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St. Mary's Looks to Army

irish rugby tours

St. Mary's Looks to Army

Michael Geib photo.

St. Mary’s College of California will cap off it’s trip to the Northeast Saturday with a clash with Army at West Point’s Anderson Rugby Complex.

Already it’s been a successful break from the West Coast grind, with the Gaels slamming Dartmouth to the tune of 76-3 in a startling wakeup call for the Big Green. The Gaels then played Iona in a mid-week match. St. Mary’s ran out a 15 of players who don’t normally start, and the game was played in a wide-open spirit (no one kicked for goal on penalties), with the teams tying 27-27.

And so on to Saturday and the big test for both DIA programs, St. Mary’s v Army.

Army is coming off an impressive defeat of Navy, a game that was close - 29-24 - until the closing minutes when Army scored twice to seal it 41-24.

“They were very tough,” said Army Head Coach Mike Mahan of Navy. “Much tougher than I had seen on film. In the first half under their pressure, we had a case of the nerves and mishandled lots of possession. In the second half, we settled down and got into a rhythm with some great results.”

Army will need to be careful with the ball against St. Mary’s, as the Gaels jump on careless turnovers like scavengers on a carcass. Mahan has great respect for the Gaels.

“St Mary's is a great team, afraid of no one, and largely all kids with American citizenship,” he said. “USA Rugby needs more St Mary's. We are looking forward to hosting them and hope to get better by playing teams of their caliber.  As you know our team is very young so the more experiences we can give them, the faster they grow.”

The St. Mary’s team has been touring part of the Northeast as well as working on rugby. Friday includes a visit to Ground Zero in New York.

“It’s been great to travel and see different sights in New York and Boston,” said St. Mary’s captain Cooper Maloney. “It’s also been good to work with other coaches - getting a different perspective from different coaches, different ideas that help us sharpen our sword.”

Maloney said his team expects a tough, physical game against Army, and while the expect rain might play into the Black Knights’ hands, you never know.

“We are a faster team, I think,” said Maloney. “So we want to get some ball wide. But we can handle a physical game. We are almost always the smaller team, plying against men’s clubs and Cal and BYU. We just handle it. We’re a smaller dog but we have to have that small dog attitude. We have to fight back to survive.”