Northeastern hosts American International College (AIC) Saturday in Boston for a big East Coast Rugby Conference (ECRC) clash. Both enter the contest 2-1. Northeastern’s loss came at the hands of Middlebury and AIC’s to Boston College.
The ECRC is bottlenecked at the top, with four teams at 2-1 and Middlebury at 2-0, so Saturday’s match-up will likely go a long way in breaking up that group.
Northeastern is fresh off of winning the ECRC 7s championship last weekend, which the Huskies did with some key players injured. Some of those guys are questionable for Saturday.
“Right now we’ve got a few guys that are hurt, important guys, so tonight we’re doing final fitness testing to see if they can make the roster,” said Northeastern coach Jamie Green. “Hopefully we can get these guys fit and get them playing, but if not I’m pretty confident in the depth we have to cover these guys.”
AIC will also be missing some players, as four Yellow Jackets are in a stalemate with USA Rugby regarding their eligibility. According to AIC coach Josh Macy, all four had reasonable expectations of receiving waivers for their final seasons under the old eligibility regulations, but since the grandfather clause in the new regulations doesn’t extend to players needing waivers that would have been granted under the old rules, those players are awaiting a grievance hearing.
Nonetheless, both teams have the depth to be competitive Saturday, and both have been eagerly awaiting this match-up, their first against each other.
“With what AIC is doing, I think they’re getting a lot of attention, and so certainly for us, this is one we circled as a big game for us,” Green said.
“New England’s a really small world,” said Macy. “They’re a really athletic team and they’re a big name just in education in the Northeast, so we’re excited to be in the same conference as them, for sure.”
Northeastern needs this win to stay squarely in the playoff hunt, with the ECRC champion receiving a bid to the DI-AA Sweet 16.
“Following our loss against Middlebury, it’s important we don’t lose any other games this season,” said Green. “So for that factor alone we’re really taking this seriously. We’ve put a bit of preparation into this and we’re hoping what we’ve done on the training ground carries over onto the field and we can get that win.”
For AIC, the path to the playoffs is different, as the Yellow Jackets aren’t eligible for an automatic bit, but are eligible for an at-large bid.
“We kind of see our role as the spoiler,” said Macy. “As weird as that is, it’s a unique position for us, and it takes a little bit of pressure off of us, because really for us, at large bids are about your resume.”
The game kicks off at 6pm ET at Madison Park High School.