Hartford, Connecticut, November 22, 2016 - Trinity College senior men's rugby captains Tucker Morgan and Jordy Abrams have led their team to a tremendous season so far, finishing in first place in the New England Rugby Football Union with an undefeated regular season (5-0). After beating the University of New Haven, 22-14, in the league semifinal games and LaSalle in a 50-0 blowout for the league title earlier in the fall, the Bantams advanced to the national “sweet sixteen” in the Challenge Cup Playoffs which were held over the weekend in Maryland.
“We started off the season with a very tough and close win by only five points against New Haven, which was nerve racking, but we pulled it off,” said Abrams. “After that first tough game, we came out ready to go and it was pretty awesome to smack around the rest of the teams we played throughout the season. It was also cool to not only play in the final game for New England, but to crush them, 55-0.
"We’ve had less than 50 points scored on us the whole year,” Morgan added. "There were great score differentials in most of their games, including an impressive 45-3 win over Amherst and a 35-0 win over Wesleyan."
The captains described the national bracket as a bit confusing, but knew that they could potentially be playing until April when the national championships will take place. They’ve been playing since the second week of September, meaning that if they do go all the way, their season would last a respectable seven months, longer than any varsity sport at the school.
“We have been improving the past two years. We had a similar record last year, but we lost in the league finals, which kept us from getting to the national tournament,” Abrams said.
“We had a good core group of guys returning, as well as great new additions, so that has contributed a lot to our success,” Morgan added.
Despite the team’s success, they have faced several obstacles this season. With the makeover of the athletic fields on campus, the old rugby field no longer exists. The team moved its practices to a field off of nearby Zion Street and hosted games at Colt Park in Hartford.
“Logistically, it was hard to coordinate all of this and deal with the different locations,” Morgan said.
“It would have been awesome if we hosted playoffs on our own field on campus, to have people there watching and everything,” Abrams added.
The two also mentioned how Kevin Johnson, the coordinator of all club sports at Trinity, has been a huge help to the team this season, especially with all the issues with finding space to play.
“Kevin has been phenomenal to work with, and he has facilitated almost everything. The buses and fields were all taken care of by him. He’s a big part of why we are here,” both captains said.
The team pulled off both wins despite three injuries of three of the top players, including Morgan who was concussed from a game earlier on. Another teammate, whose position would be the equivalent to a football quarterback, rolled his ankle in a game and another pulled his hamstring in playoff game. Although they were down three men and also down by two points in the last four minutes, they were able to make a comeback.
The captains discussed how their team is unique in its high level of intensity and competitiveness for a club sport. The squad is made up of players who may have played rugby before, or simply heard about it through word of mouth and wanted to join.
“Our friend really got the ball rolling when we were freshmen. He joined the team in the fall of his first season on campus and then convinced us and everyone else to play too. We owe a lot to him. We sometimes joke around and call him ‘The Franchiser’ of the team,” Abrams praised of his teammate and fellow senior.
Prior to the weekend in Maryland for the first round the national tournament, Trinity had high hopes and confidence.
“From what we’ve heard and seen of the other teams, if we play our game and play our best,” Morgan stated, “we have a good chance of moving forward."
Indeed they had a great chance. Below is the recap from the tournament organizers of the weekend events, as the Bantams extended their season with two impressive wins.
Mount St. Mary's University hosted the East Coast Region Championship in Emmitsburg, Md. Trinity College (New England RFU) handled Alfred University (Upstate SCRC), 53-10, while Washington & Lee (Cardinals CRC) won by forfeit over Widener University (East Penn RU). In the final, Washington & Lee scored first to take a 5-0 lead but Trinity tied it up 5-5 by halftime. In the second half, Trinity's backline attack and staunch defense led them to a 27-5 win and earned them their first appearance in the National Championship set for April 22-23, 2017, at Founders Field in Cheswick, Pennsylvania.