Charles River Mens v. Seacoast RFC

Charles River Rugby Men vs Seacoast Rugby

April 5, 2014,

Joe Moakley Park, Boston, MA

Match Details: The Charles River Rats started their 2014 campaign against the defending Division III NERFU Champions, Seacoast RFC. Originally, Seacoast was slated to host the Rats; however field conditions forced the game location to a soggy Moakley Park.

April, 2014

Joe Moakley Park, Boston, MA

Rats Match

Match Details[1]: The Charles River Rats started their 2014 campaign against the defending Division III NERFU Champions, Seacoast RFC. Originally, Seacoast was slated to host the Rats; however field conditions forced the game location to a soggy Moakley Park.

Armed with new schemes on offense and defense plus an influx of numerous recruits (5 players made their Charles River debut); the Rats were poised to confidently defend their home turf. The Rats kicked off to start the game and unlashed five months of pent up aggression against the ruggers from the Granite State. The forwards instantly won the ball for the Rats on a great counter-ruck and spun the ball the backs. Unfortunately, the Rats were not using control when advancing the ball, giving Seacoast an instant opportunity to score. Seven minutes into the game, Seacoast scored their first try when they exploited a defensive hole in the backline, giving them a 7-0 lead. The Rats knew they were playing hard and figured they would get back in the game quickly. Seacoast received the kickoff, hoping to avoid counter-rucks, spun the ball to their backline, however Captain Corey Lang was waiting. The Seacoast’s Inside Center looked to make a simple pass to his Outside Center teammate; however Lang sensed the pass and intercepted it mid-stride.

With no defender in sight, Lang easily scored his first try of the season. Fullback Jerry Kenneally[1] easily nailed the conversion kick, tying the score at 7. It was one of many highlights for the Rats’ new captain, as he showcased his trademark, bone-crushing tackling throughout the entire contest.

The Rats received the kickoff and attempted to keep their momentum going, however they committed a costly turnover and conceded a couple of costly penalties, Seacoast elected to kick for points and regained the lead, 10-7. The Rats realized their anxious persona was defeating their cause, which prompted Scrum-Half Zack Cox and Fly-Half Ricky Friberg to slow the game and allow the forwards to string together multiple phases. The methodical pace made Seacoast impatient, which led to penalty opportunities for the Rats. Twice, the Rats elected to kick for points, and Kenneally drilled both kicks, giving the Rats their only lead, 13-10.

Despite the sloppy field conditions that featured a huge mud puddle on the 50-meter line, it took 25 minutes for the match’s first scrum. Rust from both packs showed as nearly scrum throughout match needed a restart due to either a collapse, a ball coming straight out the tunnel or an early push. Just after the first scrum, Seacoast recycled the ball perfectly and found the necessary space on the far sideline to score a try. Even though the conversion fell short, Seacoast enjoyed a 15-13 lead going into the 1st intermission.

Head Coach Paul Clemens applauded his players for sticking to his offensive system while staying aggressive, however he noted that the Rats were started to become unhinged on defense. During the break, Clemens made a number of substitutions to determine who would round out the A-side lineup for the rest of the season. Unfortunately, it took the new Rats and the old Rats a full thirty minutes to mesh, by that time Seacoast scored two more tries[2] and emerged with victory. The Rats committed too many off-sides penalties and had too many miscommunications in lineouts. These errors will be fixed with more practice.

FINAL SCORE: Rats 13, Seacoast 29

Man of the Match: Jeff Garner. Before the match, Coach Clemens announced that Garner would serve as the Forwards’ Captain. It was a surprising move, but Garner stepped up to the task and provided the forwards with the structure they needed to efficiently run Coach Clemens’s system. During 2013, Garner has been shuffled around the starting line-up, playing Prop, Lock, Flanker, 8-Man, Wing and Outside Center because he can easily fill any void in the Rats’ line-up due to his incredible, functional strength.

Honorable Mention: Corey Lang, Pete Arsenault, Brendan Wönn

Whips Match

Match Details: For the 3rd period of action, the Whips started to show some unison between the rookies and veterans as they clamped down on the Seacoast’s offense. The Whips used great communication and solid tackling to keep their opponent out of the try zone. The rise of awareness on defense was matched with a decline in offensive execution. Coach Clemens’s offensive system requires patience and discipline, instead the Whips played with panic and anxiousness with the ball, preventing them from scoring.

Overall, the entire match against Seacoast was a valuable learning experience for both the rookies and veterans of Charles River. Coach Clemens noted that the rucks on both sides of the ball were outstanding and for the first period, the pod running was working as he designed it to, but he said more people must show up to practice to clean up the miscommunications that were blatantly apparent as the match progressed.

FINAL SCORE: Whips 0, Seacoast 0

Man of the Match: Ren Nagai. The Japanese exchange student amazed both teams with his blinding speed. During the second half of the Rats’ match, Seacoast was breaking away for another, insulting try. Within two seconds, Nagai closed a 25-yard gap, stopping the sure scoring chance. Along with Paul Chassaing and Phil Balas, Nagai participated in a perfect counter-attack that Coach Clemens was waiting two years to witness.

Honorable Mention: Ian Willse, Paul Chassaing, Adam McKellar[4]

Next Week

The Rats will have a bye week, however they appearing at the “Beast of the East” tournament  in Portsmouth, RI, this Saturday, hoping to recruit the next generation of Charles River Rats.

[1] It was decided the Rats match would be two 30- minute halves, while the Whips would play for a 30-minute period.

[2]Kenneally only played in the first half because he had a charity boxing fight that evening, which rose over $1,000 for cancer research.

[3] One of those tries were scored by Greg Babbin, Ricky Friberg’s best rugby friend. After he scored, Corey Lang shouted “I can’t believe we let the fat kid score!”

[4] McKellar played for Seacoast during the Rats’ match, and then suited up in one of the new Charles River jerseys for the Whips’ match.