Learning on the fly

Alyssa Cutter

FAU’s men’s rugby club will begin its season with more than 20 rookies. But the team is hoping that a small core of experienced, national-quality players will give it the edge it needs to have a winning year.

Entering its sixth season under head coach John Cawthray, the men’s rugby team is expecting to go through rough times.

But the club also believes that it can to do well because of the athletic ability of the new players combined with the experience of its veterans. Cawthray is especially hopeful that the new recruits will be able to learn the game quickly enough to help the team win.

“We have a good group of rookies, a lot of young kids that came in who are trying hard to learn the game, and they’re showing a lot of heart,” said Cawthray. “So we’re going to struggle a little bit, but we’re going to be good.”

His hopes are not only based on the quick learning ability of the rookies, but on a small group of players who are deemed to be of national quality. According to Cawthray, about nine players from the team have a good chance of making USA Rugby South’s under-20 team, which will eventually be playing a collegiate team from Australia.

“It’s all the colleges on the east coast that are trying out for this team, then they’ll have another tryout on the west coast,” said Cawthray of the USA Rugby South team, which is made up of players aged 20 and under. “[Some of our players] have a very good chance of making the team because of how talented they are.”

However, the club won’t be able to rely solely on the talent of those players, especially when playing big rival schools like the University of South Florida and the University of Miami.

According to club president Ryan Moran, it’s going to take lots of teamwork to win those games, and that probably won’t happen, considering how new and relatively inexperienced the team is.

“It just takes time to get the feel of how your teammates play with you,” said Moran. “That’s the best thing to get a good team each time.”

Last season, FAU was knocked out of contention by USF in qualifying for USA Rugby’s national tournament. When FAU plays its northern neighbors again on Oct. 23, it hopes to repay the courtesy.

“USF is a big grudge match,” said team captain Cliff Morris. “They kicked us out of qualifying for nationals last year, so, time to get payback.”

Just how well the inexperienced players mix with the seasoned ones will likely go a long way toward determining if the Owls can accomplish that and the remainder of their goals this season.

SCHEDULE

OCT 2 – FIU @ FAU

OCT 9 – FAU @ AVE MARIA

OCT 16 – ECKARD @ FAU

OCT 23- FAU @ USF

OCT 30- BOCA @ FAU

NOV 6- UM @ FAU

NOV 13- OPEN

NOV 20- FLORIDA CUP CHAMPIONSHIPS (GAINSVILLE, FL)