RUGBYmag Premier
The Real Differences in Russian and US Rugby PDF Print Write e-mail
RUGBYmag Premier - Columns and Opinions
Written by A.W. Scott   
Tuesday, 13 September 2011 23:17

A.W. Scott looks at the Cold War issue, but also where Russia is bypassing the USA in developing the game.

Middling Monmouth Hopes to Ascend PDF Print Write e-mail
RUGBYmag Premier - Scouting Reports
Written by Pat Clifton   
Tuesday, 13 September 2011 14:17

Monmouth, in their first year after being promoted to DI, finished in the middle of the Met NY pack in 2010/2011 with a 4-4 record. While not a wildly successful campaign, Monmouth did muster a win over league champ Long Island.

Long Island Not Complacent PDF Print Write e-mail
RUGBYmag Premier - Scouting Reports
Written by Pat Clifton   
Tuesday, 13 September 2011 13:42

Long Island won the Met New York last season with a 6-2 record, but that doesn’t mean expectations were met. LIRFC finished fourth in the Northeast and were bounced from the national tournament emphatically by Norfolk, 79-10 winners in the round of 16. Long Island has its sight set on improvement this season, which starts Saturday against New York Rugby Club.

RWC Notebook: Ireland v USA PDF Print Write e-mail
RUGBYmag Premier - Rugby Magazine Digital
Written by RUGBYMag Staff   
Monday, 12 September 2011 15:28

Click on the image below to access our notebook on the Ireland vs. USA World Cup opener featuring exclusive photos from Dave Brinton and quotes from the Eagles.

Little America in New Plymouth? PDF Print Write e-mail
RUGBYmag Premier - Exclusive News
Written by Pat Clifton   
Saturday, 10 September 2011 17:43

America has a second home in New Plymouth as the bunting is out and USA fans have been welcomed with open arms.

It might seem like New Plymouth is favoring the USA over Ireland for Sunday’s match, but local stores and establishments assure that both sides’ money is equally good. In fact, the reason for so much red white and blue is that Taranaki hosts a wildly successful Americana festival, which centers around vintage cars, every year. So they already had all the decorations.

One bit of pomp and circumstance they did not have was the US Marine Corps Band. Flown in special for the World Cup, the Marines paraded down the streets on Saturday to much applause and also practiced at Stadium Taranaki. They sounded superb.

Rumors are flying that it’s not just the presence of the Eagles that caused the Marines to make their landing. Some VIPs are expected for either the Ireland or, more likely, the Russia game.

No names yet, although some might do to practice saying “Madame Secretary.”


Audio: USA Forwards Coach David Hodges PDF Print Write e-mail
RUGBYmag Premier - Video and Audio
Written by Alex Goff   
Saturday, 10 September 2011 14:34

Audio of USA Forwards Coach Dave Hodges talking about the USA pack and what they hope to achieve against Ireland.

This audio is only available to Premier Subscribers.

Eagle Goalkicker Answer? PDF Print Write e-mail
RUGBYmag Premier - Exclusive News
Written by Alex Goff   
Friday, 09 September 2011 23:00

Who will be the USA goalkicker?

Glendale Still Team to Beat in West North PDF Print Write e-mail
RUGBYmag Premier - Scouting Reports
Written by Bernie Decker   
Thursday, 08 September 2011 08:42

Dewon Reed wiggling free in the DI final in June. Pat Clifton photo

All eyes are on Glendale as the 2011-2012 Division I season opens this weekend. National champion Raptors are preparing to defend their title though they’re idle on the weekend. But for the sides in their Western Territorial Northern Tier division, each match will be a chance to prove their mettle in competition with the premier US clubside.

Mark Bullock, Glendale’s director of rugby, indicates the Raptors will be up to the task: “We’ve lost a few from last year’s championship side, but we’ve gained some as well. We’d like the opportunity to return to the championship semifinals. We have a new group of guys, so it’s not the same team that won last year.”

