If at first, you don’t succeed, try, try again. Rugby puns aside, if you give it your all, play hard, and stick together, you’ll succeed. These were the rules that Siena’s men’s rugby team stuck to throughout this past season, even though it didn’t end in quite the way that they would have wanted to, with a loss to New England University in the first round of the playoffs. Despite leaving the playoffs early, the Saints finished the season second in the NERFU- the New England Rugby Football Union-, with only Amherst College finishing ahead.
What makes a good team is its ability to become a group. What makes a great team is that group’s ability to become a family, a family that everyone can lean on and count on them to carry one another through, and that was exactly what the men’s rugby team was, a family, according to one of the players, Simon Santos.
Siena retooled the team from the bottom up, finding freshmen to fill out its ranks. Along with Head Coach Jaco Visser, as well as fronts coach Patrick Deloughery, backs coach Kevin Quinn, and assistant coach Ted Delaba, Siena finished the regular season with 3 wins, 2 losses, and one tie.
With these new coaches in charge, the Saints deployed a new strategy: kicking for territory- kicking the ball in front of them and then moving around their opponents to get them closer to the goal; taking advantage of their opponents’ missteps to pound them, and their 65-7 win over Union College proves that.
The Saints also learned from their own mistakes: after an opening to the season in which the offense struggled, the Saints trained even harder, working hours each evening, often until past sunset. This determined mindset helped them overcome the repeated injuries that the players had to recover from, time and time and time again.
Santos remarked that, despite their struggles, the team’s ability to adapt on the fly and capacity to use that to overcome was a strength on a team largely made up of first year students. Although Siena didn’t make its way very far past the end of the season this season, when the plans and strategies of play that the coaches put into play this season come to fruition, Siena and the Saints are sure to crush the competition, without question.
The Saints are just, in a way, a microcosm of Siena College as a whole. We work together, we help when we’re called to and even when we’re not, and we keep trying, even when we stumble. If the joke didn’t make sense earlier, a try is the rugby equivalent of a goal. If you try enough, you’re going to win. That’s true in rugby, and it’s even more true in real life.
Although this season didn’t end quite where the Saints would have wanted it to, they’ll be back at it again in the spring, even more determined than before. When the Saints come trying their hardest, there’s nothing that’s going to stand in their way.