A year ago, nobody would have guessed that the men's rugby team would be seeded first in the New England Rugby Football Union (NERFU).

But after a 3-0 victory over Colby last week, the team is approaching its final weekend in good position.

Bowdoin now stands atop the leader boards with 15 points, undefeated in five games. The closest team, Colby, is 2-3 with nine points.

The Polar Bears hope to cap off the season with another victory.

It would be the team's first undefeated season in a decade and one of only a handful in the club's 42-year history.

It would have been impossible to predict the men's success based solely on last fall's results. Sporting a 3-5 record, that was average.

But the addition of extra coaching personnel added a stronger emphasis on conditioning and technique, turning heads in the NERFU.

Coaches Justin Moss, Mark Gartside, Richard Hyde, Dave Miller, and Rick Scala have turned the team from a small group of guys with virtually no rugby experience into a large, formidable squad.

Every fall, the team kicks off a massive recruiting effort in the hope of bolstering full A and B sides.

The number of students that turn out each season fluctuates, but this year, massive interest amongst first-time ruggers boosted the team's total to 49 players.

Captain Ian Brandon '12 said he has noticed a tremendous difference between this year's team and those of the past three years.

The focus on fitness, play calling, technique, and a forward pack that dominates every scrum has made the team a force to be reckoned with.

This is due in large part to the coaches, including the newest ones.

Coach Mark Gartside has years of international rugby experience, having played abroad in the United Kingdom and in Switzerland. He also captained the rugby team at Oxford University.

Coach Justin Moss began playing as a teenager and later competed at Dickinson College.

The team seems to have internalized the adage that although offense puts points on the board, it's the defense that wins games. The team prides itself on its hard-nosed defense and scrumming abilities.

"The forward pack is probably the smallest in the league, but also the fastest and hardest-hitting," said Brandon.

"Our defense has been the strongest point of our game play, and our scrum and lineouts have also been dominant, with us winning all of ours and most of the other teams' set pieces," he added.

Moss also noted the team's great defensive efforts.

"Nobody has really threatened us," he said, "and our defense has been great. We have had 30 to 40 minutes of good offense. The challenge this week is putting together set pieces, offense and defense."

Miller was quick to point out the leadership displayed by this year's corps of seniors.

"They accepted responsibility for last year's poor season and committed themselves to working hard in the off-season," he said.

The team's success this year is in large part due to its experience.

Besides Brandon, there are six seniors who have played rugby for four years: Senior backs Taylor Vozniak, Connor Gallagher, Tommy Cabrera, Angel Cobos, Carlos Morla, and captain Bobby Shaw hold six of the starting 15 positions.

Bowdoin plays at home tomorrow at 1 p.m. against the University of Maine-Farmington.

After that, the team will take on Tufts next weekend in the NERFU playoffs.