Marquette’s club rugby team kicked off its 2012 spring season under the Friday night lights at Valley Fields as it took down crosstown rivals Milwaukee School of Engineering by a score of 29-5 despite soggy conditions.
During the spring season, seniors on the roster do not play and that gives underclassmen like freshman fullback Nick Trausch more playing time to show off their talents for next fall. Trausch used that playing time to score three of the team’s five tries and put together 15 points on his own.
Senior flanker Nick Schad is one of two captains playing this spring and will return for the fall semester. He brings experience to a team that started eight freshmen and five players that had never played a game of rugby before.
“The confidence level coming in was wavering, just because we wanted to see how the new guys would do,” Schad said. “We’re going to rely on them a lot. The finite details of the game are hard to understand, but they’re getting them.”
Assistant coach Vince Kelly, a 10′ alumnus, recognized that the team is comprised of a majority of new players. He said that dealing with these players is difficult, and safety plays a big role in their development.
“It’s tough, and with a game like rugby, you always have to worry about safety,” Kelly said. “We go over it in practice from the start and then work on game planning. It’s tough when game planning is the second part to your game.”
The Golden Eagles played in a tournament last week, but with a different style of rugby featuring 10 men on the field at a time. Friday’s game was the first full squad game of the spring season. This tune-up season serves as a preview of what the team will look like in the fall for the main competitive campaign.
Last semester, the team finished with a 4-3 record and began practicing for the spring season in mid-February. Schad said that one of the team goals for next fall is to compete against national champions and divisional rivals Wisconsin-Whitewater. In order to do that, size is one of the obstacles they need to overcome, and Schad liked what he saw on Friday night.
“We’re kind of small for Wisconsin rugby, but we put everyone in the ground today, so I’m not too worried about that,” Schad said.
Junior fly half Jack Creegan was one for one in conversions in his first game as captain. He is only 5-foot-8, but what he lacks in size he makes up with vocal authority. Creegan credits a lot of his athleticism and leadership on the field to his coach at Xavier High School in New York City. It was at Xavier where he played under current National USA coach Mike Tolkin.
“Playing for Tolkin allowed me to come here and step in right away,” Creegan said. “I started as a freshman, and the experience at Xavier helped me make an impact right away.”