Despite setbacks brought by the cold, the Barons rugby team took to the turf against former Franciscan rugby players, winning 14-7 in the alumni match Saturday.
The day dawned sunny but frosty, and both teams met at the Barons’ rugby practice field at 11 a.m. as scheduled. At 11:20, the call was made to move the match to Harding Stadium’s turf field due to the frozen ground on Franciscan University of Steubenville’s campus.
Despite the late notice, several dozen fans joined the carpooling caravan to Big Red, and the bleachers filled with students, alumni and children.
Play finally started at 11:54 a.m. with the current Barons fighting hard for possession. Sophomore outside center Brendan Pedulla scored the first try four minutes into the match. Sophomore flyhalf Rafe Lewis made the conversion kick, bringing the score to 7-0.
Minutes later, senior flanker PJ Ernst scored another try for the Barons. Junior outside center Jake Goduti landed the conversion kick, raising the score to 14-0 at the end of the first 20-minute period.
The 15 alumni players put up a good fight and scored a try in the second period, but they could not take down the student Barons, who won with a final score of 14-7 after 40 minutes of play.
Head coach Jason Adams said, “We need to improve on playing with the ball on the ground, rucking better and defensive alignments, which is part of the course at the start of each season. Players know what we need to focus on over the next couple of weeks, and hopefully we can build on our level of play each week. I am looking to see our younger players step up a little bit to take some pressure off the seniors and create space for offloads and really start to grasp the game of rugby.”
“I am proud of how hard they have worked up to this point with conditioning on their own time and making a commitment to God and each other to improve on themselves,” Adams included.
After the match, current students and alumni met in St. Junìpero Serra Hall for a reception to honor the alumni who came to play the current Barons.
The Barons currently rank second in the country and will head to Moraga, California, in April for the National Small College Rugby Organization Championship.
The Barons look forward to their next 7s match at Wheeling Jesuit on March 21 and their next 15s at Christendom College on March 28.