Friday, September 23, 2016

Rugby East Drop: Penn State’s Ride to Delaware

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

This week Penn State travels to Delaware in another match that most expect to be pretty one sided. Anything can happen though, and the Blue Hens showed some improvement against Iona last week. With State coming off a bye, the Lions should be rested and well prepared.

UD sustained a few key injuries last week against Iona, which could exacerbate the issues they are having as a young team. Missing prop Peach Hess and hooker Jared Wilkins in the front row is going to hamper the team most. The Nittany Lions’ tight five is often an unheralded group, simply due to their consistently dominant ways. It could be a long day for Delaware if they don’t unleash a few surprises.

To instill commitment through their early growth period, Delaware coach, Struan Murray is reminding his team that nothing is impossible. “We can’t come out worrying about what they’ve got,” he said. “(Penn State) have not really been tested yet. If we can pressure them, then we get to see how they react.”

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Reaction to pressure will be key for the Blue Hens as well. Something Murray wants to see more control over this week is their recognition of options when things aren’t going as planned. “Iona stopped everything we tried to do (last week), but there are a few things we have worked on that we didn’t even try,” he said.

Asked to elaborate on the choices his young men did not make, he said simply, “Changes don’t have to be complicated. It is better to go forward slowly, than to go backward faster (for instance).” If his young team can get their heads around the subtle sorts of changes he is teaching, eventually they should be dangerous again.

In the meantime their growth initiative is very much under way. “I’d rather lose and compete against these teams right now if, it means we improve in the next couple of years,” said Murray. “If we have to lose in our return year in order to get where we want to be in two or three years, then that’s what we’re looking to do.”

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