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Up North for Norwich, Penn

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Up North for Norwich, Penn

Norwich during preseason practice.

Canada beckons for many northern college teams this early in the fall, and Norwich University moves north this weekend to take on traditional rivals Bishop University in Sherbrooke, Quebec.

Usually the Cadets and the Bishop’s Gaiters play a full game against each other, but this weekend is somewhat different. University of Pennsylvania’s new coach, Nicholas Clapinson, played for Bishop’s in the early 1990s and wanted in on the action this weekend. So Penn travels north as well, making logical one more addition - Université de Sherbrooke - to make a foursome.

It will then be a series of shortened games between the four teams. For Penn, it’s a big test of a program that has struggled of late. Norwich, meanwhile, is coming in feeling pretty good about things, thanks in large part to a 27-7 defeat of Colgate in a scrimmage last weekend.

Norwich Head Coach Bob Weggler disputes the idea that Norwich is necessarily better than Colgate.

“We played well but we had a lot of substitutions,” Weggler told Goff Rugby Report. “So I wouldn’t quite say ‘we beat Colgate.’”

However, the result does indicate that Norwich might be strong this year. They do return MVP and scrumhalf Tom St. Pierre, who scored three of his team’s five tries against Colgate. St. Pierre was co-captain of the team last year as a sophomore. This year, he is the captain on his own.

St. Pierre, who played his high school rugby at Bishop Hendricken and has a snappy sense of the game. What Weggler wants is to get more of his players at that mental level. A three-game jamboree of shortened halves will help do the trick.

In the forwards James Rowan (Fairfax, Va.), and No. 8 Eric Pierone (Rotterdam, NY) lead the way with flanker Richard Berlandy (Farmington, Conn.) and hooker Matt Rambin (Fairfax, Va.) experienced too. Flyhalf Keegan Frick (West Chester, Pa.) assists St. Pierre as a leader in the backs. Seniors Mark Hill (Bordertown, N.J.), Alek Owen (Huntsville, Ala.), Dan Miller, Anthony Candrilli (Richmond, Va.), and Trevor Surratt (Boerne, Texas) all have experience.

Freshman Keyon McCloud-Holman was named player of the game against Colgate and the young prop could well jump into the starting lineup.

"We just finished our preseason and we worked a lot on team culture," Weggler said. "I think this team is in a good place. They want to work and they want to win and you can't really ask for anything more than that. Right now we are trying to figure out what our identity is and play to that identity. We know the conference is really tough. We play Rhode Island next week, and that’s a very challenging way to start the season, but I feel good about what we have.”