The men’s rugby team’s (0–6) season came to an end on Saturday with a 17–12 loss against Colby College. Under the leadership of new Head Coach Gareth Roberts, who was hired in July, the team hopes to recover from a losing season and continue to grow.
According to Masmo Miyakawa ’24, the recent match against Colby showed how much the team has improved throughout the year. In its October 7 match against Colby, Bowdoin lost 12–47.
“We improved dramatically over the semester, [you can tell] just by looking at the scores.… I’m very proud of this great improvement because no one expected it,” Miyakawa said.
Matches against Colby also tend to be more physical than matches versus others of the Polar Bears’ competitors.
“There’s a very aggressive rivalry between [Colby and Bowdoin,]” Souleman Toure ’23 said. “The nature of our matches against them is always very chippy … a lot of it feels very personal.”
Having Roberts at the helm of the club was an adjustment for the team, but captain Coltrane Joseph ’23 is thrilled to have him at the College.
“[Roberts] did a really good job and brought a lot of energy back into the team,” Joseph said.
Miyakawa added that Roberts has been very communicative with the players, often sending them videos to watch or plays to review even on their days off.
“You can tell [Roberts] cares a lot about the sport, and I think everyone is looking forward to playing with him more,” Miyakawa said.
Heading into the offseason, the team wants to focus on improving its physicality.
“We tend to be the smaller team physically. I think a lot of other teams feel free to step on us, so we want [to focus on] giving them a battle,” Saul Cuevas-Landeros ’23 said.
The Polar Bears hope to hone in on their individual skills in order to become a more cohesive unit. This season, the team incorporated watching film into their practice routine, which helped its players identify their personal strengths and weaknesses.
“In our initial games this season, we started learning specific plays and specific drills catered to those plays,” Miyakawa said. “I feel like individually everyone knows what they are good at and what they could work on.”
Toure would also like to see more collaboration with the women’s rugby team, as he thinks the men’s club can learn from the women’s experience and talent.
Joseph said that this season, the club was able to recruit a good amount of new players and introduce them to the sport. This was a feat he was particularly proud of, given that the team was only able to play a shortened season last year. The team now has about forty five players on its roster.
“Since we’re a club sport, we don’t recruit athletes.… I know [having enough players] is always a worry,” Joseph said. “When [the current senior class leaves], I think the club is in a really good place.”
Despite its record, Toure believes that the team has a lot to be proud of.
“Rugby can be a sport that’s character building, but I think this season was character revealing for us,” Toure said. “We have a large number of seniors on the team.… Every game, every practice, they put their bodies on the line and come back hungry for every opponent. Even though [we didn’t win], it was beautiful to see the amount of fire [that] people had.”
The team will hit the pitch again in the spring with shortened seven versus seven matches.