Men's rugby - Fall season closes at URI

Men's rugby - Fall season closes at URI

KINGSTON, R.I. - The Norwich men’s rugby team started the season with a hurricane and ended it with a nor’easter.

They traveled to Rhode Island to take on the University of Rhode Island Rams on Saturday. It started to rain as soon as they arrived and the weather got progressively worse, as the temperature never went above forty degrees and the wind picked up as the game began. 

The game was critical to URI, as a win would have put them in first place in the conference, but a loss would have eliminated them from the playoffs in favor of the Coast Guard Academy. Some Coast Guard players even made the trip from New London to cheer on the Norwich Cadets.

In the cold, sloppy weather, the Rams started off the scoring seven minutes into the game with an unconverted try, making the score 5-0. Though both teams battled it out in the foul weather, and the ball moved back and forth on both sides of the pitch, neither scored again in the first half. The Cadets hung tough on two drives by URI near the try zone, denying them the score. Likewise, the Rams held up the Cadets on a hard-driving effort at the try line just before the end of the half.
With die-hard Norwich fans huddled under blankets, with tents and umbrellas collapsing and blowing away in the wind, the Cadets braved the elements and attacked hard to open the second half, scoring a try just two minutes in when Junior prop Matt Maloney drove the ball over the line. The long conversion kick could not contend with the wind, leaving the score tied at 5.
The weather got worse, and the Norwich men worked hard, never wavering. URI broke the tie with a converted try at the sixty-five minute mark, then scored again a few minutes later with a penalty kick. The score remained 15-5 in favor of the Rams for most of the match, though the play went back and forth across the field. Norwich had two breakaway runs down the touch line, but URI held fast and kept them out of the try zone. URI scored one more try to end the match, making the conversion kick at the whistle to win the match 22-5.
“The boys displayed true grit today,” said Head Coach Bob Weggler. “After the match, the URI coaches boarded our bus to share with the team how impressed they were that the Norwich men never gave up under the extreme weather. It was by far the worst conditions in all my years of coaching. The Cadets never complained and battled to the end. What more can any coach ask for?!”

With the win, URI became the New England Rugby Football Union (NERFU) Div. II Men’s regular season camps. Next weekend they host Boston University, the second seed, for the right to go to the National Sweet Sixteen in the spring.