The injury-ridden Rowan rugby team headed into the second to last game of the season against West Chester University and dropped to .500, which also officially put them out of playoff contention.
The Profs lost 34-19 to the Rams but led 14-0 at halftime. Players and coaches alike mentioned that it was hard to keep the momentum going throughout the match because of how many players are out with injuries. Joe Smith, one of the team’s co-captains, explained what the match was like and how he felt the Profs did not leave it all on the field.
“Our objective was to always run the score up, we had the chance to get ahead of them quickly and we scored pretty quick after the second-half kickoff,” Smith said. “After the kick, we let our foot off of the gas and allowed them back in. And then the injuries from the long season built up as the game went on and the wheels kind of fell off… There’s definitely more that we could have put into the game. There were a lot of missed opportunities left out there and points off the board. That’s something that we should have improved on as the season went on.”
After that loss, the Profs went on a three-game losing streak, with their last win being against Delaware University. Heading into their last matchup of the season against the University of Maryland, Coach Tim Smith explained how the Profs can improve one more time.
“Last game, we had new guys in there filling in for the injured players and a lot of mental breakdowns in the second half, that is a part of growing pains,” Coach Smith said. “We need to go back to playing Rowan rugby, I said from the beginning, if you play our style of rugby, we will win every game. We have not been blown out of any game, basically, we have a lot of speed, experience in our pack. Again, injuries happen, and it happens to every team. So, guys just have to be able to step up and fill in because that is what you did all season and worked to get to that point.”
Another injured player is Co-Captain Dante Lorenzini, as he was out for the last game with a concussion after taking a knee to the face during the loss. Even though he is out, he had faith in his teammates to win against the Terrapins, snap the losing streak and end the season on a high note.
“I think we are ready for Maryland, you just got to execute, it all starts at practice every week,” Lorenzini said. “You have to stay motivated and work hard. I hope all the guys will go out and finish strong. We have a lot of guys here that might be their last time playing in college, so play for the guy next to you. If you aren’t going to play for yourself, play for your teammate, play for your brothers.”
Going into that matchup the Terrapins were right behind the Profs in the conference, one game behind Rowan with a record of 2-3-0. The Profs ended up losing 50-19 to the Maryland Terrapins and fell to 3-4-0 on the season.
The one big question mark remains — if the Profs had played James Madison University, would the game have improved the standings, or would the season still look the same? The first time the two teams were supposed to meet, Hurricane Ian was looming on the coast. The second time the Profs made the decision to call off the match. Coach Smith thinks the Profs would be better if the match happened.
“I think if we played them straight up, on the Saturday like we were supposed to, I think it would have been a good match,” Coach Smith said. “I believe because I know who they have on their team, we could have won that game. To reschedule it and have to play in the middle of the week, playing three rugby games seven days, is just barbaric. So once we knew that we weren’t in the playoffs, that was when I said that I am not going to that to these kids. We have enough injuries as it was and compiling it with a second game in less than four days was a little too much. You are barely recovering by then.”
As the season has officially closed, seniors like Smith are feeling many different emotions, but know there is still another season to look forward to.
“We still have the spring season but it is not 15s,” Smith said. “It is sad not going to be able to play here anymore. I made a lot of friends and memories.”
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