Men’s rugby season all about chemistry

By James Cantagallo

The men’s rugby team finished its fall season with a disappointing 2-4-1 record.

The Huskies knew it would be a rebuilding year after losing many seniors from the 2012 squad, which went 7-1 and finished ranked in the top 10. This year’s team had its rough patches, but at the end of the fall season NIU was in a better place than it was at the start of the season.

“We came a long way from the beginning,” said team captain Osama Shayeb. “That is for sure. We came with a lot of people in different positions than they were used to and a lot of rookies that had never played college rugby starting every game of the season. I am really proud of the guys all together and I think we did well as a transition year.”

Something a team cannot prepare for is injuries, and the Huskies were plagued with injuries all season long.

“We definitely had to fight all season,” said rugby president Pat Caulfield. “We had quite a few key injuries”

While injuries were a negative, they led to more young players getting on the field. They gained experience that can only be achieved through playing in meaningful games.

“Our guys definitely fought through adversity the whole season,” Caulfield said. “The majority of the team is made up of freshmen or new players, so it took a while to get everyone meshing on the field.”

Shayeb believes the experience gained by the rookies will lead to better success in the future.

“Hopefully next year we can win a few more games,” Shayeb said. “Take it to them a little bit more, have a little more structure, and these rookies are going to be more experienced so they can carry out a better platform.”

Throughout the season the Huskies lacked chemistry, but it turned out to be the biggest positive that came out of the season.

“The chemistry was a big thing in the end,” Shayeb said. “We went from no chemistry at all, playing with players we never played with, to really coming together throughout the year.”

Now the fall season is over, NIU will head into the offseason looking to improve physically to get ready for the MAC seven-on-seven playoffs in the spring.

“We are definitely going to be working on our fitness still,” Caulfield said.

“Guys will take about a week off to rest some injuries. We really want to build some strength and get some size. We have some guys that are definitely looking forward to getting more fit and getting a little bit more size on them in the offseason.”