Rugby Catches Fourth Consecutive Claret Mug Trophy

Men%E2%80%99s+rugby+keeps+the+streak+alive+with+the+team%E2%80%99s+impressive+performance+this+past+weekend+at+Academic+Field.+%E2%80%9CSo+many+guys+stepped+up%2C%E2%80%9D+Junior+Mike+Rasmussen+said%2C+hopeful+of+a+strong+year+to+come.

Men’s rugby keeps the streak alive with the team’s impressive performance this past weekend at Academic Field. “So many guys stepped up,” Junior Mike Rasmussen said, hopeful of a strong year to come.

Gideon Hamot, Maroon-News Staff

The Colgate men’s rugby team defeated Cornell for the fourth straight year on Saturday, September 9, taking a 40-5 win on Academy Field to retain the Claret Mug trophy. It was the team’s first outing of the season, marking its first competition as a member of D1-A, the highest division of collegiate rugby in the nation. The team was led by junior Ben Moore who scored two tries while junior Billy Bingo, sophomore Pete Bertone and junior Adrian Heath all were able to also find the try zone. Sophomore Cris Kusner added five extra points to the scoring as well. What made the performance all the more impressive was the Colgate ruggers were without both of their captains, junior Mike Rasmussen and senior Clay McKee, as well as first-year Ewan Ferguson, a former member of Singapore’s U-19 team. 

“It was great for me to see that even though we were out, so many guys stepped up. We have so much depth and we have a lot of guys who are hungry and wanted to play,” Rasmussen said.

“Although it hurts not having those three on the pitch, our training philosophy allows us to have another student-athlete prepared to step in these types of situations. When you are having to rely heavily on first-year players it can  be difficult, but they have done a tremendous job preparing to play these past couple of weeks. We have a very athletic group of first-years and I look forward to working with each of them. The desire to keep the program moving forward and the pride of so many student-athletes throughout our 50 year history is stronger than ever,” Coach David Chapman said.

Five first-year players saw the field as substitutes in the second half as Jack Johnson, Drew Jimenez, Junaid Mahmood, James Nash and Ben Pelino all proved they were capable of playing with the more experienced players.

“We had some flashes from Jack Johnson and Junaid [Mahmood]; all the first-years showed great potential and I want to get them integrated as fast as possible,” said Rasmussen. 

The victory was not only significant as the team looks to find their footing in a new division, but also as it helped the school secure the Claret Mug for a fourth straight season, leaving the seniors undefeated against the Cornell Big Red.

“I think it goes to show we have a winning culture here. It really shows the strength of our program and how we’ve continuously improved over the past couple years. We’ve created a winning culture where we are expected to dominate teams outside of our conference. Coach Chapman is one of the most dedicated coaches I’ve ever had. Having him out there creating our practices, going over film, I think his dedication carries over to the team. He leads by example, and our program has improved tremendously. We are approaching being a serious D1-A contender and I think we have shot at winning the conference,” Rasmussen said. 

Following this victory, the team has just a week before they the travel to Binghamton University to take on the Bearcats.

“Binghamton won the conference last year and tends to have some really big guys. If we make our tackles and play within our structure, I don’t see any reason why we can’t win the game.” Rasmussen said.

“Our focus should remain on our own development as we are a relatively a young team. If we continue to concentrate on our individual roles, supporting each other and executing our patterns we will be just fine. There are some very strong teams in the Liberty Conference, but we can only control what we do and how we play,” Chapman said.

Contact Gideon Hamot at [email protected]