Glendale will have lost two of their front three with prop Mike Tafel taking a break in the fall and hooker Shae Tamati returning to New Zealand, while lock Keith Dauper’s and center Justin Howley’s playing time will be limited due to work commitments. In addition (or subtraction), ageless halfback Andre Bachelet has retired and will concentrate his talents on coaching the side back to the playoffs.

However, fullback/wing and former USA Eagle Dan Powers, hooker Stan Moali and massive 8-man Ryan Chapman join the squad, as do former Aspen RFC players Matt Doubek (lock/#6) and Spencer Scott (flanker). New additions Eric DeFilice (center – Penn State) and Douglas Garrison (former All-American second row at Arkansas State) will don Glendale red-white-and-blue for the first time this fall as well.

“All our league matches are critical,” reports Bullock, “and in addition, we’ve scheduled Chicago Griffins, Old Puget Sound Beach, Palmer, and the Brazilian National Team in 2011-12. We hope to continue to compete at a high standard and represent the City of Glendale with quality rugby contests.”

Denver Rugby, whose Highlanders took second in the table last season, look to return to USARugby’s Round of 16. Head coach Pete Shafroth foresees a positive turn in his club’s near future: “We lost our Kiwis, prop and fullback, but I don’t feel we’ve lost that much. We’re strong in the front row and are quicker in our three-quarter line.”

Joe Moli (San Francisco Golden Gate) and Steve Blair (former Scotland international, Aspen RFC and Vail RFC head coach) have joined DR’s coaching staff. Shafroth indicates that overall, Denver Rugby’s depth has increased and solidified, “We’ve added half dozen newcomers, and two players who were out with major injuries last year have returned - Ryan Purdy (hooker) and Jeremy Wineland (breakaway), both impact players.”  Shafroth looks for his boys to return to playoffs with vigor and make a run at the finals.

Kansas City Blues vice president, Peter Kowalski, looks for improvement on last hunt’s 3rd place result: “In the forwards we’ve lost two frontrowmen, but we’ve replacements and have strength in our engine room and back row with the addition of lock Matt Potchad who returns from time in the Super League at Chicago Lions, and overall I expect good things from the scrum.”

The Blues backline will feature Joe D’Agostino (Kansas State, West 7s - 2008), who can play either flyhalf or fullback, and St. Louis University product Kelly Mercer at scrumhalf. “We’re looking for good rugby from those two, and we’ve inside center Jay Allen back from injury and from our (Jr. Blues) Academy, 21-year old James Poli in the centers,” he adds.

“We’ll pretty much have last year’s side, though we’ve quite a few new recruits,” says Denver Barbarians head coach, Jason Kelly. “Not name players as such, but a talented group nonetheless.” Barbarians are largely in flux in the fall with a bit of transience taking place from fall through the off season as they ramp up for the spring Rugby Super League campaign.

Boulder Rugby Athletic Club has a mind to improve upon last year’s performance. A healthy-sized recruiting class in addition to their steadfast core should see them raising their standard in 2011-12.

Western RFU’s D I Northern Tier action kicks off this weekend with Denver Rugby Highlanders hosting Boulder Rugby Athletic Club Saturday at Glendale’s Infinity Park rugby complex while KC Blues face off against Heart of America powerhouse, St Louis Bombers in the Gateway City.

Who is Andrew Durutalo? PDF Print Write e-mail
RUGBYmag Premier - Profiles and Interviews
Written by Alex Goff   
Wednesday, 07 September 2011 19:31

Andrew Dututalo is a new name in the USA 7s team setup; where’d he come from?


Preseason DI Top 25 PDF Print Write e-mail
RUGBYmag Premier - Rankings - RUGBYMag Premier
Written by RUGBYMag Staff   
Wednesday, 07 September 2011 19:10

Who makes up the preseason Top 25? We have a combination of returners and College Premier Division teams who have come back to DI, which should open up the competition and deepen the pool of realistic contenders.

