October 1, 2015
In its first road game of the season, the Marshall University men’s rugby team faces Xavier University Saturday.
The match will be the Herd’s final attempt to make a bid for the NCAA Division II playoff.
“We need to win this game,” assistant coach Jason Hayes said. “If we want to compete in the playoffs, we have to win this match.”
Seeking a win for the first time in three games, Hayes said the team’s flankers, who are the men who play on the sides of the field, will have to play a greater role.
“How we address their kicking style is still the biggest problem to overcome,” Hayes said. “We need to get our flankers to pressure the kicker and force him early to either kick or pass. When a team is a kicking team, a key to stopping them is making the guy who is the primary kicker make a decision under duress.”
Hayes said the pressure applied could do wonders for the Herd, as kicking has been an issue for the team this season.
“The ripple effect of just pressuring that kicker will help us greatly,” Hayes said. “If you make him make the wrong decision then that’s great. If you don’t pressure and he makes the right one then they spread the field and beat you with conditioning.”
However, the team has focused on conditioning in its practice as of late.
“We’re hitting the ground, getting up and running in little spurts continuously,” team captain Jake Harter said. “We’ve also been doing 100-yard sprints a lot, so we’ll be ready.”
Saturday’s game begins 1 p.m. at Xavier’s Intermural Field in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Scott Bolger can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.