(Photo courtesy: GJ Hildebrandt)


The Ohio State University Men’s Rugby Club has started off where they left off last season (2015 BTU Runners-up) – with rapid notice that they deserve mention in any conversation reference Rugby play.

In 2015 The Buckeyes ended the season with an appearance in the BTU 15’s Championship on November 14 in Rockford, Illinois with a loss to the University of Indiana 34-14; certainly a disappointment to a club that showed heart and determination all year.

In the season’s end graduated captain and 8-man Santino Cua, the 2014 Big 10 forward of the year along with All Big 10 honors – repeating these honors in 2015. With his loss, by all means, are big shoes to fill.

Names to know for this season:

Derek Hess is a true freshman starting at hooker for the Buckeyes who came via Hudson High School in Ohio and was a member of the Ohio Celts All-Star team prior to his arrival in Columbus.

Spencer Kruger is another true freshman from John Hersey HS in Arlington Heights, IL. He will most likely be at flanker for the Buckeyes down the road but seemingly is needed at prop for the moment – being big enough for the position.

Senior lock Jack Bengel was named an honorable mention All-American by USA Rugby and All-Big 10 last year.

Brandon Heidinger and Danny Peyton are both guys that converted from centers to flankers.

Matt Stauder looks to be the Buckeyes best forward. He is very good defensively, in the air in lineouts, and with the ball in his hands in the open field – scoring the first try of the season against University of Cincinnati on September 9th, 2016.

And, of course, there is Taylor Hurff, a four year starter, moving from fly half to scrumhalf halfway through his college career. The New Jersey kid finished 2nd in the league in points last year as is the Buckeyes goal kicker. He was All-Big 10 in 2015.

Mike Matthews is in his second year as a starter and will be in his first year as the Buckeye’s fly half (basically the team’s QB – if a need for comparison is spinning for you).

Jamie Barlow is a senior transfer from Wheeling Jesuit University who is originally from Upper Arlington. He’s a strong kid with or without the ball. Definite all league candidate this year and a welcomed addition.

Aaron Thomas is the Buckeye’s Captain and has played wing and inside center for OSU but will move this year to outside center, giving the Buckeyes a great tandem with Barlow. He’d score three times against Cincinnati (09/09/16).

JoJo Eramo, my-my, what can we say about JoJo? He is the most electric open field player in the Big 10. He led the entire Big Ten last year in tries and was third in total points. At right wing he is a threat to score from anywhere on the field. He romped against UC (09/09/16) with five scores and one against Bowling Green on 09/10/16. JoJo was All-Big 10 twice and a state champion running back for Archbishop Moeller in Cincinnati.

Jack Walsh is on the left wing and indeed a candidate for notice. He is a steady player with tremendous heart.

Ronan Forestal is in his second year at OSU. He is also a returning All-Big 10 player.

The strength of this team is without question the backs, coached by Ron Bowers and Wes Campbell. Hurff/Matthews/Barlow/Thomas/Walsh/Eramo/Forestal is as good of a combination as you’ll find in the Big 10. The Buckeyes major questions can be found among the forwards, who are coached by Tom Rooney, Aaron Weir and Mike Ziegler. Having to convert two centers to flankers and a flanker to prop is never good. But the Buckeyes are counting on some help from true freshman prop David Laney out of St. Xavier in Cincinnati – though this may be a while, as he is recovering from surgery this past summer.

The Buckeyes opened their season at Fred Beekman Park (Home) against the University of Cincinnati with a crushing defeat of the Bearcats 59-5.
The Buckeyes scored eleven tries in their opener for the 2016 campaign. JoJo Eramo nailed down five, team captain Aaron Thomas had a hat trick, Jack Walsh had a pair and Matt Stauder also added the first try of the match. Taylor Huff converted the first and fifth try in going two for seven on the night.

Cincinnati added the final try of the night.

The next weekend (this past – 09/10/16) the Buckeyes travelled to Cleveland’s St. Edward’s where they played Bowling Green. It wouldn’t be as pro missing. The Buckeyes led BG 16-14 at the half but couldn’t get anything going in the second, dropping match 26-16.

Ultimately, in the final analysis of things, the loss isn’t detrimental, as D1aRugby in-league play is the factoring to advancing nationally. Though the loss to BG only amounts to in-state bragging rights, it is the 2nd year in a row BG defeated the Buckeyes.

For those among you who are now climbing aboard the fantastic ride known as Rugby after the Olympics and Nate Ebner’s outstanding performance for the world to witness, I will give you a position lineup that serves purpose on the scoring: Memorize it. There will be a test next week ….(just teasing).

Position names:

1 and 3 = prop
2 = hooker
4 & 5 = lock
6 & 7 = flanker
8 = 8-man
9 = scrumhalf
10 = fly-half
11 & 14 = wings
12 = inside center
13 = outside center
15 = fullback

Here is also your 2016 The Ohio State University Men’s Rugby Roster:

1 Kevin Fessenmeyer
2 Derek Hess
3 Spencer Krueger
4 Brett Dixon
5 Jack Bengel
6 Brandon Heidinger
7 Danny Peyton
8 Matt Stauder
9 Taylor Hurff
10 Mike Mathews
11 Jack Walsh
12 Jamie Barlow
13 Aaron Thomas
14 JoJo Eramo
15 Ronan Forrestal
16 Andrew Kyser
17 John Pacelli
18 Nate Grose
19 Nate Heister
20 Vince Hahn
21 Cody Sheets
22 Kevin Stefancin

And, of course, what all this be without a 2016 schedule:

8/27: (H) Intrasquad scrimmage
9/2: (H) University of Cincinnati Rugby Football Club (W – 59-5)
9/10: (A) BGSU Men’s Rugby (in Cleveland at St. Ed’s) (L – 26-16)
9/17: (H) University of Pittsburgh Rugby Football Club (50th Anniversary)
9/24: (H) Purdue Men’s Rugby
10/1: (H) University of Iowa Men’s Rugby Fan Site
10/8: (A) Illinois Men’s Rugby
10/15: (A) Rugby Football Club (University of Wisconsin)
10/22: (A) Michigan State University Rugby Football Club
10/29: (H) University of Michigan Rugby Football Club
11/5: Off (Chicago for Ireland/New Zealand)
11/11: Big Ten Rugby Championships (TBD)

Current D1A Rugby Top 20 – Week 2:

1) Life (1)
2) Cal (2)
3) Saint Mary’s (3)
4) Penn State (4)
5) Arkansas State (5)
6) Indiana (7)
7) Utah (6)
8) Kutztown (10)
9) UCLA (9)
10) Army (8)
11) Davenport (11)
12) Air Force (12)
13) Lindenewood (14)
14) Arizona (13)
15) Arizona State (15)
16) Cal Poly (17)
17) San Diego (16)
18) LSU (19)
19) Ohio State (18)
20) Colorado State (20)