Men’s Rugby Out to Make a Statement in 2011

Chris Landers, Sports Editor

The Billygoats Gruff kicked off their 2011 season this past Saturday with a home game against Denison University. The Gruffs battled hard through the rain, but it wasn’t enough, as they would eventually fall 7–13.

First-year flanker Shonari Edwards scored the lone try for the Gruffs, who played a mix of veterans and underclassmen in their opening contest. The team, which disbanded for over 10 years until it was re-formed in 2006, has gone a long way toward establishing itself in the Ohio Rugby Union.

“We have gone from being a team that is constantly struggling to fill a roster to being in a position where we have an enormous amount of options in terms of personnel,” team president Roger Kligerman, a senior, said. “We have both veterans and rookies showing up on a daily basis, ready to put in work and improve.”

For the most part, the Gruffs were pleased with how they competed in their first game. They hit well and played solid, physical rugby, announcing their presence as a force in the region for years to come.

“We hadn’t gotten a lot of hitting in during practice, but we really came out fearless and showed no mercy,” Kilgerman said. “There was some rust, but as any rugby player will tell you, blood and sweat shakes right off.”

The team will be led this year by a mix of rookie talents and seasoned veterans. Edwards will be the key newcomer, with junior outside back Joe Dilworth and senior prop forward Dharum Khalsa providing key experience.

The goals for the Gruffs have definitely shifted. No longer is simply fielding a competent team good enough — Oberlin takes the pitch to win and win big, and it’s clear there’s a new sport on campus for students to get behind.

“We are really looking to have a game that is as smooth as butter. We want to go out to the pitch and show people that we are serious,” Kilgerman said.

Next up on the schedule is a game at Earlham College this Saturday at 1 p.m.