Written By Christian Randell ’14
The Binghamton Devils took the field this weekend for the first round of the Empire Rugby Conference 7s play at SUNY Buffalo to less than desired results. A combination of loss of experience from the lineups of recent years paired with the concurrent youth of the current squad (traveling with 8 sophomores compared to 1 junior & 4 seniors) made for a long but necessary and productive day for BURFC. The day saw the Devils in contest against Iona College, University of Buffalo, Buffalo State as well as Rutgers and emerge with a record of 0-3-1.
The day started with a match against a physical Iona squad that saw Binghamton plagued with defensive inexperience and questionable penalties. With both teams working the ball side to side, TJ Coates (sophomore) broke a huge run downfield after running straight over the first tackler. After being tackled by the run-over Iona player with a club to the side of the face, the retaliation received the yellow card as well and both teams had to work 6-6. After Iona put 7 on the board, the yellow card was once again shown to the Devils when Bryan Shankman (sophomore) suplexed an Iona runner to close the half. Besides the beautiful single man effort from Chris Mallinson (sophomore) that resulted in the Devils only 7 points, the 5 on 6 shortage was too much for the Devils to overcome and the match closed at 19-7.
After a 3 match break, Binghamton next drew the well-experienced and explosive Buffalo Bulls rugby team that knew how to exploit the inexperienced Devils defensive line. Bright spots for BURFC were hard to come by but an increasingly cohesive offense began to emerge with longer runs and better ball movement gave hope for better results for further in the day. A halftime deficit of 17-0 came to end up at 26-5 with Binghamton looking forward to taking the cohesiveness into the rest of the day.
Only having the duration of a single match to gather themselves, the Devils took the field against Buffalo State looking to progress in their on field chemistry. The game started with a Binghamton offense that appeared to be operating with increased confidence as a break from Max Khallilulah (Senior) for 40 meters put the first points of the game up for Binghamton. Nick Palazzolo (Senior) added a try of his own as well as Sean Peters (sophomore) to put the Devils up 17-7 to close the half. A bench clearing halftime substitution for the burdened legs of the starting line once again exposed the inexperience of the Devils and untimely knocks and failure of hands saw the lead slip away from the Devils into a closing tie of 24-24 and a frustrated squad.
Although the score did not show, the day concluded with a 12-7 loss to Rutgers but the most encouraging match of the tournament. Overall better ball movement and a tighter defensive line served to shut down the Rutgers offense for a majority of the game but untimely knocks and unforced errors on the Devils part deep in the Rutgers territory served to quell the threat of a Devils victory.
Overall this weekend only served to drive home the point that Binghamton Rugby already knew; there’s still much work to be done. A wildly youthful squad came in with limited experience through on-the-job training for 4 matches, they came to develop a cohesiveness and a sense of urgency that will carry them through the rest of the Spring season and into their own practices this summer.
The Devils will continue their journey this weekend at the ERC 7s series at Rutgers.