Rugby finishes up unusually short season with 1-2 record

Written By Ben Powell, For The Globe

Photo by Megan Gloeckler
The Point Park rugby team runs the ball in one of only three games that they played this season at Highmark Stadium.

The Point Park Bison’s Rugby Club went 1-2 to end a fall season plagued with game cancellations in a rebuilding season after the graduation of eight seniors.

The Bisons lost a lot of experienced veterans, and came into this year looking for new players to recruit to try and fill the gap they left. 

They managed to recruit eight new players and put the training of these young players as a big priority for the team to ensure its success in the coming seasons.

“Last year we had eight seniors graduate and most were starters,” student coach Blake Fabianich said. “We wanted to get all the new players comfortable playing and build up our overall team chemistry.” 

Despite finding young recruits to take the place of the graduated seniors, the Bisons ran into trouble as other teams found themselves in similar situations. 

Four schools were unable to get a full roster of students and had to forfeit the season. This turned their eight-team conference into a four-team conference, which left each team with only three games each. This left teams with little time to develop throughout the season.

“It affected our momentum for sure,” junior captain Zackery Thrasher said. “It never really let us get in a rhythm as a team and it ultimately made our new players develop slower because we weren’t playing games every week.”

Despite these complications, the Bisons finished third in their conference, finding themselves one game away from the playoffs. 

The season took a rocky start, as the Bisons faced off against the undefeated Grove City College, where they took a huge loss scoring just two tries coming from juniors Thrasher and RJ Halfhill with a final score of 71-10. 

Photo by Megan Gloeckler
A Point Park rugby player attempts to take the ball in to score.

The Bisons redeemed themselves the following week against Penn State Altoona, winning the game 33-25. A try came from junior Aaron Jackson as well as juniors Keith Kostosky and Jared Slattery, who each scored two tries a piece. The win was a big one for the Bisons, who turned things around late in the game to get the win.

“Getting a win over Penn State Altoona was a huge confidence boost for our team,” Fabianich said. “We were down at one point and had a good drive late in the game to score.”

Due to the nature of this short season, this put the Bisons just one win away from the playoffs, leaving the game on Oct. 11 against St. Vincent as the only obstacle left. 

Unfortunately for the Bisons things did not go their way, and they took a 45-5 loss with one try coming from Kostsosky. 

The game was close in the first half with a score of 15-5. Things took a turn for the worse in the second half, as penalties hurt the team and allowed St. Vincent to control the game.

Despite the season’s outcome, the Bisons are very excited for the team’s future. While it may not be noticeable on paper, there were some big takeaways from this season, namely in the grooming of young talent. 

According to Thrasher, the new recruits made huge strides and fit very well in the system the team had instituted in the past.

“I don’t think [the new recruits] changed the way we play,” Thrasher said. “We are a very big team we like to keep it in the pack and just run over the other team and wear them down. We got a lot of new pack guys, so we just had to get them ready which we did and our offense really stayed the same.”

According to Fabianich, the team will be hitting the gym hard this offseason to get ready for the spring season. 

While things may have not gone their way this season, the Bisons are confident things are going to be different in the coming years.

“We did better than a lot of people thought,” Thrasher said. “We are a young team still learning to play together, we will be good in the years to come.”