The Ohio State University Men’s Rugby Team is looking to maintain some form of stability in a rapidly declining start in Big Ten Play.
The Buckeyes opened up Big Ten Play on September 30th in Bloomington against the Hoosiers of Indiana – a powerhouse nationally, as well as defending Big Ten Champions, in a loss that was battled hard. There would be 17 score changes within the match, the Buckeyes taking the lead six times. Andrew Baldado would be the shining moment for the Buckeyes here with a total of 12 points scored. Matthew Stauder, Nathaniel Taylor, and Jamie Barlow would all have tries as well. But the effort fell short.
The following week, October 7th, in Madison, the Buckeyes would meet up with another Big Ten Powerhouse, Wisconsin – falling 18-14. In this uninspired match, though close, the Buckeyes would never have the lead.
It is all a far cry from how the Scarlet and Gray started off the 2017 season with five consecutive victories. Opening up against the University of Pittsburgh with a strong win 48-5; followed by a nice, even sweet win, against Bowling Green (a team that seemingly has their way with the Buckeyes in the past) 27-0. Oklahoma would be next in a 46-10 win (too bad this wasn’t the Football score with the Buckeyes enjoying the same sweet end that the Rugby team did). Notre Dame came up next. They too fell short of upending the Buckeyes march. The Buckeyes would win in a close one 19-18. Then there was Cincinnati. The Buckeyes won here too – 27-10.
So, on paper it all appears that the Buckeyes have a 5-2 overall record and are 0-2 in the conference. But this isn’t the case. Matches out of conference are … well, in the shortest way to define this reality is to say “pre-season’. In Rugby, only Conference play counts.
So that means the Buckeyes are 0-2.
After Illinois will come Indiana again, followed by TTUN, and then the Badgers again.
The schedule does not look good to be playing without the zip and smack-mouth style that has arisen with the Buckeyes Rugby teams of the last handful of years.
The Big Ten prior to the season beginning managed a new approach of scheduling. They were lining the tougher teams against one another in order to allow the weaker teams a shot at some respectability and opportunity to plays in the League Championship. This allows teams such as Iowa, Purdue, Northwestern, *ichigan State, and Minnesota better shots at reaching a moment of glory within their program.
Arguably, we could chastise this approach with the better two teams should be in the championship game – period. But, and I confess, I can see the need to preserve the Rugby Programs at these schools. To do this a taste of victory must see its way up the ladder. The Buckeyes have a strong Rugby Program that will not be abandoned by the fan base because they do not reach the finals. Ultimately, they have to win against these teams, no matter what. It does not matter if it is within the schedule itself, or in the final. The Buckeyes know Rugby. They must step it up. And that process begins this Saturday against the Illini of Illinois, followed by the big one, the Nations #7 team Indiana in a rematch. It can be done folks.
Now don’t let me get ahead of myself. Illinois is first. And they must be taken seriously.
See you there at 1:00 p.m. at Fred Beekman Park.
Oh, don’t allow me to end without adding – though the Buckeyes are “technically” 0-2, they are 20th in the Nation. See, the voters know the Program is solid.