Davenport returns all but two players for their title defense. The varsity program is just entering its third season, as are many of the Panthers. JP Eloff is the best player in DI, and he's joined by possibly the country's hardest working flanker in Ryan Hargraves and an intriguing and emerging talent in Demecus Beach.

However, they do play in the murderer's row of conferences. Miami (OH), Bowling Green and Indiana would be the odds on favorite to win several other DI leagues, but they're all bunched together in the Midwest East. With just 14 DI conferences, it appears there will be two at-large bids to the playoffs. Since the MWEC took two teams to the final four last year, don't be surprised if they get a second bid again.

Dartmouth could appear under-ranked at No. 2, but they lost 20 players to graduation, including the Downer brothers, RUGBYMag All American Charlie Grant, captain Tommy Brothers, Tanner Scott and 7s All American Muhammed Abdool-Shakoor. The entire Big Green front row is graduated, as are many of the backups. That's why Dartmouth isn't No. 1. They could be by season's end because All American Nate Brakeley and AA honorable mentions Paul Jarvis and Derek Fish return.

San Diego State, Tennessee and LSU all could have won DI last season, but all have lost some of the best players their programs have seen. LSU's Bobby Johns and Adam Ducoing headlined an outgoing senior class that will be nearly impossible for the Tigers to replace this year. Benji Goff has left Knoxville for grad school at Life and the Duncan Kelm era has come to an end in San Diego. Tennessee and San Diego State have are also replacing head coaches, though Matt Hawkins is a heck of a grab for the Aztecs.

Matt Sherman's entering his second year at Stanford. He will get started on Cardinal business late because of the World Cup, but he did the same last year due to being hired relatively late, and his team was a miraculous UCSB second-half comeback from a final four appearance. Marcus Henderson is a budding star in Palo Alto, and he could be primed for a breakout.

Why is Miami ranked ahead of Bowling Green? Seniors. The RedHawks have five of them starting, and they're all very good. Miami fell to Bowling Green and Davenport by a combined eight points in league play last year, and they return all the key playmakers.

Other ranked teams who've lost significant playmakers are Florida (DI RUGBYMag All American Darryl Meckley and Corey Penca, plus Matias Groetaers graduates in December), Florida State (Dylan Hamilton), Kansas State (Joe D'Agostino), Loyola Marymount (All American Zachary Fenoglio), Maryland (Sage Winn) and Buffalo (Pat Hughes).

Conversely, Indiana and Middlebury return virtually everyone. DII runners up Middlebury beat a few DI opponents last season with a young squad, including final four participant Harvard.

One of the biggest personnel transactions of the offseason was one that didn't happen. Matias Cima, the Gonzaga star that catapulted Maryland to the first-ever ACRL title, did not transfer to Penn State as rumor suggested. Cima is still a Terp, and his fellow Maryland diaper dandies are a year older.

1 Davenport
2 Dartmouth
3 UC Santa Barbara
4 San Diego State
5 Tennessee
7 Stanford
8 Miami (OH)
9 Claremont Colleges
10 Bowling Green
11 Florida
12 Sacramento State
13 South Carolina
14 Indiana
15 Wisconsin
16 Oregon State
17  Florida State
18 Minnesota
19 Loyola Marymount
20 Kansas State
21 Maryland
22 Middlebury
23 Buffalo
24 Texas State
25 Chico State

Coach Talk: George Skivington PDF Print Write e-mail
RUGBYmag Premier - Coaching
Written by RUGBYMag Staff   
Wednesday, 07 September 2011 16:12

George SkivingtonIn an exclusive RuggaMatrix Coach Talk installment, Bruce McLane checks in with George Skivington, former longtime Wasps player and current Leicester player.

In this audio interview, the two discuss professional preparation, analysis, tactics, fitness, scouting, and team-building.

This is available only to Premier Members.

