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All Games are Must-Win - RPI Wins Tri-State

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All Games are Must-Win - RPI Wins Tri-State

Back in August Goff Rugby Report stopped by the first day of practice for the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute rugby team; it was, in fact, not even a practice, but rather a way to get new payers acquainted with the game.

At that event, the returning players were philosophical about the fact that they were playing a league game in nine days. Classes hadn’t even started. They had about a week to prepare, and in their opening game against a tough Siena College team, lost 16-12. But after that, RPI started to build their depth and build their game plan. A comfortable win over Montclair State and a forfeit win over Drew were followed by a 49-5 decision over SUNY New Paltz. At 3-1 they took on rivals Union and won that game, too, 47-19, and a week late thumped league-leaders Vassar 56-14. It was then everyone started to take notice. Not only were they winning, they were winning in convincing fashion. Marist, Montclair State, and NJIT all fell, and finally, in the conference final, Molloy 29-22. 

Pre-season practice for RPI was all too close to the actual season. Alex Goff photo.

RPI Rugby

Club president Will Howard said the 13-5 win over NJIT and the 29-22 win over Molloy were especially gratifying, because the team closed out tight games - a little different than winning by 20 at halftime.

Although … it looked like it might be a blowout early, as RPI led Molloy 19-0 after about 20 minutes.

Fullback Frank Emory torched Molloy for two tries and flyhalf Anthony Cormace scored as well. Howard said the Engineers might have taken their foot off the gas at that point, especially after hooker Brian Shoyer went down injured, but he also credited the opposition.

“Molloy got their momentum going,” Howard told Goff Rugby Report. “They’re a good team. But after Brian went down our set piece just wasn’t the same. The forwards worked hard, but our possession wasn’t as clean as we’re used to.”

It was 19-12 at halftime, and then the teams traded momentum.

Seamus Holland scored, and there was another scorer (as yet unidentified) in there, too, making it 29-17, and then Molloy scored to put themselves within a try.

Near the end of the game, Molloy broke down the sideline, and looked to be in at the corner, but RPI wing Gunter Hubert raced in to make the try-saving, and potentially season-saving tackle.

“It was really nerve-wracking,” said Howard. “It was a must-win, but we’ve been in that situation all season. We’ve been used to the pressure all year. Winning close games, the one against NJIT and this one, was nice to see - the guys reacted well in a tight situation.”

There are still things to fix for RPI. They rush their phases a bit, thinking they need to get ball out right now and rush to score, and sometimes that means support is still trying to get there.

“We need to work on our pacing, and sometimes we just tire ourselves out,” said Howard.

But the good news for RPI is, they have more games left to show they’ve learned that lesson. The Engineers are now Tri-State champions thanks to looking at every game as a must-win.