The UMW men’s rugby team, Mother’s Rugby, defeated the Welsh Engineers and the James River Rugby Club in two scrimmages at the Battleground Athletic Complex on Saturday, Aug. 27. These were Mother’s Rugby’s preseason matches with all athletes playing in the two 50-minute games.
In the first game against the Welsh Royal Engineers, the first squad scored three tries by sophomores Sebastian Scheffermann, Villame Tamani and Connor Foster. Scheffermann managed to convert on all three tries, helping Mother’s Rugby defeat the touring Welsh team, 21 to 14.
Scheffermann, a business major, described the first half of the match as “Very strong. The intensity was there and we followed our game structure.”
This match was the new Director of rugby Gearoid Dunbar’s second game with the Mother’s team.
“The first half was brilliant,” Dunbar said. “We played rugby the way we wanted to play and we dominated them in everything except the scrum but near the end of the first half we had the scrum dominate.”
After a break in play, Mother’s Rugby entered the second game against James River, a Division II men’s club in Richmond, Va. The second team fought hard and scored four tries, bringing the Mother’s team to another win, 24-12. The points were scored by senior Danny Bullock and freshmen Nick Ball, Nick White and Max McCluster.
“A lot of our new guys played in that game so it’s the first time we’re really getting to see them playing and having a bit of fun,” Dunbar said about the second match. “They played really well against an older side with a bit more experience, so the boys had to try to force them to play it the way they wanted to play, and I think by the end of it they had them in their pocket.”
The team has a strong base of returners coming back to Fredericksburg and a large group of 21 freshmen that are contributing to the squad’s structure and performance, headed by Dunbar.
“He has been amazing,” Waddington said about Dunbar. “Pushing us in training, keeping us in check and making sure we get everything done. Like he says himself, ‘he’ll either be your enemy or your best friend.’ He’s there for all of us and wants us to do well; he’s been great at pushing us to the next level.”
Mother’s Rugby has joined the newly formed Division I-A East Conference beginning this season where they will be facing schools like Army West Point, ranked fourth nationally, the Naval Academy and Penn State, as well as other big names such as Virginia Tech and Notre Dame.
“I’ll be looking forward to playing Penn State,” said Scheffermann. “It’s one of our last games this season, so, yeah, I’m most excited for that just because that was the first game I played when I was a freshman here.”
Moving up into this more competitive division means a more challenging training regime for the rugby players. The team participated in a strict program at the beginning of the summer from Nathan Schwarts, assistant strength and conditioning coach, that emphasized increasing strength, speed and agility on the turf.
“Training has been grueling and with lots of conditioning,” said Joey Welch, a senior education major. “But we’re making great strides as a team.”
The Mother’s rugby squad is splitting up for their next match, as some will be heading to West Virginia to compete in a Division I scrimmage against Wheeling University, while some will stay at the Battlefield to play against Radford University on Sept. 10, both at 11 a.m.