Sneak Preview Summer Rugby Magazine Digital PDF Print Write e-mail
RUGBYmag Premier - Rugby Magazine Digital
Written by Alex Goff   
Wednesday, 07 September 2011 15:56

Rugby Magazine’s first digital issue is now available. Existing print subscribers and RUGBYMag’s Premier members now have exclusive access to the online publication, which continues to bring readers in-depth features, profiles and photo galleries on the American game.

Hopes Rest on Taku Ngwenya. Numina Photo
Favorites New Zealand and favorites Australia.

The Summer 2011 issue revolves around the Rugby World Cup, but also reviews the country’s domestic championships since spring; national teams’ various international tests and tournaments; and upcoming events around the country. Below are some highlights:

USA at the Rugby World Cup: Just Win? No, Even Losses Matter.
“This year, 30 rugby players from all walks of life try to find a moment or two of glory in a world rugby tournament that will crown someone else as champions. Truly, if the Eagles even make the quarterfinals, it will be a huge upset.”

Rugby World Cup Preview 
Pool by pool previews, players to watch, schedules, history and more.

“As usual, New Zealand is the front-runner not only in Pool A, but the entire tournament. But all is not perfect in All Black land. Through 2010 and into mid-August, New Zealand had won 16 of 17, but stumbled in two Tri-Nations matches just before the World Cup.”

GoffonRugby: Is the World Cup dream the right one?
Alex Goff encourages USA Rugby to think bigger than four-year RWC cycles.

“That means, more than anything, a holistic, long-term approach where winning even one game in the 2015 World Cup is secondary to setting up a system whereby we can see how today’s middle-schooler will get to be an Eagle in 10 years.”

That RWC Feeling: Former Eagle Brian Hightower remembers the highs and lows of the ’99 Rugby World Cup.

“Usually the hard part about tackling a front-rower is that you know it’s going to leave a mark, but I had a difficult time just catching Mr. [Keith] Wood. When he ran by me, I was astonished to see the number on his back. He scored four tries that day. One of them was from a chip kick that he chased down in the corner. The only reason I don’t feel bad that I couldn’t tackle him was that nobody else could either. He was unstoppable.”

Rugby Magazine will return to a monthly frequency by 2012, so if you’d like to access the eZine, become a member of Premier subscription service. To learn more, visit here or to subscribe go here.

Bye an Advantage? PDF Print Write e-mail
RUGBYmag Premier - Exclusive News
Written by Alex Goff   
Tuesday, 06 September 2011 22:37

Being the team that has a bye in the first weekend of World Cup play in your pool can be a definite disadvantage.

Physio Reports on Wyles Status PDF Print Write e-mail
RUGBYmag Premier - Exclusive News
Written by Alex Goff   
Tuesday, 06 September 2011 20:00

USA fullback/wing/center Chris Wyles is the biggest question-mark for the USA going into their World Cup opener against Ireland Sunday.

Dartmouth Gutted by Graduation PDF Print Write e-mail
RUGBYmag Premier - Scouting Reports
Written by Pat Clifton   
Tuesday, 06 September 2011 17:25

Dartmouth’s Collegiate Rugby Championship 7s victory wasn’t just the icing on the cake for the Big Green’s season. For several seniors, it was their last taste of rugby altogether.

Before the CRC, few knew of Nick or Chris Downer, the brothers who helped lead the Big Green to nationally televised glory. After the tournament they were featured in Sports Illustrated’s “Faces in the Crowd”. Just as soon as they became as close to household names as one can being a rugby player in America, they’ve graduated.

So have captain Tommy Brothers, All American prop Charlie Grant, football convert Tanner Scott, 7s All American Muhammed Abdool-Shakoor and most every front row player on the two-deep roster.

Altogether, the Big Green were gutted by the loss of 20 seniors.

“It’ll be mostly a brand new team,” said Dartmouth coach Alex Magleby. “Most of the guys won’t have had too much first 15 experience. It’s the grand challenge as a coach.”

