Fall 2013 – Season Review

0436366246017 This fall was anything but ordinary.

The men of UMBC Rugby came together as a team and faced problems presented by injuries, loss of players, and scheduling issues.  But the team stuck to its value of "no excuses," coming out to every game and leaving it all on the field.  New players stepped up and the team rose to every challenge, including playing the last 3 games of the season within one week.  Every one of the members of UMBC Rugby stepped up and showed heart and dedication to the team, regardless of the outcome of the games.

Let's not beat around the bush.  UMBC finished (1-5) for the season - if you had asked anyone on the team before the season began, they would have told you they had high hopes for this year to be a year to make a run for a championship.  That's not how the season turned out, it had one of the worst records the team has had in recent years.  How does that make the team feel?  Disappointed?  Heartbroken?  Defeated?

None of the above, the team couldn't be more optimistic for the future.

To start, UMBC's developmental side [B-side] finished the season (3-2), with several dominating victories, including a 76-0 win over Johns Hopkins.  The players who represented UMBC showed an immense amount of teamwork, athleticism, and dedication to the team.  No matter how the A-side fared, the developmental side came out with high intensity and a work-rate that earned many of them A-side starts as the season progressed.  They played fundamentally sound games, with good tackling and offloading, that will be a foundation to build skills off of for future seasons.

The A-side players know that they have a lot of work to do to step up to the high level of competition in the conference.  They also know they have a lot of work to do if they want to keep their spot from the emerging athletes coming from the developmental side.  This off-season will not be several months of rest for the spring season.  Quite the opposite - all of the players are hungry to improve physically and mentally by working out, staying in shape, and studying the game of rugby.  The team plans on hitting the ground running come this February when practices resume after winter break.

The team, along with head coach Hanibal Gnahoui, set goals for themselves for next fall's season.  Among these goals are building brotherhood within the team, finishing with a winning season, and earning a spot in the 2014 playoffs.  The team knows exactly what needs to be done to achieve those goals, and there is no shortage of motivation to get to work on them.  The young UMBC team will only be losing 2 of its starters to graduation, so there will be plenty of time in the Spring to continue to build team chemistry in tournaments and scrimmages.  By next Fall, the team will be more mature, experienced, and prepared to tackle whatever challenges the opposition presents.

Let's not forget that the Fall 2013 season had several highlights that the team is very proud of.  The team scored at least twice in every match, proving that the offense could score on any defense.  Their 38-22 win over George Mason was featured in RugbyMag, and was a great game of rugby by both sides.  Several new members of the team scored their first tries and the team started to 'click' after that win.  There was a 2-week break of no rugby, thanks to a bye week and a weather-delay canceling their homecoming game vs. Towson.  When given a choice to forfeit the game and lose an opportunity at playoffs or play 3 games in one week, the team unanimously agreed to step up to the challenge and play back-to-back-to-back games.  It was not easy physically or mentally, but the team played their best rugby of the season against some of the best competition in the conference.  The team certainly proved their "never-back-down" attitude during those games.

There are many people who made this season a success.  The team would like to thank their sponsor, SAP NS2, for their continued support of the team.  The seniors on the team played hard and acted as role models for the new players, and leave their work ethic behind to a UMBC team with a bright future.  The team captains and officers worked tirelessly to tackle and overcome challenges that the team had never been faced with before, and made every game this season possible.  And finally, Head Coach Hanibal Gnahoui was dedicated and came to every practice and game, and has taught the team more in one season than many players have learned in their whole rugby career.

UMBC Rugby is moving forward and building to a better future.  The UMBC Rugby Alumni Association is continually growing and helping the team in on-the-field and off-the-field successes.  The alumni continue to show that when you become a member of UMBC Rugby, you are a member for life.  Many thanks to the fans, supporters, and team parents who come out to the games to cheer for the team on Saturdays.  Your support is invaluable to helping the organization grow, and we hope to see you all out in the Spring, as the team looks to return to its winning habits and repeat its tournament championships at Frostbite and Rocky Gorge.

 

By: Tyler Tippett
President, UMBC Men's Rugby 

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