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Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Rugby East Preview--Buffalo

Pictured: Maninderjit Singh
Article by Ryan J. Trost
Artwork by Todd J. Elliott
This is American Rugby – Rugby East

Head Coach: Mike Hodgins
2015 Fall Record: In Conference (0-7), Overall (2-9)
8th Place, Rugby East
Currently ranked outside of D1A Top-Twenty

Maninderjit Singh, Sr. - Captain Flanker 2nd Team All-Conference, 2015
John Grasso, Sr. Fly-half/Center 2nd Team All-Conference, 2015
Tom Dreitlein, Sr. 8-Man Honorable Mention All-Conference, 2015
Colton Kells, Sr. - Captain Flanker 1st Team All-Conference, 2014
Luca Wrabetz, So. Fly-half/Center


With three full seasons in Division 1A now under their belts, the UB rugby club is looking to make marked improvements in 2016. To a man, the coaches and players we spoke with were disappointed with the regression that appeared between 2014 and 2015. After the winless fall, coach Mike Hodgins and his staff got to the drawing board and developed a true 12 month program, to structure players’ conditioning and diet.

Such is the state of ruby in D1A, full time application of the game is required if a team hopes to keep up. Hodgins expected a better, fitter group of players to report on August 22nd, than did a year ago. UB’s first preseason match against D1AA Syracuse appears to indicate success on that account. The Bulls have mostly been noted for the defensive strength in the past and their 38-0 win suggests the boys were keeping it together in their offseason program.

Take the jump to read more.

In the match, Buffalo moved last year’s All-Conference Fly-half John Grasso to his more natural Inside Center position, utilizing Luca Wrabetz at Fly. With hard charging runners like Grasso and their very good back-row threesome looking for short-ball opportunities, Wrabetz may prove to be a great decision in the end.

One thing that is certain, UB will need the same sort of urgency they showed coming out of set pieces against Syracuse if they want to meet their goals on the year. Hodgins described the issue last year as needing to be a lot better on first phase. His Captain and twice All-Conference Flanker Maninderjit Singh put it more bluntly. “We haven’t been matching the speed of other teams getting the ball out. We’d win a set piece and go right back on Defense. We were on D 60-65 minutes a game.”

With coaches, captains, key performers and youngsters all on the same page, Hodgins and Singh like the team’s spirit a week away from kicking off in earnest at St. Bonaventure. They want to start the year strong, especially against their closest neighbor and longest standing rival.

This is the year for Buffalo to put it all together. “Everyone who came up from 1AA is graduating this year,” said Singh.  The game plan is to open up the offense by getting their strong and experienced  pack onto the ball for multiple phase efforts and to keep their motors churning.

It’s a good plan. All that’s left is the execution, many times over.


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