Thursday, September 29, 2016

Rugby East Drop on Penn State’s Bona-Buffalo Double

by Ryan J. Trost
This is American Rugby – Rugby East

Much like Army’s schedule demanded last week, Penn State will be taking on the Buffalo area double header in week-four. The schedule is slightly different for the Nittany Lions. They will host St. Bonaventure on Friday night before travelling to Buffalo for UB on Saturday. It is only a slight wrinkle of difference and Blake Burdette’s team will approach the logistics in much the same fashion. The Friday night tilt with Tui Osborne and the Bonnies will see more of the team’s upper classmen in action, while a separate travel team for Saturday will be comprised of more of the Lions’ younger athletes.

That doesn’t necessarily mean an easier match for Mike Hodgins and the UB Bulls. Penn State has a very deep talent drop. Players like Mike Dabulas, Jack McLean (both sophomores), Kyle Crawford and Jordan Croft (both freshmen) have a wealth of experience already under their belts with the Nittany Lions.

Dabulas is the guy Burdette highlighted this week as perhaps the best overall player among his halfback pairings, which is saying something. Both Jimmy Ronan and Thomas Del Pino are potential All-Americans at #9 and #10 who have been noted by peers across D1A over the years.

Take the jump to read more.

For Buffalo and St. Bonaventure, the story remains the same a week after facing Army. Build on the improvements, cut down on the errors. Though things have certainly not gone their way in recent weeks, conversations with both coaches indicate that no hanging of heads in their home camps.

Both programs are committed to their plans for long term growth. “We’re not ‘happy’ until we are successful in Rugby East. We do have improvement though,” said Hodgins. “We’re trying to focus on what we do well, especially with teams like Penn State. Our scrum and lineout were again strong against Army, but we need to improve our 9 – 10 transition.”

As for Osborne at SBU, he said, “Morale is good. They’re willing to learn and take on what we’re coaching. The only way to improve is through work.”

Improvement is indeed the name of the game at this stage of the season, and that goes for Penn State too. “We’re not a finished product,” said Burdette. “You’re probably not going to like this answer, but I am really worried about St. Bonaventure. These are both good teams and we need to be focused on them.”

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