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Middlebury Eyes Repeat as ECRC Kicks Off

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Middlebury Eyes Repeat as ECRC Kicks Off

The season begins in the East Coast Rugby Conference, with Albany at Middlebury, UMass at Boston College, and Northeastern visiting AIC.

Last weekend’s thunderstorms caused problems for teams trying to get a game in before the league kicked off. AIC was due to visit Army, but had to stay home. Middlebury was expecting to play in the Granite Cup at Dartmouth, but thunderbolts cancelled that, as well.

So the defending league champs will host Middlebury perhaps a little undercooked, but they can handle it. The Panthers are rarely the most athletic or biggest team in the league they play in, but they play smart, tough team rugby, and Head Coach John Phillips will need that tradition this fall.

“Last year’s squad was good,” said Phillips. “But we lost 13 seniors out of our 1st-team squad of 23. We will be starting seven or eight sophomores. These young guys will learn that they have to step up.”

The inimitable Jake Feury is back to test defenses, and Cole Baker is an all-conference prop back for another year. Players such as Miller Judge, Chad Kahn, John Dukes, Kyle Dickey, Paul Molloy, and Colin Macintosh all return.

Still Phillips will need to rely on some youth.

“You never know what’s going to walk in the door,” he told Goff Rugby Report. “Generally this team is a team of overachievers. They really commit to the team and are good athletes. We have players come from many other sports - a tennis player who turned out to be one of our best tacklers, a squash player, a lacrosse player. The players all work very hard and we’ve worked to make practice tough, but fun.”

Among the youngsters looking to make an impact is Jackson Bock, a flyhalf/scrumhalf from East HS in Colorado and a select-side player from that state. His experience will help Middlebury a great deal.

For now, Middlebury are still among the favorites, but this early in the season it’s hard to know where anyone stands. AIC should be stronger than they were last year (http://www.goffrugbyreport.com/college-men/aic-brings-back-bulk-lineup) and Northeast has a habit of surprising.

September 13 ECRC Games:
Albany at Middlebury College
UMass at Boston College
Northeastern at AIC

Connecticut has a bye