Gruffs Dominate Kenyon in Final Game of the Year

Rose Stoloff

The Billy Goats Gruff, the men’s rugby team, finished their short but successful season with a victory over Kenyon College. Despite a season fraught with difficulty maintaining a full squad, the still continued to improve.

The Gruffs traveled to Gambier, Ohio on Saturday with just 14 players, one fewer than the required 15. Having adequate numbers has been a recurring problem for Oberlin during the less formal spring season. In the spirit of rugby, however, the Gruffs borrowed one of Kenyon’s players and were able to compete.

Capitalizing on their home field advantage, Kenyon began the game on the offensive and scored within the first 10 minutes of the game, but the Gruffs were able to come back and left Kenyon scrambling to recover.

“Our forwards got fired up and started running over them,” said sophomore captain Andrew Follmann. Junior Shonari Edwards, a powerhouse for the Gruffs, scored two tries, pulling the Gruffs ahead of Kenyon.

Follman’s co-captain, senior David Brandt, said the Gruffs’ victory relied on their offense. “Kenyon is a smaller team and it’s very back heavy, so they have a bunch of smaller guys with good ball handling skills,” said Brandt. “But to get the ball out to the backs, the forwards have to ruck over and beat our forwards, so I knew it was going to be a very forward-heavy game.”

Follmann agreed that Kenyon was a stronger team defensively than the Gruffs. “Our backs were weaker than theirs, but that’s mainly because we haven’t been able to practice as backs all season. We haven’t really had enough players to practice as a team.”

Instead, the Gruffs have dedicated their practices to working on and improving their offensive skills, work that paid off in Saturday’s game. “In practice, we’ve been doing basic tackling and basic leading players and drawing defenders — rucking, essentially,” said Follmann. “We exploited the fact that our forwards were a lot bigger and wanted it more. So during the next half an hour we dominated, winning most of the rucks and all of the scrums.”

Senior Matthew Kendrick scored his first career try, and Edwards continued to bring in points for the Gruffs. Oberlin kept their momentum going for the duration of the game, and ended with a 34–10 victory over Kenyon.

This was the third and final game for the Gruffs this season. Oberlin had split its previous contests, falling to Cedarville University, a small Christian university near Dayton, but getting a win over Denison University. “It’s been a hard season,” said Brandt. “We had two coaches who quit, we were short on numbers, we were short on money, but at the end of the day, when we showed up with 15 men and played, we beat the two teams we lost to last semester.”

Next fall, the Gruffs will be focusing more heavily on recruiting players to try and avoid some of the difficulties they faced this season maintaining a full roster.