The most gaping void is left in the tight five, where every starter and most of the backups are gone. Dartmouth, despite being a CPD-caliber team steeped in tradition, will fill that void no different than most colleges would, with players converted from starkly different positions.

“It’s that old saying, you may be bigger than us, but at least we’re slower than you,” joked Magleby.

“All the guys are kind of the same size for the most part, so we traditionally have played a pretty universal game with multiple players being able to play scrumhalf, flayhalf, multiple players being able to play lock and prop…There’s guys that’ll have played in the centers for two years and suddenly they end up being our starting prop or hooker. A lot of colleges end up doing that, I think.”

Some of the starters who do return are heavy contributors, like honorable mention All American Paul Jarvis. The flanker co-captained last season and made the all Rugby East team.

The sole returner in the tight five, sophomore lock Dylan Jones, is a Gonzaga product and a good player.  

All American Nate Brakeley also returns, as do 7s contributors Will Lehmann, Will Mueller, Clark Judge and Kevin Clarke.

“They’ve had that 7s experience the last two years, so I think they’ll be competing really well and doing really, really good things,” said Magleby.

“Clark Judge and Will Mueller, those two will be seniors, so they’ve kind of been through the system, they’ve started CPD games, things like that. They’re leaders on the team so they’ll have a huge impact on our success this year.”

Derek Fish, one of the best scrumhalves in the country and an all Rugby East performer, is still recovering from a torn ACL and won’t likely be back until spring. But if Dartmouth makes it out of the Ivy League this fall, he’ll be a huge boost for the Big Green come playoff time.

The freshman most likely to help fill the scoring void left by the Downers, Scott and Abdool-Shakoor? High School All American wing Madison Hughes.

“He’s one of the better recruits coming into the US rugby ranks this year, I think. He’s a fun player to watch, so it’d be great to watch him grow here,” said Magleby. “Madison could play any position in the back nine well…He’s a potential guy that has a chance to play at the next level.”

Dartmouth lost a ton over the summer. But they usually keep the cupboard well stocked, and if there’s anyone who can make a masterful meal with what’s found in the average cupboard, it’s Magleby.

Baltimore Confident of Improvement PDF Print Write e-mail
RUGBYmag Premier - Scouting Reports
Written by Alex Goff   
Monday, 05 September 2011 17:45

Baltimore-Chesapeake enters the 2011 fall season coming off a 3-7 2010 fall. But fullback and outgoing captain Will Knipscher says the club will be back.

“It was a temporary hiccup,” Knipscher told

Rugby Magazine Summer 2011 PDF Print Write e-mail
RUGBYmag Premier - Rugby Magazine Digital
Written by Alex Goff   
Monday, 05 September 2011 13:25

Welcome to the new digital Rugby Magazine.

We have converted to an all-digital format for the magazine that is open to all Premier subscribers. Note, if you were an active print subscriber, we have set up a Premier Account for you (username is your first initial and your last name; Example Winston Churchill would be wchurchill) and your password is the account number on your last address label.

If you cannot log in, email us at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

What's in this issue?
We preview the USA at the World Cup.
We preview every pool and make predictions.
We chase down a rugby visit to the Seattle Seahawks, look into whether elite women players are burning out, check into some Eagles about their first game, and tell the story of the summer in pictures.

Brian Hightower remembers the 1999 World Cup in a touching memoir, and Dan Santoro goes over the entire Masters Calendar. 

Below is the link to access the magazine. This is available to Premier Subscribers only.

Media Looks to Shore Up D PDF Print Write e-mail
RUGBYmag Premier - Premier Content
Written by Alex Goff   
Thursday, 01 September 2011 19:10

Top of the Mid-Atlantic DI league in 2009, Media slipped in 2010, and looked to fix things this summer.

