The Temple rugby team made a strong showing on Saturday at the Liberty Cup Tournament, winning three of its five games, and fighting another to a scoreless draw.
While the matches do not count as regular season games, they did provide a testing ground for new members of the team who had little experience.
In the first match, Temple took on Villanova, but neither team was able to score. In their next game against Drexel, the Owls won on a single, five-point try. Later in the afternoon, Ursinus defeated Temple in a close game that ended with a score of 5-0. The Owls wrapped up the day by defeating La Salle and Shippensburg, coming back from an early deficit in the latter game and taking control of the second half.
By the afternoon, heavy rain had an effect on play, though there were no delays due to weather. Mud made for bad footing, while the wet ball led to more missed passes.
The team fielded two squads throughout the tournament, taking the spot of another school that was unable to make the event. Both teams were primarily comprised of B and C team players, with starters occasionally mixed in.
Junior Gareth Jones, team captain for the Owls, said they are ready for the regular season and had aspirations of winning their league’s championship. Only a few players left the squad from the previous year, and other problems with players are no longer an issue.
“We were plagued with injuries last year,” Jones said. “Now we have a healthy team.”
“We’re going to build on new guys from last year. Last year we taught the game. Now we’re teaching the tactical aspect of it,” he added.
One of the players injured last season was senior Nolan Young, who was out with a broken collarbone. Young played aggressively throughout the tournament, knocking one opponent out of the way so hard that the player was left gasping on the ground while play continued around him.
Aggressive and physical play was not limited to one person, however. All of the Owls were willing to both make tackles and take hits. Senior Neil Deloggio was singled out by another player for “laying out one guy cold.”
Senior Tyler Rumsey, one of the starters for the team and a Mid-Atlantic Rugby Football Union all-star, said he thought the team would be in good shape for the season.
“We’re going to do well,” he said. “We only graduated one guy last year. We’ll build on the new guys from last year.”
While Temple rugby has had a limited practice schedule, the team can only practice on Tuesdays and Thursdays due to field availability and the university’s policy. Jones did not indicate that it was any sort of setback.
“During summer practice we were trying to do as much as we could with what we had,” he said.
Temple will play four games in the regular season, which starts later this semester.
Gregory Weber can be reached at email@example.com.