The currently ranked #17 Colorado State Men’s Rugby Club has been making a name for themselves and stepping up big the last few years. Having alumni Ben Pinkelman play for the U.S. team in the 2016 Rio Olympics was certainly a milestone for the club. Ending the season last year in the #12 spot, and being beaten by BYU has the CSU Rams hungry for more. Seniors Duncan Frost, a lock, and Andrew Bowler, a wing, explained a bit about the club, the season, and the importance of their rivalry match with Air Force this weekend at Infinity Park in Glendale, CO.
“This weekend is probably one of the biggest matches for us this season,” Frost said, “they’re our biggest rival in our conference and this match defines how we will go into the playoffs, so it’s very key we win this weekend.” Bowler commented, “if we win this weekend that will most likely set us up for a home field advantage come playoffs. We’ve never had a home playoff match before so we are looking to come out with a win this weekend.”
Looking back the past few matches for CSU, they’ve dominated other D1A programs like CU Boulder (49-3), and University of Wyoming (69-6). Bowler explained, “we want to start distancing ourselves from the other D1A programs, we want to move up and compete with the big names. We beat CU and Wyoming fairly handily, but we want to be beating them by even more.” Frost continued, “We want to make a statement when we play and have other teams see that. We could have played a lot better as a team for those two matches.”
“There is always room for improvement so in preparation for Air Force we’ve really been working on fitness this week, tightening things up offensively, and perfect our defensive alignment when coming up.”
Frost continued with describing the forward pack this season. “There is honestly so much skill within our pack it’s amazing. Our pack easily has some of the fittest guys on the team. That goes a long way when it comes to capitalizing on line breaks with support and hitting offloads with speed. We are one cohesive unit.” Some pack members to mention are captain and senior Jaron Beerline, a bulldozer of a front row. Some new faces are freshman All-American flankers Joe Russert-Cuddy and Daniel Trump who have been absolute menaces on the pitch. They are both selected to play in the Dubai 7s U-19 Division at the end of November for the North American Barbarians Selects.
Bowler mentioned the success in the backline. “We have a lot of seasoned depth this year, with everyone competing for starting spots, it’s really great to see. There is a ton of skill and we utilize those skills with dynamic plays and patterns.” Senior inside center Liam Wynne has been making an impact all season with strong offensive lines off the ball.
Someone that keeps the CSU Rams focused on their goal and hungry for more victory is forwards coach Rod Hartley, who was diagnosed with ALS last year. “It was hard to see someone so fit and healthy become sick like that,” said Frost, “he really is the center of our team.” Bowler went on, “it was really hard for a lot of the older guys on the team to hear the news when we did. He still kept coaching though week-in and week-out, he was there every training.” Below is a link to a fundraiser supporting coach Rod.
Watch the CSU Rams matchup with the Air Force Academy this Saturday, October 21st at 1PM at Infinity Park in Glendale, CO!
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