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Minnesota-Duluth Lays Down An Early Marker

College Men

Minnesota-Duluth Lays Down An Early Marker

The University of Minnesota-Duluth opened up a new season in a new conference with a very impressive 65-19 defeat of Northern Michigan.

Duluth had switched from the Northern Lights conference, which includes teams from Minnesota and North Dakota, to play in the Great Midwest. The Great Midwest was probably the toughest conference in men’s DII college rugby before the Bulldogs joined, and now any argument is that much hard to pose. 

Still, UMD head coach Dean Walsh wasn’t sure what he’d see this weekend against NMU.

“We have a very young team, especially in the tight five,” said Walsh. “We lost a lot of forwards and we’ve moved some guys up from the B side and change positions. I am still not sure what the scrum’s going to be like.”

But, overall, with No. 8 Erik Elsner leading from the front, Duluth played a very expansive game and ran NMU into the ground.

“It’ was very competitive for the first 20 minutes,” said Walsh of a game where the teams traded tries back and forth. “At halftime I told them, if we score next, we’ve got a good chance.”

They did, and rolled from there. Walsh said there’s stuff to work on, but the fitness was there.

“For a first-up game on a very hot day their fitness was pretty good,” he said. “We worked a pretty good pattern.”

Donald Martin had a big game. Expecting to start at flanker, he was drafted quickly into the front row for this game and performed admirably. It wasn’t anything new to Martin, who had played flanker, prop, and even flyhalf for his high school team, Northside (in Duluth).

“He’s got the skills but he also has, as we say in New Zealand, the mongrel in him,” said Walsh.

Next up for UMD? The All-Minnesota Tournament (which is one reason why they played NMU in Michigan this past weekend). Then comes a week off and a rough run with Wisconsin-Whitewater, Wisconsin-Stout, Wisconsin-Platteville, Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and Marquette. 

“We don’t know anything about these teams, really,” said Walsh. “But they don’t know anything about us, either.”

Here is the entire Great MW schedule:

Aug 31st, 2019 Northern Michigan 19-65 Minnesota - Duluth
Sep 7th, 2019 Northern Illinois vs Northern Iowa
Sep 7th, 2019 Illinois State vs Loyola - Chicago
Sep 7th, 2019 Western Illinois vs UIC
Sep 14th, 2019 Northern Michigan vs Marquette
Sep 14th, 2019 UIC vs Illinois State
Sep 14th, 2019 Northern Iowa vs Western Illinois
Sep 14th, 2019 UW Platteville vs UW Whitewater
Sep 14th, 2019 Milwaukee vs UW Stout
Sep 21st, 2019 Northern Illinois vs DePaul
Sep 21st, 2019 UIC vs Loyola - Chicago
Sep 21st, 2019 Illinois State vs Western Illinois
Sep 21st, 2019 UW Whitewater vs Minnesota - Duluth
Sep 21st, 2019 UW Stout vs Northern Michigan
Sep 21st, 2019 Marquette vs UW Platteville
Sep 28th, 2019 Western Illinois vs Northern Illinois
Sep 28th, 2019 Northern Iowa vs UIC
Sep 28th, 2019 Loyola - Chicago vs DePaul
Sep 28th, 2019 Minnesota - Duluth vs UW Stout
Sep 28th, 2019 UW Whitewater vs Marquette
Sep 28th, 2019 UW Platteville vs Milwaukee
Oct 5th, 2019 Loyola - Chicago vs Northern Iowa
Oct 5th, 2019 DePaul vs Illinois State
Oct 5th, 2019 Marquette vs Milwaukee
Oct 5th, 2019 Minnesota - Duluth vs UW Platteville
Oct 5th, 2019 UW Whitewater vs Northern Michigan
Oct 12th, 2019 UIC vs Northern Illinois
Oct 12th, 2019 Western Illinois vs DePaul
Oct 12th, 2019 Milwaukee vs UW Whitewater
Oct 12th, 2019 Marquette vs UW Stout
Oct 12th, 2019 UW Platteville vs Northern Michigan
Oct 19th, 2019 Illinois State vs Northern Illinois
Oct 19th, 2019 Loyola - Chicago vs Western Illinois
Oct 19th, 2019 DePaul vs Northern Iowa
Oct 19th, 2019 Milwaukee vs Minnesota - Duluth
Oct 19th, 2019 UW Stout vs UW Whitewater
Oct 26th, 2019 Northern Michigan vs Milwaukee
Oct 26th, 2019 Northern Illinois vs Loyola - Chicago
Oct 26th, 2019 DePaul vs UIC
Oct 26th, 2019 Northern Iowa vs Illinois State
Oct 26th, 2019 Minnesota - Duluth vs Marquette
Oct 26th, 2019 UW Stout vs UW Platteville