At first glance, the Boston Rugby Club wasn’t doing anything different on Saturday.
Every fall they play in the New England DI league. Only it’s been the case in the last several years that, as a Super League team, they didn’t have a road to the playoffs. This year, with the Super League now defunct and all RSL teams back in DI (except one), the playoffs are an option.
But that was the only difference. This was still early September, and still a game against a New England opponent. Head Coach Mike Diamantopoulos, however, saw something different.
“I think there was more intensity,” said Diamantopoulos of his team’s 67-0 win over New Haven. “The guys went into this fall feeling like they had a lot to prove. They showed a lot of enthusiasm and, I think, are excited about the idea of playing this fall.”
Boston didn’t have their best season last year in the Super League, but Diamantopoulos said he felt the team was just starting to come together. The opening three weeks of practice have been the best he’s seen.
“The guys want to show that they are better than last year, and NERFU, where there are a bunch of pretty good teams, is a nice place to start,” he said. “In previous years this was a time for us to develop. It’s different now.”
Leading the way are some new and old faces. The Boston back row is really starting to come together, with Brennan Moore anchoring a unit that included John Quill, Liam Murphy, and Ray Fleser. Fleser is a University of Rhode Island product, and he split time with Murphy, a former USA age-grader who is back in Boston after time in Ireland, but perhaps not at peak fitness.
The guy who has turned heads is Quill. With a US-born mother, Quill qualifies for the USA, but has spent most of his rugby life in Ireland. There he played for Dolphin Rugby Club and was in the Munster Academy. A 6-1, 225-pound flanker he is “very savvy around the tackle contest,” said Diamantopoulos. “His IQ in the tackle area is very high – he knows how to slow down ball and steal ball. He has a very high work rate, and we’re excited that he’s here.”
The opening match against New Haven was a big result for Boston, but won’t be their most challenging match. Coming up is Middlesex, which ran out 102-19 winners over Hartford last week. Middlesex is coming up from DII, and so have something to prove, too.
“I don’t care whether Hartford is the best team in the league or not, scoring 100 points is impressive,” said Diamantopoulos. “I don’t think New Haven tested our width much, but I am willing to bet Middlesex will.