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AIC-BC Rivalry Back Again

irish rugby tours

AIC-BC Rivalry Back Again

David Barpal photo.

This could become an annual thing.

AIC and Boston College meet this weekend to decide who is top in the ECRC, just as they did in 2015. Back then, the game was held November 7, and both teams were undefeated. AIC, running their high-powered attack, hammered Boston College 50-7. AIC went on to beat Clemson in a Bowl Series game and then make it to the national DIAA semifinals, while Boston College defeated Alabama in a Bowl.

This year, the two teams are once again, undefeated. AIC is 6-0, scoring 50 points a game and allowing 13. BC is 5-0, scoring 58 points per game, and allowing 11. That’s right, going by record against common opponents, Boston College might be considered the stronger team.

AIC Coach Rob Guiry certainly isn’t taking the game lightly.

“BC is definitely very good,” said Guiry. “Our guys are kind of aching for that tough game, that tough test, and we’re going to get it.”

It’s been a weird fall for AIC, what with Guiry stepping into the head coaching role after Josh Macy went to Lindenwood. Some well-regarded players have been unable to play due to academies, forcing Guiry to shift some players around. He has two wings who have produced some key scores throughout the fall - Christian Adams, who Guiry says is in the best shape of his AIC career and playing better as a result, and freshman Royaal Jones, who has tons of pace. But those wings sometimes don’t get the ball as quickly as they could because the midfield of Nick Franklyn and Marcus McIntyre, a former hooker and former flanker. Actually, Franklyn has played hooker, scrumhalf, wing, and both center positions, now. But they are not longtime backs, and so while they’ve done very well, the ball moves a little slower than it has in the past.

No worries, said Guiry.

“These guys have stepped into new roles and done really well,” he said. “Our forwards are going to put in their best performance, and they will need to. But we’ve been playing well there.”

Englishman and No. 8 Matty Jones has been outstanding. At flyhalf Jihad Khabir is a game-changer, and he will actually fly in from Chula Vista, Calif., where he is training with the USA 7s team, to play against BC. 

For Boston College, New Zealander Duncan Wood brings a special spark to the backline at fullback, and has the offense moving. Center Danny Schatzman continues to box above his weight and runners underestimate him at their peril.

Up front, Nick Savage is powerful runner at No. 8, and he covers the field very well. Hooker Willy Hock is a bit like AIC’s Franklyn, in that he has ball skills and Coach Rob Conway said “Because of his all-around natural abilities at rugby I would feel comfortable with him playing anything from the front row to center.”

So maybe BC is the favorite? They might be.

“This has been a tremendous season for Boston College,” said Conway. “The players have worked extremely hard to get to where we are today and they're excited for the opportunity to take it one more step. We have superb camaraderie in the team on and off the field. I believe this is one of the reasons why we've been so successful this fall. We have worked tirelessly over the last couple of weeks in preparation for our fixture tomorrow. AIC have some very obvious threats in their team and I believe we are very capable of containing them and slowing down their attack. I have complete faith in us to finish the season strong.”

AIC, meanwhile, has been steadily improving. Michele Magistrali has been kicking accurately, forwards Blake Gugul, Skyler Adams have anchored a pack that is getting better. 

It’s a rivalry alright, and it gets rekindled Saturday at 1pm.