Men’s rugby brings strong season to playoffs

SENIOR CODY CLIFFORD PICKS UP the ball in this file photo from a game against Marist College on September 20, 2014.

On Sunday, October 26, Anderson Field played host to the RPI men’s rugby club playoff game on a rainy afternoon. Rensselaer faced off against New Jersey Institute of Technology men’s club rugby team. RPI has pulled off an impressive five win and one loss regular season record. This is even more impressive because last season the team had a one win and five loss record. The Engineers’ only loss of the season came in a close matchup against Vassar College, in which they found themselves on the wrong side of the scoreboard, losing 27-22. The Engineers came out on top of contest 33-7.

Rensselaer started the game with little emotion and vigor, as NJIT scored the first try of the game only seven minutes into the half. The Engineers, recognizing the importance of the game, took the offensive driving on the Highlanders. After being in the 22 meter zone for a little while, senior forward Cody Clifford found the try zone 17:30 into the game. The Engineers found their rhythm for the half, proving their dominance. RPI outplayed NJIT physically, but couldn’t find the try zone for the rest of the half.

Rensselaer made some key substitutions going into the second half, utilizing its large roster and depth. The Highlanders, having a much smaller roster, were forced to keep their exhausted players in the game. RPI controlled this part of the game, having fresh players allowed for them to physically overwhelm the tired NJIT team. With 43:32 left in the game, sophomore Brady Condrin broke through the Highlanders’ defense and scored the second try of the game. NJIT couldn’t produce an offensive attack as RPI constantly drove on its defense. After being in the try zone for a little while, Condrin found the try zone again, and after missing the extra point, RPI lead 19-7. Then 65:12 into the game, junior Jordan Fisher kicked the ball down field past the NJIT defenders. He went on to race past all of the Highlanders players to find the ball in the try zone. Rensselaer added insult to injury as Fisher scored for the second time giving RPI a 33-7.

RPI advances to face Fairfield University next Sunday, November 2, in Fairfield, Connecticut. The Stags haven’t lost so far this season in eight games. With a win, the Engineers will move on to the Division Two conference finals on Sunday, November 9.