The Fairfield men’s rugby team showed absolutely no mercy as they dominated the Siena Saints 102-17 in their first Division 2 quarterfinal game.

Heading into the game, Fairfield, also known as the Red Ruggers, had brought a 7-0 record to the field. First in their division, Fairfield currently leads the entire Tri-State Conference in wins and leads the conference posting 465 points. Even beyond the Tri-State Conference, the Red Ruggers are currently ranked fifth in the entire Division 2. Although they are ranked fifth, the team will use the upcoming playoff games to further impose their dominance in the national league.

“We’ve got nationals, we want to be national champions and this will all feel a lot better when we are ranked number one,” said Head Coach Marc Downes.

As the game began, the Saints struggled to get any offense off Fairfield. The Red Ruggers were able to score 30 points before the Saints were finally able to post three points for their team after a penalty kick. At the end of the first half, Fairfield had led 43-3.

After seeing such success in their current season, it was no surprise that the team would stay ahead, but the intensity that the Red Ruggers brought to the first half continued well into the second half. Led by Captain Anif McDonald ‘16, the team was ahead 55-3 with less than 20 minutes left in the half. The Saints were finally able to get seven more points off the Stags about 30 minutes into the game, making the score 67-10.

Unlike other teams in the league, the Red Ruggers have the depth that consistently puts them ahead. Downes added that his team is led by everyone, including the freshmen.

“Our captain Ryan Forgione ‘15 is a great leader and captain, and we have Anif and Alex Cucchi ‘15 leading from the front, and we’ve got the new, young fellows that are doing great,” said Downes. “There’s 15 leaders out there.”

Ahead by more than 50 points, the leaders of the field continued to keep their team ahead. With about 10 minutes left, Fairfield led 81-10. They finished off the game by defeating the Saints 102-17.

“We weren’t expecting Siena to be as competitive, but then again you never want to underestimate anyone,” said McDonald. “We came out strong and we ended even stronger.”

Although the team has been a dominant force in the Tri-State Conference before, the Red Ruggers haven’t posed a threat to the national league in years. According to McDonald, the team owes their success to Downes and Ben Kelley, who were both given the position of coaches this season.

Downes, who has been involved with the game of rugby at both the national and international level, motivates the team. He encourages the team to attend practice and wake up early three times a week for CrossFit training, a new facet of the rugby program.

Kelley, an expert in CrossFit training, devotes his time to the team both on and off the field. Kelley, who owns the BK Athletics Inc. in downtown Fairfield, has both the men and women’s rugby teams training with him three times a week during the mornings. Both McDonald and Downes added that the CrossFit training gives their team the little bit of something extra they need to become champions.

“We just won 102-17 and I think we had about 60 or 70 points during the second half so it’s all about the endurance. It’s all about that second wind, it’s all about what we can do when your backs are against the wall, when you’re tired and how you play under pressure,” said McDonald. “That’s what the CrossFit does for us.”

Practicing three times a week in the morning and an additional three to four times a week on the field, the Red Ruggers are hoping that they will get the championship they have been working for. The team will look to crown themselves as conference champions before they move on to walk away as the national champions. The Red Ruggers are looking to get the championship for the oldest members of the team.

“There’s something about this team,” said McDonald. “We have a lot of appreciation for the seniors, we don’t want to let them down, we don’t want to let our coaches down, there’s a lot of camaraderie and community on this team.”

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