BY RYAN HELD
The Franciscan University Barons’ rugby team played a hard-fought game in Sunday’s 11th Annual Robert D’Anniballe Rugby Ruckus and came away with a win over Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP).
The Barons started quickly when just minutes into the game, first-year player Mark Allen was successful in a conversion attempt putting the Barons ahead by three.
A few minutes later, Jimmy Keuber scored a try from three yards out. Allen completed the conversion attempt boosting Franciscan’s lead to 10-0.
About midway through the first half the rains started to fall dramatically shifting the flow of the game. With the field becoming wetter and the ball becoming rather slippery, both teams found it hard to maintain possession.
As the half was winding down, so was the rain. IUP started to see a little more of the ball and managed to get the ball into Franciscan territory. With five minutes left in the half, IUP saw themselves in a scoring position but a penalty sent them in the other direction.
Just before the end of the half, IUP once again found themselves in scoring position and this time managed to punch in a try after a strong charge into the Franciscan defense. The conversion was successful bringing them within three points.
The second half began with the Barons looking to extend their lead. Just eight minutes in the Barons had a scoring chance after a penalty, but Allen’s conversion attempt was unsuccessful.
What started as a Franciscan attempt to control the game turned into a fumble-happy affair with the ball staying mostly on IUP’s side of the field.
As the half played out there were many scrums, rucks and line-outs. The strength of the Barons seemed to give them an advantage in these physical exchanges.
As the game came to a close the score remained unaltered from the start of the half bringing an end to a two-game skid for the Barons in Ruckus play.
“The key today was our passion,” said Franciscan’s head coach Chris Courtnell. “To kick the season off with the Ruckus and with a win, particularly those first ten minutes, that’s what this game is all about.”
Due to his strong play Jason Luizi was named the “man of the match.”
Franciscan plays again next Saturday against Geneva College.