Ivy League Kicks Off this Weekend

The Ivy League Rugby Tournament is now a full-fledged league. As a preview of this fall’s inaugural Ivy League Series Championship, e-RugbyNews.com asked each team to preview what we might expect on the field of play, and on campus.


Comments from head coach Alex Magleby A-team’s record last season 19-4. Losses were to Queens U (Can) during preseason, Army in Northeast RFU League, St. Mary’s on spring break tour, and BYU at Nationals. Prospects for this year We lost key leaders in decision-making positions who started over the last few years. We’re looking forward to helping a new group develop and we’ll attempt to set a new bar. We have big shoes to fill. Recruiting The issue isn't recruiting, it’s student-athletes getting admitted. Unless they are near the top of their class, top of the SAT percentages, and have a stellar record of accomplishment, they have little chance of being admitted. Roughly 90% of our players are former high school athletes recruited on-campus. Key Players Hopefully we won't have any key players; it's the team that will win or lose together. It takes upwards of 30 players to make it through the fall season and into the National picture. Our issue will be developing depth from player 20-30; a big test for us at the moment. Effect of new Ivy League Championship on player recruitment We have always had a robust, on-campus recruiting schedule. That will continue, if not be improved. Attitude of school’s administration on new Ivy setup They are very supportive and quite keen to see rugby grow. Attitude of student body on Ivy Rugby’s new setup Students and the community at large can relate better to the Ivy League. Coaching Status Compensated coach. Like many others, our coach balances two full time jobs--coaching and business. Coaching is a part-time in contract, full-time in expectations.


Comments from head coach David Gonzales A-team’s record last season We finished third in the New England RFU and lost in the Northeast playoffs, round of 4. Prospects for this year We are looking very strong and intend to go further. Recruiting We had a strong recruiting year. Key Players The seniors, who have the most experience. Effect of new Ivy League Championship on player recruitment : None really. Attitude of school’s administration on new Ivy setup They are waiting to see how it pans out. Attitude of student body on Ivy Rugby’s new setup Rugby is just considered a club, which is pretty third class. Coaching Status Part-time, compensated coach. Will Harvard continue to play rugby in the spring? Absolutely, likely against tourists, local competition, and rebuilding for the fall. Comments Hopefully the Ivy League will showcase a great product. We hope our athletic programs advance rugby's traditions and culture. 


Comments from head coach Richard Lopacki A-team’s record last season This Spring Princeton won 10 games, lost 3, and finished 3rd in the spring 2009 Ivy Tournament. We last won the Ivy League in 2004. Princeton is one of only three teams to have won the Ivies in the last 10 years, the other two being Dartmouth and Harvard. Prospects for this year Mixed. School has just started and students have just returned to campus. It’s difficult to determine how we’ll end-up: 1. We had less than a week to prepare for our first two games (Yale on September 19th, and Harvard on the 20th) so this might be a factor. 2. Three of our A-side players are still recovering from surgeries over the summer. 3. We lost some key A-side players to graduation and have important roles to fill. Recruiting Right now we know of only two freshmen who have played high school rugby and will be coming out to play rugby at Princeton. Key Players Captain and second row Zak Deschaine, just a junior, is a natural leader and a strong, hard player. Sophomore fullback Pete Davidson played on the US Collegiate Sevens Team over the summer. Effect of the new Ivy League Championship on player recruitment Don’t know yet. We obviously hope it will enhance recruitment and it will be a big feature of our on-campus recruiting effort. Attitude of school’s administration on new Ivy setup No change yet. Attitude of student body on Ivy Rugby’s new setup Too early to tell. We are hoping it will help build rugby’s popularity on campus. Coaching Status We have two coaches and both receive stipends to cover all of their expenses. Comments We are under no illusions that it will be a hard start for us, given how late our students return to campus. In addition, we are the second smallest Ivy so we may not enjoy the depth in playing numbers that the big schools (Harvard, Penn, etc) enjoy. This lack of depth could be a factor on the two weekends where we must play both Saturday and Sunday games. Dartmouth starts the Ivies as overwhelming favorites, backed-up by their performance in pre-season, warm-up games. Harvard will be an extremely strong challenger. After that, Penn looks very strong, returning a big, strong, talented squad.


