Riding win streak, men’s rugby set to face Carleton

By Patrick Murphy

On Saturday afternoon at 2:30, the Macalester men’s rugby team will take to the field in the stadium to square off against rival Carleton. With the last win against Carleton coming on Apr. 25, 2009, the Scots are determined to get the best of their rivals. Over the past four years, the rugby team has been improving steadily (2-3 in 2009, 4-6 in 2010 and 5-5 in 2011). Currently at 3-2 on the 2012 spring season, the team likely has its best chance in recent years of beating the Scarlet Knights. “Beating Carleton would take everybody playing smart rugby and hustling,” said captain Robert Strickling ’12. “Carleton is a smaller team, but they are a faster team, and in the past they have shown more heart than we have. We need to want it more than them on Saturday.” As a three-year captain, Strickling has been involved in the turnaround of the rugby program firsthand. The team once struggled to field a full roster, but Strickling puts the current number of active members of the team at 17-18–a robust roster compared to years past. “I think a lot of it comes down to getting guys involved with the team more as freshman and sophomores, and having them stick with the team and grow with us for multiple seasons,” said Strickling. “In the past, some of our better players have been guys that came to the sport late in college as juniors and seniors, and they don’t have as much time to learn the game and improve.” The increased level of commitment has been evident in the results for the Scots this spring. The team suffered an early setback with a pair of heartbreaking losses to start the season. In past years, a slow start would have likely derailed the entire spring campaign, but this year has been a different story–and a different team. The Scots have rebounded in a big way–rattling off three straight wins in the past two weeks. It would appear that if there were ever a time to beat Carleton, this is it. “For me, beating Carleton for the first time since my freshman year would feel like such validation of the work the team has been putting in the last couple years,” said Strickling. “Especially for the guys who have been showing up everyday to practice, ready to work. Strickling highlighted center Tyler Hill ’14 and scrum half John Aziz ’14 as two of the players who have played critical roles in the team’s success this spring. “I’m the only senior on the team this year, which means there are a whole bunch of other guys that are going to be able to stay with the team and continue to take the program forward,” said Strickling. “I fully expect them to continue to improve and take the next step in terms of starting to consistently finish above .500 next year. I just want to start that trend right now with a win over Carleton.” refresh –>