Syracuse men’s rugby off to best start in past 3 years

first_imgSyracuse club rugby is comprised of players from 10 countries, most of which come from different backgrounds — like junior Khang Tran.Tran moved from Vietnam to France with aspirations of being a chef, only to be told by his parents that he couldn’t make a career out of cooking. While studying in France, Tran found the sport of rugby. Tran carried the game with him to Syracuse, where it has tied him in with other players from varying backgrounds.With a team comprised of players from Australia, Bangladesh, England, France, Hong Kong, Spain, South Africa, the United States, and Wales, the sport serves as a link. This year, strong team cohesion has Syracuse men’s rugby 4-1 on the season and atop their league with three matches remaining.“This club is easily the tightest team I’ve been apart,” said sophomore Dillon Wall. “We’re all really good friends and we love to go out and play [the sport] with each other.”Head coach Rob Wilson, who has been with the program since its founding in 1969, admitted that it can be a challenge coaching such a diverse team because of the various styles of play and background experiences. Wilson tries to make the transition as seamless as possible.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“We are fairly consistent with our techniques,” Wilson said. “We focus a lot on basic techniques, so I don’t think it’s that difficult for a diverse group of players to understand what we’re trying to do as a team.”Susie Teuscher | Digital Design EditorAt practice, the players start with a game of touch, rugby’s equivalent of two-hand touch football. Assistant coach Dave DeSalvia says that touch is a nice way for the guys to warm up and have fun before their stretching exercises. Those exercises set the tone for the rest of practice. Captain Dallas Haskins, who played rugby for the under-20 national team in Hong Kong, urges his teammates to be precise with each exercise.The stretches are followed by a 4 on 4 game of toss. This drill is a condensed version of the game that allows players to focus on the complexity of the pass-catch situation. Though it appears simple, Wilson explains that it is crucial to success.Wilson breaks the drill down into three essential components: communication, alignment and awareness. Communication lets the passer know the direction and distance of their intended target. If the player is in proper alignment, it allows the passer to focus on the positioning of the defenders and make the best play.“All of it needs to get taken care of because the game gets pretty fast and furious,” Wilson said, “and if you don’t have all those details taken care of then you’re going to be losing possession. Giving the ball to the opposition isn’t a good strategy in most sports.”Wilson and SU have finished .500 or higher in each of the last five seasons. Prior to last year, Syracuse finished in the top two in consecutive seasons. Wilson attributed the 3rd place finish to a lot of inexperience paired with a lack of depth.Now a year older, the Hammerheads cite energy and cohesiveness as the driving forces behind their strong start. Wall, a sophomore scrum half from San Francisco, enjoys the camaraderie most.“The type of energy that you bring can’t be taught,” Haskins said. “And that’s really what’s driving the energy and focus that this team brings into games.” Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on October 9, 2018 at 10:19 pm Contact Tim: tnolan@syr.educenter_img Commentslast_img

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