had a good mix of high-level rugby and top-quality academics. I was not yet ready to declare my major, which you have to do in England, and once I had seen Dartmouth, had met with Coach Magleby and seen the rugby facilities we have here (which are truly exceptional), the decision became very easy. Winning the CRC’s with Dartmouth, winning the IRB Junior World Trophy with the Junior All-Americans and being selected for the All Americans makes me feel that decision was a good one.
TIAR: Dartmouth is a part of the new Varsity Cup, how much are you and the team looking forward to the competition and what are your goals going into the tournament?
MH: The Varsity Cup is yet one more sign of the emergence of rugby in the US. This is not surprising in view of the sport’s ethical code, physical excellence, teamwork, respect for authority and above all, safety. For Dartmouth, whilst we are concentrating on our fall season and continuing our run of success in the Ivy League, we are looking forward to having another opportunity to compete with the nation’s best teams although will need to step up our level of play a little bit from where we are today.
TIAR: Do you think the Varsity Cup is a good thing for college rugby?
MH: Any way to improve the overall attraction and diversity of college rugby is a good thing. While the usual naysayers will protest that it doesn’t allow a ‘true’ national champion to be named, this is not the most important thing at the current time relative to rugby taking a greater share of interest with the US public. The Varsity Cup is another way for top-level teams to play each other on a regular basis. The Cup will improve the quality of the US game, be an opportunity to demonstrate the sport to the public and allow more high quality games to be played. DI-A can accomplish the same goals, but some teams will find the commitment of the Varsity Cup will meet more with what they are looking for and able to commit to. Further down the line, it will probably be desirable to have a single national championship, but right now I think the priority must be to raise the overall quality and visibility of college rugby.
TIAR: The Junior All-Americans had a terrific tournament last summer, what do you think made that team so special?
MH: Wow, yeah, what an experience that was! USA – Junior World Trophy Champions is a great headline and hopefully something that future teams can build off. The level of cohesion on that team was special; as high as any team I’ve ever played on. Our coaching staff were exceptionally well led by Coach Lawrence who drove us every step of the way and allowed us to maximize our potential as a team. Will Magie was an inspirational leader and our forwards delivered quality ball, which released our lethal back line. We were able to spend a lot of time together before the games and so had a great sense of camaraderie and unity by the time of the tournament. Aside from the obvious highlight of beating Japan in the final, overcoming the tournament favorites Tonga in Game 1, scoring 35 points in the Chile game and tying the All Time tournament scoring record at 82 points were personal highlights.