Comments from head coach Jan Pikul A-team’s record last season 2-5 (league season, doesn’t include friendlies) Prospects for this year In the top 4 of the Ivies. Recruiting Fair: quality seems good but numbers could be higher. Key Players Pat Madden (Center & Captain). Great leader, very fit. Tim Shriver (No. 8) Should have a break-out year; usually a second rower. Mike Horrell (Prop) Experienced tighthead with good speed and ball skills Ryan Vandersloot (Fullback) First full season, explosive runner. Andrew Moir (Lock) Anchor of scrum, team leader, good in loose. Phil Constantinou (Flanker) Openside flanker, great tackler, good in loose. The new Ivy League Championship’s effect on player recruitment None yet, but the word is getting out. Attitude of school’s administration on new Ivy setup As of now, they really don’t care. Rugby is considered a club sport and little time is given to us. Attitude of student body on Ivy Rugby’s new setup Uncertain Coaching Status Head Coach Jan Pikul, assistant coaches John Broker and Frank Heaven. Two of the three are compensated. Head coach attends three weekly trainings and all matches; assistants attend one or two trainings and some games. We train Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday Comments There is a lot of excitement about the Ivy League in the rugby community and with the players. The outside community and school administration has been impacted very little so far. We are hoping by developing the Ivy League, it will increase our status on campus and with the school administration.

University of Pennsylvania

Comments from team representative Eli Pearlman-Storch A-team’s record last season Penn was 3-2 last fall, making the EPRU playoffs. We had a strong spring season, winning the Philly Cup and going 5-0 in the process. We finished 5th in last spring’s Ivy League Tournament with a 2-1 record. Our overall record in the spring of 2009 was 9-2. Prospects for this year With a very healthy balance of seasoned veterans and some fresh new faces, Penn is coming into the inaugural Ivy League season with high hopes. Confidence is high that we can improve on our fifth place showing in last spring’s Ivy Tournament, cracking into the top half of table and making some noise around the league. Recruiting We have started off a healthy recruiting campaign that saw large numbers of players arrive to begin the season. Mixed in with the first-time players are those with high-school experience and a few foreigners with years of rugby under their belts. Key Players Ben Skarzynski - Senior vice president of the club. The fittest prop around, hands down. Devastating defensive player. Justin Clouden - Senior No. 8 terrorizes opposition packs around the ruck. Very strong with ball in hand, especially from the base of the scrum. Jonny Chia. Junior flyhalf with quick feet and an excellent boot, leads an expansive attack and powerful backline defense. Barzin Nabet – Senior club president and center. Has become a commanding, stabilizing influence in the midfield. Off the field, Barzin is an organized administrator who has helped the club focus on its lofty, new goals. Effect of new Ivy League Championship on player recruitment : On campus advertisements of the Ivy League Rugby’s inaugural season have been met with increased interest and enthusiasm. While people seem excited by the concept of the competition, we look forward to seeing if this yields a boost in on-campus support come match day. Attitude of school’s administration on new Ivy setup We are working closely with the athletic department on a number of issues important to developing a top-flight rugby program that can consistently compete against the top clubs in the Ivy League, Philadelphia's City 6 and the nation. The University is currently in the process of constructing new practice fields, and they are doing their best to coordinate our practice schedule on temporary fields in the meantime. Financially the University is helping us pay our CIPP dues, purchase necessary gear and equipment. The University has been invaluable in our efforts to better network with our alumni as we move to create a Rugby Endowment through a strong outreach operation. Attitude of student body on Ivy Rugby’s new setup Currently, we have yet to get a bounce on campus from the changeover to Ivy League Rugby but we are eyeing the October 17th match against Princeton at legendary Franklin Field as a big eye-opener for Penn's Ivy League campaign. Coaching Status Part time. No compensation. Will Penn play rugby in the spring? Next spring Penn Rugby will compete in the City 6, a round-robin tournament amongst Philadelphia’s six major colleges: Penn, Temple, St. Joe's, LaSalle, Drexel and Villanova.

