Rugby squads prepare for spring

Both the men and women’s rugby clubs will have postseason. The women’s rugby club team had high hopes for the fall season following a year in which the squad finished as finalists in the USA

Both the men and women’s rugby clubs will have postseason.

The women’s rugby club team had high hopes for the fall season following a year in which the squad finished as finalists in the USA Rugby National College Championships for the Women’s Division-II level.

The Owls seem to be on pace as they were able to finish in the Top 3 of the Eastern Pennsylvanian Rugby Union this semester to be eligible for the Mid-Atlantic Rugby Football Club playoffs when the spring rolls around.

However, they had a tall task to begin the season as they faced the University of Delaware Blue Hens, a program that recently moved down from Division I to Division II. The Owls found themselves competing against a Delaware team with double the practice time and twice the amount of women on its roster.

Despite the challenge ahead of them, the Owls took to the pitch and beat the Blue Hens by a score of 10-5.

“That first game was a gigantic statement game,” coach Owen Jones said. “It set the tone for the rest of the season.”

The Owls took the momentum from their first game and carried it through the regular season, ending it with a record of 4-1. In addition to the win against Delaware, they picked up victories against the College of New Jersey, St. Joseph’s and La Salle. Temple’s only loss came at the hands of Drexel.

Temple’s record was good enough to place them in the EPRU fall playoffs where they faced off with East Stroudsburg in the first round, finishing with a 40-5 victory. Then the Owls traveled to Delaware for the semifinals in a rematch with the Blue Hens.

The match fell on a Saturday and homecoming night for Delaware and the Owls did their job spoiling the fun. Once again Temple held its own, this time besting the Blue Hens by a score of 16-5.

Jones described both the games against Delaware as a “huge boost of confidence.”

The women’s team would be defeated in the EPRU championship game against Shippensburg.  It was a hard fought game that Temple lost 17-7. They qualified for the MARFU playoffs with their second place finish.

The women will head to William and Mary on March 24, 2012 for the start of the playoffs. The Owls hope to make a deep run toward the club’s first championship since 2004.

On the other side of the pitch, the men’s club rugby team at Temple did not enjoy the same success that their women counterparts saw.

They finished the fall schedule with a record of 2-3-1. However, two of the losses came against Penn State and Kutztown, both of which play in Division I-A, a higher division than Temple. Those games showed promise for the Owls as they only lost to Kutztown by four points.

“We put up a lot of points against a very good Penn State team,” Matthew Violette, the club president of the rugby team, said in addressing the 37-30 loss to PSU.

Against the other Division I EPRU teams Temple also had a strong showing. They posted victories against West Chester and Shippensburg. A second game versus Shippensburg ended in a 5-5 stalemate. When they faced off with St. Joseph’s, the Owls came away with a 10-5 loss. It was a tough loss for Temple and Violette recounted it was a “hard fought game.”

The Owls could have easily seen more wins if the ball had bounced Temple’s way more often.

“We were always in games, but something always happened in the end,” Violette said. “That something was beneficial for the opponent in those three critical losses.”

The men were not able to qualify for the EPRU playoffs and in turn will also not be in the MARFU playoffs in the spring. The team will still play exhibition games in the spring in preparation for their second-consecutive year participating in USA Sevens Collegiate Rugby Championships during the summer.

Tyler Clauson-Wolf can be reached at

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