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Penn State Rugby Wrap Up and Spring Preview

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Another Penn State Rugby season has come and gone — and the head coaches of both PSU Men’s and Women’s Rugby are reflecting on the season.

Justin Hundley, the Head Coach for Men’s Rugby, is proud of his team’s growth this fall.

“I felt that we grew as a team off the field and on it,” he said. “We learned a lot from all the matches [and] we got a chance to see some of the young players really contribute at all levels…it’s really fun to see the level of competition happening in practice every day."

As for the goal of winning the Rugby East, the team did not make it this year. They did, however, take second place “to a very good Army team,” Hundley explained.

“We will look to build off our successes and short falls from this season as we build to the Spring Playoffs,” he said. “Our strength for the team is our attacking power. We are able to score a lot of points and our forwards and backs play very nicely together with a great skill set. Our defense is an area that we will take some time to work on in the off-season.”

As for Women’s Rugby, the women wrapped up a fall season with only two losses yet remained undefeated in the Big 10 championships for their seventh year in a row.

“A huge highlight [from fall] and congratulations [is] to Azniv Nalbandian, senior Tight head prop, who was selected for the USA Women’s National Team Autumn internationals,” Kate Daley, PSU Women’s Rugby Head Coach said. Daley also went on tour with the Women’s National Team this fall as an assistant coach.

Daley finds that the strengths and weaknesses of her team this fall both have to do with levels of experience.

“While the forwards skew older in years and the backs younger, the rugby experience is the opposite with the backs having more rugby experience,” she explained.  “This lends to a very interesting dynamic and a certain level of unpredictability and creativity on the field.”

Both Hundley and Daley are excited for what the spring season has to offer.

“Our vision for PSU Rugby in the spring is to put ourselves in the best position possible to win a national championship. It is going to require a lot of work both on and off the field so that we are hitting on all the right cylinders at exactly the right time,” Hundley said. “We will have to wait and see what the outcome of the Western conferences are before we know what the playoff picture is, but I can assure we are doing everything we can to be the best team we can be.”

Daley sees spring 2019 as an interesting season due to the DI Elite championship moving up a month earlier to Sunday, April 7thand preceded by the national semi-final on March 24th .

“This is a departure from years past when semis and championships were played back to back days the first weekend in May,” she explained. “This will elongate the spring season, allowing the team to compete in several tournaments in April as a lead up to the USA Rugby’s National Championships and CRC in May.”