Buffalo Plans to Ascend PDF Print Write e-mail
RUGBYmag Premier - Scouting Reports
Written by Pat Clifton   
Thursday, 01 September 2011 16:54

Buffalo won the New York State Conference last season and was a host for the first two rounds of the DI postseason. That all came in coach Mike Hodgins’ first year at the helm of the program. Despite graduating a considerable amount of contributors in the spring, the Bulls are confident last year was just a part of the building process, not the finished product.

read more

“We think (last year’s) just a step to being a bigger and a better program. Although we’re not an Ohio State or Penn State in terms of size, we are a major university in this part of the country, and we’ve really put a big focus on high school recruiting and players a younger age, so we think we’re really going to building a strong program,” said Hodgins.

“The quality of the high school rugby in New York state is improving by leaps and bounds and these kids coming in are getting better exponentially.

“We had some graduations, but we also think we have a pretty good core of underclassmen who are maturing pretty rapidly. We have some pretty good freshmen coming in this year, which may not help us this year but on the horizon.

“We have quite a few returning players from last year. It’s going to be hard to say until we get two or three games under the belt to see how things are shaking out, but yeah we think we’ll maintain ourselves pretty well actually.”

One returner who won’t help the Bulls out of the gate but will long-term is No. 8 Matt Agugliaro, who is still recovering from summer shoulder surgery.

Pat Hughes, starting loosehead and captain of last year’s playoff squad, has graduated, but Hodgins is optimistic about his replacement.

“We’ve got a freshman we’re really excited about from Kenmore West High School,” he said of Mike Fleffa. “He most likely is going to be our starting loosehead. We think he’s up for the job. I think he’s going to be a little bit thrown in the deep end, but it looks like he’s going to step up.”

Another person who has to take the proverbial upward step is Sam Kemp, a leader on UB’s DIII side last year who could slot in at No. 9 on the a-side this fall.

Also returning for the Bulls are tight head Anthony Crispo, lock Steve Johnson and wing Brandon Wood.

“Those are three guys that are four or five-year players for us who are really starting to step into leadership roles for us this season.”

Buffalo opens league play Sept. 10 against Binghamton, who won the SUNY Championship last year.

Uncertainty Up Front for Syracuse PDF Print Write e-mail
RUGBYmag Premier - Scouting Reports
Written by Pat Clifton   
Thursday, 01 September 2011 15:35

Syracuse is just one year removed from reaching the DI Sweet 16, which they did before the creation of the College Premier Division and the watering down of DI, but last year they were unseated in the New York State Conference by Buffalo.

read more

The Cuse has struggled most since the spring of 2010 in the pack, where they’ve seen several of their stalwarts graduate each season.

“We lost a lot up front. Tight five players is what’s really been the challenge,” said Syracuse coach Bob Wilson. “Over the last two years we’ve lost pretty much all our tight five players, so we have pretty much new players in all those positions.”

Luckily for Wilson, his ever-changing pack is led at the back by captain David Delaney.

“He really has to perform, and he will,” said Wilson. “I’m comfortable with what he’s done in the offseason and how things have gone in the preseason.”

Syracuse also took a hit in the midfield over the summer, losing three in the heart of the backline.

“We have a couple sophomore centers in John Wilson and Evan Johnson who were the strongest of the backs,” said Wilson.

“They’re two converted wings, because our two centers both graduated, so they’re going to have to really play well, because we lost our halfback also, so we’ve got a new 10 and a new 12 and g13, so we’ve just got to see what we can do and hope we can get them into a decent pattern as soon as possible.

“We’re going to have a lot of people either stepping into positions or playing in new positions, so it’s been a little bit disrupted and was certainly, in terms of team play, not where we need to be, because we’ve been putting people in different positions and looking at a few spots due to some graduation challenges, so much to be decided over the next week and a bit.”

Syracuse is heading north of the border this weekend on a Canadian tour, where they’re sure to find out more about what they have. The following week the bullets start to fly as the Cuse opens league play Sept. 10 against St. Bonaventure.

