The Fairfield Red Ruggers kicked off their regular season in the right way on Saturday, winning their first Division 1AA game with a final score of 34-5 against the Great Danes of the University of Albany. As the sun peaked through the clouds, so did the fans on the sidelines and on top of the hill at Grauert Field.

The Red Ruggers were up against some good runners and big players from the Albany team. However, this factor was actually an advantage and disadvantage for the Great Danes as the Red Ruggers played a better strategic game overall. After coming out aggressive, Fairfield finished the half leading 10-0.

“We had a specific game plan and style of play. We wore them down, defended very well, and took our opportunities as we pressured them. The crucial plays of the game were the goal line defense, the great hard hitting tackles, and the outset and our ability to keep our cool despite being down to 14 men,” head coach Marc Downes said.

Compared to last season, there is high intensity in terms of the training and commitment level. According to Vice President Hunter Boesch ’18, who scored on the first try of the game, “Our biggest strength is our fitness. When we step onto the pitch, we may not be the biggest pack, but we definitely are the fittest.”

Sophomore Joaquin Moraiz, Anif McDonald ’16, Christian Wallace ’17 and Justin Paton ’17 also scored on tries throughout the game. As the Red Ruggers dominated in the third and fourth quarters, it made it challenging for the Great Danes to catch up. “For Albany, their defense in the back line was almost non existent, which allowed us to break through the line and move the ball forward,” Wallace said.

Besides the support of the fans, the dedication, tenacity, and bond that the team has is what mainly catalyzed their momentum and contributed to their victory. McDonald, a team captain, said, “The work ethic is key and we are in the gym all the time. We always have to work hard, train hard, eat healthy and stay hydrated since we need to be in the best shape for the team.”

A motto that has helped the team along the way is “B.E.S.T,” which encompasses four mains points: body language, eye contact, speech and tone of voice. “By following these simple things, we all will better ourselves not only on the field and in the gym, but in the classroom and overall, make us become better individuals,” Boesch said.

Now that the team has stepped up to the Division 1AA conference, they will be playing against stronger competition. “We are starting a legacy that the underclassmen will build upon and eventually pass down to future Red Ruggers. We now have the chance to play an elevated level of rugby against more difficult opponents which gives us the opportunity to show just how far we can go with our skill and knowledge,” Wallace said.

The Red Ruggers will travel to take on New England College on Sept. 19 and their next home game will be on Sept. 26 versus the University of Massachusetts.

“The team’s main goal is to compete at every game and position ourselves to become a powerhouse in Division 1,” Downes said.

 

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