The Springfield College rugby team fell short in Pittsburgh to the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater on November 21 in the USA Rugby National Tournament. Although they didn’t make it to their last possible game, this team has etched their names into the Springfield College record books and the memories of everyone that followed them all year.
The team amassed an undefeated record of 10-0 in the regular season and was the NEWCRC (New England Wide Collegiate Rugby Conference) Champions. They were able to obtain this perfect regular season by having the perfect storm of a team. They were powered by intelligent coaches, upperclassmen leadership, and a will to work as hard as they could to achieve their goals, all the way down to the last man.
Everyone that stepped on the pitch this season made invaluable contributions, but someone that carried a lot of the offensive load for the team was Jared Bean.
“Jared has been a huge piece to our offensive game plan,” said co-captain Jay Bonti. “His ball carrying style is fierce and physical.”
Bean led the team in tries this year with ten. Everyone knows about his nose for the end zone but if you watch the game a bit closer you will see that he was also a ferocious defensive player all year.
“He never shied away from a tackle all year,” said Bonti. “He never ran from contact, he encouraged it.”
Against Salve Regina in the National Tournament play-in game, fans would’ve noticed a member of the team flying across the field with his spikey orange hair making tackle after tackle. This player was Jeremy Phillips, and that is something that he did all year, and he did it well.
“He just seems to pop up everywhere for tackles,” said co-captain Patrick Stefanski. “Jeremy was our go-to defender all year when it came to covering the other team’s best runner.”
This season was a culmination of four years of hard work for the seniors on this team, and now that it is all said and done, they are proud of what they have accomplished.
“Representing Springfield College on a national level was been incredible,” said Bonti. “Competing at Nationals as one of the only club programs against varsity teams was an experience unlike any other.”
If this team is going to stay at the top of the rankings next year and beyond, the juniors and underclassmen from this year’s team need to take hold of the figurative torch and hold it high. This is something that this year’s seniors aren’t worried about
“I expect to see players like Eli Kligerman, Carmine Agostino, Jeremy Phillips, and Chullainn step up next year,” Bonti said. “All of them played intricate roles this season and I’m excited to see how they progress as not only players, but leaders as well.
As Bonti looks to returners, Stefanski sees the potential in newcomers to the program.
“John Grimaldi and Sean Reynolds are two forwards that I will be excited to see next year,” said Stefanski. “They are new to the game, but when they were on the field they impressed everyone who was watching.”
If there is one thing that is known for sure for next season, it’s that this team won’t rebuild, they will reload. This will be possible because of the hardworking underclassmen that have been taught what this program is all about from the graduating seniors.