Thursday, September 8, 2016

Rugby East Preview: Kutztown

Pictured: Kina Malafu
Article & Artwork by Ryan J. Trost
This is American Rugby – Rugby East

Head Coach: Gregg ‘Doc’ Jones
2015 Fall Record: In Conference (6-1), Overall (9-1)
1st Place, Rugby East
Current D1A Top-Twenty Ranking: #11

Players to Watch

Vetekina Malafu, Sr.
USA College All-American, 1st Team All-Conference, 2015
Nick Hohlt, Jr.
1st Team All-Conference, 2015
Andrew DeColli, Jr.
Honorable Mention All-Conference, 2015
Albertus Van Wyk, Sr.
Honorable Mention All-Conference, 2015
Johnathan Sage, Sr.
Honorable Mention All-Conference, 2015
David Snead, Jr.
Arkansas State transfer from Oxford via Glendale Raptors

It may be hard to swallow for some, but ask Doc Jones whether his team’s 2015 Fall campaign was a success and the answer is a deliberate, “No.”

“Not at all,” he said. “We met our goal to win Rugby East, but we lost to Penn State.” At the top echelons of competition, eliminating singular blemishes becomes the focus. Kutztown’s goals this year are as always, to win the conference and to do it by defeating all comers. No easy feat in Rugby East any year, this season could prove even more difficult.

With three other conference teams currently in the D1A Top-Twenty, a St. Bonaventure club that should be better than ever, and the reinstated University of Delaware, 2016 Rugby East is filled with land mines.

Take the jump to read more.

To stay ahead of the competition, Jones intensified his recruiting efforts and he believes this year’s freshmen will prove to be the best recruiting class he’s ever had. That is no small statement. Reporting day for KU Rugby was August 29th. With 23 incoming freshmen, Jones points to no fewer than seven recruits who could have an immediate impact on the squad.

Athletes like D’Montae Noble of the Maryland Exiles, and US High School All-American, Brandon Boon began the two a day regimen last week under Jones’ guru of S&C, Larry Chester. Jones will not be drawing up any particular game plans until he has seen the boys in action for a few more sessions. “I always change the attack to fit personnel,” he said. “The conference is too tough. You can’t do the same thing every year.”

Jones and Chester do already know they can expect strength from their front row. What the pack looks like behind that is their first real concern on the year. “Back Row will be the key to whether or not we can open that offense up. (Otherwise) the style will be the same, run through the centers and get it wide.”

KU won’t begin their in-conference season until Sept. 24th, but they will play Wilmington men’s club the weekend before. By then, Jones and Chester will know what they’ve got. After that, there are no weeks off through the end of the year. With Army and Penn State consecutively before and after Halloween, Jones has his intensity plans in place to make sure the Golden Bears are peaking at the end of October, instead of at the beginning.

We should all circle that Nov. 4th clash with Penn State. That match (once again) has the potential to weigh in as the money maker in the conference title hunt.

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