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Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Rugby East Preview--Delaware

Pictured: Tommy Abram

Article & Artwork by Ryan J. Trost
This is American Rugby – Rugby East

Head Coach: Struan Murray
2015 Fall Record: 5 – 3
Currently ranked outside of D1A Top-Twenty

Players to Watch:

John McCurdy, Sr.--Captain (Inside Center)
Tom Abram, Sr.-- (Fly-half)
Matt Hess, Sr.--Captain (Prop)
Nick Lintner, So.-- (Prop)

The addition of Delaware back into the Rugby East conference is a feel good story for all of D1A Rugby. Both squad and conference continually express the desire they have for the program to reach the levels it had before the suspension. That would put them squarely in the middle of the 2nd tier group in the conference, which is about where they do fit, judging by their performances last fall.

Delaware is an interestingly balanced team in 2016. By the numbers they are young, and that should make Rugby East difficult for them as they build. Their youth picked up great experience as freshmen last year though. So, it’s not your normal youth, per say.

The Blue Hens do also have a few very good seniors who remained with the program through the suspension. John McCurdy, Matt ‘Peach’ Hess and Tommy Abram will no doubt set the pace each week and lead from the front. There are almost no juniors on the squad though, so the heart of the club is really now with that dozen or so sophomores who got back on the bus last fall.

Take the jump to read more.

That group’s experience from last year, when the Hens started seven or eight freshmen in every match, will be invaluable going forward. The freshman class that Coach Struan Murray is bringing in this year is sure to experience similar moments of brutal doubt when they face their opposites and see Malcolm May or Kina Malafu. The hens will need their resolve to be firm, as they file through the phases looking for their spots.

That is not to say that the squad cannot compete this year. Disciplined and ballsy at once, the Blue Hens under Murray are a fun team to watch and typically quite dangerous in the loose. Their blend of patience and daring comes from a holistic student-athlete culture the team is building. In one concise statement, Murray described it, “If they commit to the school thing outside of Rugby, then Rugby is the release it should be.”

The University has made it clear and the team is line with the order. Academics and character first, rugby second. Murray agrees, “If we have good students, we’ll have good rugby.” That said, Murray is bringing his infectious blend of fun and intensity to the team as well. His gameplay philosophy allows the kids to open up, have fun and release the beasts as it were, during those 80 minutes of weekly magic we call “Rugby”.

“We want to play fast, we want to play aggressive,” he said. “Not going to gnash our teeth over dropped balls and things. Practice will be intense, but the boys are committed because rugby is more fun than the rest of the week. We’ll get them playing with a smile on their faces.”

To that, I say, what other way is there to play? Welcome back to Rugby East, Delaware. It’s going to be a tremendous year.

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