When you’re a club as old as Iona College Men’s Rugby Football Club you’ve been around the block a few times. Started back in 1977, the Gaels have produced a wide range of rugby players and have played in a variety of leagues and conferences.
Now in 2017, celebrating 40 years of rugby, they are competing in the new D1A Liberty Conference, which includes 17 teams from the Northeast, Boston and New York areas. The conference is split up into three divisions: the New England, the Empire, and finally, the I-95 division which is home to Iona College.
Coach Bruce McClane spoke about one of the driving coaching factors he implements at Iona. “Be the best at things that take no talent. It’s all about what you put in: Effort, hard work, getting in the gym, support from one another. Most of our guys haven’t played rugby before coming to college, so we really have to focus on that bit.”
That being said, Iona College has a plethora of talented athletes and rugby players ready to hit the gas against other D1A programs. Some goals set by the Gaels, besides winning the I-95 division, are to get some revenge on Army in October, take down American International College, and put up a great showing against St. Mary’s in November.
Earlier this season, Iona started to build some confidence in their attack against some non-conference teams like St. Joseph’s (47-8) and James Madison (47-0). In preparation for their first league match this week at Rutgers, McClane said, “we like to treat every week similar, practicing lots of restarts, our exit strategy, and rhythm of attack off of set pieces. We are also always working on our defensive structure, tackling, and how to score from turnovers.”
McClane highlighted some instrumental players to watch out for this season, for instance, Captain and outside center Michael Scarcella, a strong offensive and defensive menace. Number 8 Santi Mascolo, powerful off of the scrums and coincidentally also kicks the Gaels points.
The Gaels also have moved some players around who are now filling their roles more effectively. Mike Marro moving from fly-half to inside center, John Powers from the wing to fly-half, and Nandipha Dube slotting in from loose-head to tight-head prop. Freshman Connor Buckley has also stepped up big time, filling the Gaels scrum-half role. “The biggest thing we need is more consistency,” McClane elaborated. “The more consistency, the less little mistakes the other team sees and can capitalize on.”
Watch Iona matchup in their first league match with Rutgers TONIGHT Friday, September 15th at 7:30 pm ET.
Follow on Facebook: @ICRFC77
Photo Credit: Carol D’Allara