An unusual site took place on Friday, Feb. 21, at Packer Hall — a classroom full of students dressed for practice were instead sitting, looking attentively at a Power Point presentation in the front of the room. The unusual rugby practice was being led by the Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) training manager, Colin Moran.
Moran oversees all of the coaches within the IRFU and is an expert in the mindset and strategies of a successful rugby team. Moran is currently visiting the east coast from Ireland and stopped by the College while on his way to a rugby seminar in Philadelphia.
“To be able to bring someone from another country — it is a great opportunity to hear from someone who really knows what they are doing,” said Deborah Simpson, the head of intramurals and club sports at the College.
After the presentation, the men’s and women’s rugby teams — which have been around for 16 and 15 years, respectively — were able to move down to the gymnasium and run drills designed by Moran. The players tested some of the offensive strategies Moran discussed in his presentation, under his guidance.
“He’s a professional,” Rani Shah said. “Rugby is not a common sport (in the U.S.) and he knows so many tips and tricks that we wouldn’t find here.”
Shah has been playing rugby for a year and a half and stressed the value of Moran’s skills and drills for her team.
“I can speak for hours on what benefits there are to playing rugby,” said Joe Maringola, the College’s rugby coach. “The most important one I see at the college level is learning to become accountable to your team. There are personal achievements — scoring a try or making a big hit — but by the second or third season someone plays, they start to understand all those little achievements serve to further the goals of the bigger program.”
In the gym, Moran called players to the center of the room to simulate possible defensive lineups an opposing team may use.
“Colin encourages players to make decisions for themselves, something I have been preaching for a long time,” Maringola said. “It allows for a more open, free-flowing and fun game.”
Moran explained that American rugby is technically sound and everyone is fit, but his goal while he is here is to provide a different way of looking at the game. The players were instructed to create space using new techniques, with Moran explaining players should aim to achieve the desired result instead of executing a technique properly.
“Sometimes, it’s about doing the right thing instead of doing it the right way,” Moran said.
The men’s rugby team’s first game is just two weeks away, and the team plans to use the lessons learned during Moran’s clinic during the upcoming season.
“We have to take what was shown to us and put it into play,” Nick Gardner said. “We can combine today’s lesson with what coach Maringola teaches us and watch everything come to fruition.”