Columbia University

Comments from coach Sean Horan and team representative Paul Wallace A-team’s record last season 5-9 (4-5 in the spring, 1-4 in the fall) Prospects for this year Eleven starters from last year’s team are returning this fall and another three starters are expected to rejoin us in the spring. This will allow us to build on our strong showing at last April’s Ivy League Rugby Championship. We have been averaging 30-40 players at training sessions this fall, as opposed to 20-30 for most practices last year. We expect a momentous season for Columbia Rugby and a major step toward our goal of establishing a program with the consistency and success (on and off the pitch) of a club like Dartmouth. Recruiting Recruiting has been very successful with our numbers higher than ever. We are lucky to have several transfer students with rugby experience from USC (California) and Oxford (England), plus a couple of former football players. The new Ivy League schedule has proven to be a good recruiting tool. Key Players Paul Wallace – 4-year starter and team Captain. Conor Russomanno – Two-year starter and a former wide receiver on Columbia’s football team. Zach Bull - Three year starter on the wing, with real speed. Bob McMahon – Two year starter at #8; a big workhorse. Olof Matti - Former football player at ACSB, he brings a lot of strength to the front row. Effect of new Ivy League Championship on player recruitment : Columbia Rugby has gone from a 28-man squad in the spring of 2009 to over 50 players this fall. There’s a buzz amongst the students about playing rugby in the newly formed Ivy League; a lot more than playing against local competition. The new Ivy schedule makes it easier to convey rugby’s legitimacy and our excitement for the upcoming season. Attitude of school’s administration on new Ivy setup Columbia University’s Club Sports Department is behind us100%. They’ve been extremely helpful with scheduling matches and trainings. Certain Columbia administrators are excited about this inaugural season, but it has not had any true effect on our day-to-day status as a club sports team. We must still follow the same process for scheduling buses and reserving field space as we did when we were playing a Met-NY schedule. Attitude of student body on Ivy rugby’s new setup With our surge in numbers this fall, it’s pretty positive. Among students with friends on the club, there’s also a degree of excitement. Being the only club sport team playing an Ivy League schedule is a significant way for rugby to grow and be viewed with more legitimacy on campus. Rugby is now more closely tied to varsity sports like football and basketball. Coaching Status Part-time compensated coach. Will Columbia play rugby in the spring? We are planning a tour to Europe and will also play against top local competition. Past spring seasons culminated with the Ivy League Rugby Tournament, but we now have the opportunity to enter other tournaments in the spring of 2010. Comments The Columbia University RFC is extremely excited about the start of the inaugural Ivy League Rugby season. We wish the best of luck to our fellow Ivy League programs.

Brown University

Comments from Brown representative Jay Fluck A-team’s record last season 6 wins, 4 losses, 1 tie. Prospects for this year Over 30 returning players from last year give Brown reasonable depth and experience. Recruiting Recruiting is difficult because Brown does not have "slots" for rugby players. The just arrived freshman class usually provides a few pleasant surprises, including at least two players with solid previous experience who will be of immediate help. Key Players Co-captains Hao Li and Andrew Alvarez will be counted on for leadership of the backs and forwards, respectively. Hao is a center/fullback and Andrew plays hooker or prop. At this early stage, many forwards are competing for positions. Prop Bob Forrester played last spring in Scotland and will be a strong presence. Many players are vying for backline positions. Most are unsettled except fullback, where junior Rob Powell looks strong and flyhalf, where freshman Zahid Jethani has shown great promise. The new Ivy League Championship’s effect on player recruitment: With school beginning on September 8th, we won't know for another week or two. Attitude of school’s administration on new Ivy setup Brown’s Athletic Director, Michael Goldberger, is intrigued by our new league structure and is supportive of Brown Rugby. Budgetary constraints affect much of what can be done. Coaching Status Part-time coach with compensation. Comments? The most immediate effect of the new Ivy structure is the attitude of the players. Winning a league is so much more impressive than winning a tournament.

Cornell University

Comments from Cornell representative Kyle Sullivan A-team’s record last season 2-6 Prospects for this year We're looking to be competitive with every opponent. Our main goal this year is to be as well-conditioned as any team we step onto the pitch against. Recruiting We've been able to attract freshman who have little or no rugby experience, as well as those who have played overseas or in high school. Key Players Center Ben Davies and hooker Carlos Albalaez are our co-captains this year. Ben played rugby in New Zealand last semester while studying abroad. He brings a wealth of knowledge to the club as well as heightened rugby instincts. Carlos is our pack leader, helping to bring the team together to form a cohesive unit. Effect of new Ivy League Championship on player recruitment : It will definitely help. Since we now play scheduled games against the same schools that Cornell’s varsity sports play, rugby appears to freshman like more of a varsity sport. Attitude of school’s administration on new Ivy setup The administration's attitude has not changed; they give us no help. Attitude of student body on Ivy Rugby’s new setup Cornell students are more excited about our games that feature traditional Ivy rivals such as Dartmouth, Harvard or Yale, rather than SUNY Albany. Advertising our games against traditional Ivy opponents will attract more people to come out and support the team. Coaching Status Full-time coach, no compensation

Contact: Ed Hagerty
Email: Rugbymagataol [dot] com