By Kathlyn Craigie

Special to The Denisonian

On Saturday, Sept. 19, the men’s rugby team hosted Wittenberg University at Granville Middle School. After a long 80 minutes, with many injuries and substitutes, the Big Red fell to Wittenberg 50-0.

There was a large crowd to support the men’s team, including most of Denison’s women’s rugby team due to Hiram College forfeiting their game.

The team was missing their coach, because he was out of town for a family obligation.

“The way the role was filled was by our President Ian Weijer and captains on the field. It forced us to come together as a team and solve our own problems instead of having the objective voice our coach has,” said the club’s public relations chair, Paul Haddad ’18.

Rugby games are split into two 40 minute halves and within the first few minutes Wittenberg scored a try, making the score 7-0 right off the bat.

Saturday’s game was sloppy on both sides and as a result there were multiple injuries on both teams that caused pauses to the game. Two yellow cards were given to Wittenberg players. One Wittenberg player was given a yellow card for lifting up Haddad and slamming him to the ground.

The second yellow card was given to the Tigers for high tackling Will Tennille ’18.

Denison’s defense, including Nicolas Valdiviezo ’18, tried to stop the Tigers from scoring but as the first half went on Wittenberg could not be stopped, and the score at half time was 28-0, Wittenberg.

Due to exhaustion and injuries, at the start of the second half many new players for the Big Red were put in the game.

“Rugby is a very physical and brutal sport, our team can definitely attest to that, it definitely has a huge impact on our performance when some our of true athletes have to sit out due to an injury,” said Christian Fritz-Claus ’18, who plays flyhalf and winger.

Members of the Big Red’s defense, Cameron Young ’17, Fritz-Klaus and Valdiviezo, along with others, tried to stop Wittenberg’s players from scoring, but to no avail.

The club’s vice president, Jack Laraway ’18, who plays flanker, said that there are about 10-15 new players and there are a few reasons why their record is 0-2 so far.

“We have problems with commitment, we have a lot of new faces and as a whole we don’t have extensive knowledge of the game,” Laraway said.

“We have only had two games and they have been against hard teams.”

Fritz-Klaus believes the team has a lot of potential to be successful this season even with the large amount of new players.

“We had a lot of new and very talented players come out to fill the shoes of the past graduating class. Each practice we improve little by little and soon we shall be a force to be reckoned with,” Fritz-Klaus said.

Although the game against Wittenberg was not the outcome that Denison had hoped for, the Big Red played well at certain times.

“This past match we did a great job of pressuring the ball carrier, which caused our opponents to make mistakes,” Fritz-Klaus said.

This game can be used as a learning experience and shows the team what they need to work on.

Laraway believes this game illustrates what the team needs to work on.

“In this game we played sloppy but improved towards the end and we didn’t give up. We need to improve on our fundamentals, communication, form tackling and overall knowledge of the game,” Laraway said.

Barkin Cihanli ’18 plays hooker and also thinks the team is lacking communication during the game.

“While running into the defense we are leaving our men alone to get tackled by the other team so we lose the ball easily. We are making stupid mistakes and causing easy penalties and we aren’t playing smart enough,” Cihanli said.

Haddad plays the eight man position and said that the games they have lost are their own fault.

“We were hard hitting and we came up strong a lot we just kept hurting ourselves with penalties, specifically being offsides a lot,” Haddad said.

“We could have stuck to our assignments stayed home because they were a big kicking team and the backs should have stayed flat on defense.”

“We have a very diverse team and our style of play is very unique, which I love. Through repetition and consistency we shall overcome all of our obstacles,” Fritz- Klaus said.

Laraway, Haddad and Cihanli are all looking forward to playing Kenyon again.

“I am looking forward to playing Kenyon because I got injured in the first half against them last year and would like some redemption,” Haddad said.

The men’s team plays on Ohio Wesleyan University’s turf next Sept. 26 at 1:00 p.m.