Men’s rugby completed their season this weekend by competing in the Beast of the East Collegiate Rugby Tournament in Portsmouth, RI. Saturday’s opening round brackets had Sacred Heart matched up against Worcester Polytechnic Institute and Roger Williams University.
The Xmen’s first match was against WPI on Saturday. It was the first matchup for the 2 teams. Sacred Heart came out strong, maintaining possession in WPI territory for the majority of the first half. Junior Ellis Badger was able to get the first try to Sacred Heart and sparked the offense to going on a run and come away with the win 50-0.
The second match of the day pitted SHU against defending tournament champions Roger Williams University. In last year’s tournament, RWU took out SHU in the quarterfinals, so the Xmen were looking to avenge the loss. The game quickly became a defensive battle, with both teams forcing turnovers and holding the other around midfield. Late in the first half, the Xmen committed a penalty allowing RWU to kick for points, making the score 3-0. At the end of the first half, it appeared Junior Jordan Velez put SHU on the board, but the try was called held up going into halftime. SHU opened the second half with renewed resolve. Junior captain Joe Cutrone touched down what proved to be the game winning try and SHU was able to maintain defensive pressure for a 5-3 win. This was the first time in history the Xmen finished day 1 of the tournament 2-0 and earned the #1 seed going into the cup championship bracket on Sunday.
The quarterfinal against SUNY Geneseo did not go as planned for the Xmen as they went down a couple of scores early. Down in the second half, Senior Matt Calton was able to find a hole in the defense and run the ball to the try zone to give SHU their first lead of the game with 8 minutes remaining. While they maintained possession the majority of the game, Geneseo forced some costly turnovers and ended the Xmen’s season 32-24.
The X-Men Rugby Football Club had their most successful season in the team’s 24 year history. In their record setting season, the X-Men were undefeated through the regular season and conference championship run, finishing 9-1. After winning the conference title, the X-Men received their highest ranking of the season (#12) and qualified for their first ever USA Rugby Men’s Division II College National Championship, where their only loss of the season came to eventual national runner up Furman University. Over the course of the conference season, SHU outscored their opponents 487-197, putting up at least 4 tries in every match. They held 7 teams below 20 points and went on a 5 week streak without allowing a single point in the second half. Individually, 3 seniors were named All-Conference players; Chris Coyne (prop), Jason Libertelli (lock), and Matt Calton (scrumhalf). 4 Xmen were named to the Goff Rugby Report Top 50 Forwards and Backs in Division II Rugby for the fall 2016 season; Chris Coyne (prop), Kenny Ekert (lock), Matt Calton (scrumhalf), and Dan Prinz (outside center).