Rowan Men’s Rugby Looks to Build Off Their Temple Victory on the Road

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Rowan men's rugby team sets up for scrum. The team earned their first victory of the season last Saturday. Saturday, Oct. 2, 2021. - Staff Photographer / Ashely Craven

The Rowan men’s rugby team beat Temple University 40-24 on Saturday, Sept. 24, and are now preparing for their first road game of the season to play James Madison University. 

Both the Profs and the Dukes are 1-0, with James Madison coming off a win over West Chester University. Head Coach Tim Smith does not seem to be phased by their 52-12 victory and is focused on preparing his team for the best they can be. 

“We are just going to build off of last week and improve,” Coach Smith said. “And that’s what we have to do every week. We just have to keep getting better and better, fine-tune the mistakes we had, get rid of those mistakes, penalties being the major thing. This is a really, really good team we are going to play at James Madison and we cannot afford to have any mistakes against them.” 

The biggest mistake that the Profs made during the 40-24 victory over Temple was being offsides. The young rugby team hopes to develop throughout the weeks and become stronger, which both the coaching staff and players like sophomore McKenzie Murphy already have noticed.

“I think it was really nice, the whole team came together and did what needed to be done,” Murphy said. “There was a lot of teamwork going on out there and it was nice to get out there with a win.” 

The Profs will have to come out strong against the Dukes because this game is a strong conference game. Both teams are hoping to be dominant in the conference, the Profs missed out on the playoffs last season because of tie-breakers, and James Madison went to the championship last season. That expectation of winning a championship is what is fueling the team, especially the seniors like Jaylen Shanklin.

“Building off of the win and going 1-0 every week,” Shanklin said “Going to the playoffs and hopefully winning a national championship.”

This victory over Temple not only showed the Profs what they are capable of, but they also gained more trust with each other. Coach Smith explained how this young team impressed him the most and how ready he thinks this team is. 

“Everybody came together and the defense was phenomenal, the tackling was usually mid-season form, but to have that in your first game is fantastic.” Coach Smith said. “We have a lot of young guys that came out and really impressed the coaching staff, so there are a couple of guys that probably by the end of the season may be playing in their first side.” 

Murphy was a big part of the win, he scored two tries and he is excited to continue his sophomore year. He and the rest of the team want another win to improve to 2-0. 

“I’m looking to get another win on the board,” Murphy said. “We got a huge group of guys who work hard with each other. I think we deserve a win and let’s hope we get one on Saturday.” 

The Profs play the Dukes at Harrisonburg, Virginia on Saturday, Oct. 1, and Shanklin is hoping for a physical matchup.

“I’m looking forward to a good physical game,” Shankin said. “This is why we play, it is a full contact sport, so I’m always ready to hit and I think we are going to perform really well, we are going up to the challenge, and hoping to come out with a win.”  

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