But for the Bounce of the Ball - Norfolk Looks Ahead, and Back PDF Print Write e-mail
RUGBYmag Premier - Scouting Reports
Written by Alex Goff   
Thursday, 01 September 2011 13:28

We check in with the Norfolk Blues leading into the fall season.

Fixing Club Comps? Don't Hold Your Breath PDF Print Write e-mail
RUGBYmag Premier - Exclusive News
Written by Alex Goff   
Wednesday, 31 August 2011 22:07

Recent events beg once again the question about what to do with American men’s club rugby at the highest level.

Indiana Cupboard is Stocked PDF Print Write e-mail
RUGBYmag Premier - Premier Content
Written by Pat Clifton   
Wednesday, 31 August 2011 16:53

Indiana finished fourth in the Midwest East last season. In RUGBYMag’s final 2010/2011 DI Top 25 they were ranked 11th. Why? Because the Midwest East was the murderer’s row of college rugby.

Indiana defeated two College Premier Division teams (Notre Dame and Ohio State) and was an injury time JP Eloff penalty away from upsetting eventual national champs Davenport in the Midwest playoffs.

How many full-time starters have the Mudsharks lost over the summer? None.

“We graduated two players that were only part-time starters. I think I have 22 kids that played first-team at any given time,” said first-year Indiana head coach and long-time IU pack coach Chuck Fultz.

“In my forward pack I’ve lost absolutely nothing. I have forwards that are starting their third year with me in my program, in my style of play. We’re a pretty forward-oriented team with some big, strong kids and we work hard at it.”

Captaining Indiana and guiding their pack is No. 8 and Midwest all star Kyle Strohman.

“He’s just a great player. He’s goat a work ethic like I’ve never seen,” said Fultz, who’s been in the game 41 years. “In all those years, Kyle Strohmans, in my estimation, are few and far between. He is a very dedicated, athletically talented young man and he has decided to take the reigns this season and be our captain.”

Another coach favorite in the pack is hooker Charlie Clarke, who was voted the IU forward MVP last year and back MVP the year prior as a center.

“He’s a wrestler. He’s got the center of gravity. He’s a natural athlete. He’s our best all-around guy,” Fultz. “For some reason, the Midwest select side did not elect to take Charlie this year, which is a tragedy, because Charlie’s our best all-around guy.”

Indiana’s season will be decided in the first three weeks when they take on favorites Bowling Green, Miami and Davenport to open league play.

Gophers Reload Up Front PDF Print Write e-mail
RUGBYmag Premier - Scouting Reports
Written by Pat Clifton   
Wednesday, 31 August 2011 13:03

Minnesota finally beat Wisconsin last season to emerge from Midwest West play and reach the Sweet 16. Problem is, once they got there they ran into the buzzsaw known as Davenport and lost 27-0.

The Gophers have lost four starters since the spring semester, and the biggest blow came in the front row. Starting tighthead Garrett O’Connor graduated and his heir to the No. 3 jersey transferred to Nebraska. Luckily, However, high school All American prop Peyton Lauber will be in Minneapolis.

“I think that’s the hardest thing to find in college is a good front row,” said Minnesota coach Loren Lemke. “You can find the rest of them or create them, but I don’t think you can create props. They’re born.”

Another newcomer who could make an impact early is Jack Butterfield.

“He is either going to be a flyhalf or scrumhalf,” said Lemke. “He played on our 7s side and had a great summer, so we’re just looking forward to putting stuff together and see if we can get a run here.”

Paramount to any run the Gophers make will be scrumhalf Nate Augspurger. He has darting speed and big-play ability. His elder brother Sam has graduated, but one Augspurger is better than none.

If the Gophers can avoid injuries up front, Lemke thinks they have a chance to return to the postseason.

"My own personal feeling is, from just watching practice, is they’re not really fearful of anybody," he said. 

"College rugby you don’t know from week to week. That’s what scares me. I know we’re going to be fairly solid in our top 20, but if we lose a couple pack players we’re going to be hurting because we’re going to be counting on a couple inexperienced players to step up."


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