Despite being 1-6 in the D1-A Rugby East a year ago, Rutgers has reason to be optimistic going into this weekend’s clash with Navy.
Rutgers was very competitive in most of their games last year, and this season they return nine of their 2011 starters, including all-conference No. 8 and now captain, Eric Rubenstein.
And while they have lost some key players up front (prop Joe Malanka is now with the Austin Blacks and was MVP of the recent Fort Lauderdale Ruggerfest, for example), they remain a fearsome group up front.
“We have a strong pack, and we’ll need it again Navy – last year’s game was about as physical a game as I have ever seen,” said Rutgers Head Coach Ken Halligan. “We expect the same. But the difference for us this time around is we’ve got some depth in the backline. We relied a lot on our forwards in the past, and now I think we’re able to carry the load in the backs, as well.”
Demetrus Durham is a newcomer – new to rugby, in fact – who has promise on the wing, while flyhalf Dan Beatty has taken over at the pivot position and is leading well from there.
Now they just have to perform.
“Perhaps the biggest thing for us is that we’ve had a mild winter, so we’ve been able to train outside quite a bit,” said Halligan. “That’s huge for us. Now we hope to catch Navy by surprise.”