BY Robbie Finizio
The Sacred Heart Men’s Club Rugby team started their season with a 43-29 victory over the University of Hartford on Sat., Sept. 21.
According to the Sacred Heart Club Sports website, Bryan Calton came up big for the X-Men with three tries and went four for seven on conversions. The remaining tries were scored collectively by senior Kyle Bulkley, junior Ryan Schwab, and freshman Nick Giunta.
“The offense did a great job staying composed and spreading the ball across the field, ” said Bulkley. “The defense did a great job spacing and putting pressure on them, which made it harder for Hartford to stay composed.”
On Sept. 28, the team was shutout in a 43-0 loss to the University of Vermont at Park Avenue Field.
Regardless of the defeat, the X-Men are anything but discouraged, especially Head Coach Dave Lyme. Lyme’s main focus is conditioning his team and making sure their mindset is on getting better as a whole every day of practice.
Their practices consist of not only hard drills and running laps, but also meditation and mind exercises, developing them both physically and mentally.
“I’m not big on wins and losses, I don’t really care about that,” said Lyme. “If we improve every week, every day, then everything will fall into place.”
Unlike most club teams that play at night, the Rugby team practices bright and early at seven in the morning at Puglio Park in Bridgeport, Conn. Senior Dan McCarthy believes this has developed a more committed team.
“It has made us more accountable, and we see that everybody really wants it when they’re getting out of bed at 6:45,” said McCarthy. “It has also made us better students and better overall.”
The team also strives to create a strong sense of chemistry within the team. Lyme said that he tries not to single out players as “breakout players.” Rather, he looks at it from a team aspect, citing that nothing can be done without the overall commitment from the team.
As the new season begins, the team welcomed a new member to the coaching staff. Richard Gasper joins the team as an assistant coach for the upcoming season. Gasper, however, is not a new face to Coach Lyme or the rugby world. According to the Sacred Heart Club Sports website, Gasper played for Lyme’s national championship team and has already coached alongside him at the high school level.
“He [Gasper] is a great coach, very smart, very calm, very relaxed, and gets along with the guys,” said Coach Lyme, “It’s a real honor to get him here.”
The X-Men are excited about the rest of the season, and they know that the hard work at practice and the right mindset will carry over to the playing field. All of these men are dedicated to the sport and will fight for their team until the very last whistle blows.
“We’re a stepping stone for a program that is going to grow to pretty big heights, and these guys that are out here, there are 22 of us, at seven a.m. every morning. These are the 22 guys that will be remembered when this program gets to where it wants to be,” said Brendan Burke.
The team’s next game is on the road on Oct. 12 when they travel to in-state rival, Southern Connecticut State University.