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New On-Field Approach and Old Off-Field Unity Power CMU

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New On-Field Approach and Old Off-Field Unity Power CMU

Central Michigan, muddy, tired, and smiling.

Central Michigan's victory over Grand Valley State last weekend was notable because it happened, but also because of the degree of the win.

CMU won 48-14.

"Since I've been here we've never beaten Grand Valley," said CMU club president and forwards captain Parker Adams. "To have it happen the way it did was really gratifying. We knew we were pretty good, but we were expecting a nailbiter, a real smashmouth game. Gand Valley has some really good players, we knew that."

But CMU unleashed a slightly different approach inspired in part by their personnel, but also by the addition of coach Soni Hafoka. The former Tonga 7s international is currently tearing it up for the Detroit Tradesmen, and when he can he commutes to CMU to help them. He has instilled a more adventurous style of play which the team has embraced.

"We've played the same style of rugby for years and he introduced a more Pacific Island style," said Adams. "We go from sideline to sideline a lot more, and he also reminds us when we get too serious, and that this is fun. He makes it fun."

When Hafoka can't make it to training his influence remains as Adams and backs captain Colton Potter know what the squad needs to work on and they get to work.

"What happened with Grand Valley is we got to the sideline really well and we were able to recognize those overloads," said Adams. "We've got a lot of experience and players who can exploit that space."

Nate Curtis has been especially useful in that regard while up front Tyler Glave has been a ballcarrying force whether he plays prop, lock, or No. 8. Two rookies, Tyler Waterstrat and Adam Russell, have emerged as ferocious tacklers, providing turnovers which are red meat to this new, dynamic CMU team.

Team, of course, is the key word. The other reason Central Michigan has started well is because they stayed together even when there was no rugby. The players continued to stay connected during the COVID shutdown.

"A lot of teams didn't really make it out of COVID," said Adams. "We stayed together, we were on Face Time, when we could guys got together in small groups. We stayed together as a team. We're a family, and the reason guys are on the team is because we are family. We just like hanging out together. That's how we stayed together."

Funny how having fun and liking being with each other translates into winning.