Intrasquad Scrimmage Sets Tone for Season
The 2016 Ohio State Men’s Rugby squad got their first taste of 15s competition on the new turf pitch at Fred Beekman Park with a Scarlet & Gray match on Saturday, August 27th. Captain Aaron Thomas and vice-captain Taylor Hurff chose the teams in schoolyard fashion going pick for pick after Thursday night’s training session. Ultimately Thomas’s Gray squad prevailed in a back and forth match that helped to highlight the team’s strengths and weaknesses moving forward. Thomas was joined by an experienced group of backs including senior Ronan Forrestal, Wheeling Jesuit transfer Jaime Barlow, and the 2015 Big Ten Universities leading try scorer Jojo Eramo. “Getting that first run in while working on our fluidity as a backline in a live situation helped to shake the rust off,” says Thomas the senior center.
As the veterans got a chance to relax the newcomers and the freshman class played a third half after the main Scarlet & Gray match. The coaching staff, Thomas, and Hurff pieced together teams while the veterans circled the field in order to bark out hands on instructions to each player at his position. “It’s really exciting to see the potential of the new freshman class and guys who have never played rugby before,” says Hurff, who refereed the match, “a lot of the freshmen have come from solid high school programs so they have a good understanding of the game and can start to fine tune their skills at the college level immediately.” Two of those freshmen, loose forward Spencer Krueger, from John Hershey High School just outside of Chicago, and fullback Andrew Baldado from Cleveland St. Ignatius, showed that they could be in the mix for the 22 man roster throughout the season. Krueger looks to make an impact on a pack that faces the challenge of replacing all but two starters from the 2015 season. “We’ve lost some pieces to the puzzle and are looking for some of the younger guys to step up,” says senior lock Jack Bengel, the 2015-2016 USA Rugby All-American Honorable Mention. “The PRO guys have come out and shown us an elite standard that we must meet in order to excel,” says Bengel, referring to the Ohio Aviators players who have helped to install a new offensive scheme for the Buckeyes during the preseason, “All the returning players have had to step it up a bit and the new guys now enter the system with even higher expectations.”
The Buckeyes welcome the University of Cincinnati Bearcats to open non-conference play on Friday, September 2nd. The Bearcats travel to Columbus with a 1-0 start to the season after a convincing 57-19 victory over the Xavier University Musketeers. Head to Fred Beekman Park as the A-side match kicks off at 7:00PM with a B-side match to follow at 8:30PM.