King’s Men’s Rugby prepare for title defense

King's Men's Rugby prepare for title defense

On the first of November, Halifax and the neighbouring campuses of King’s and Dalhousie, met their first snow. By mid afternoon several inches had accumulated across the lawns and sidewalks. Most students had either headed home for the day or taken refuge in the library, Wardroom, gymnasium, or another cozy campus nook. While most of us sipped coffee and hot chocolate and stared fixedly out frosted windows at the picturesque weather, the King’s Men’s Rugby team chose to train. Ankle deep in fresh powder, Head Coach Geno Carew and his lean roster of Blue Devils took to Wickwire Field to prepare for their upcoming championship match for the Rugby Nova Scotia title.

The King’s 2022-23 Men’s Rugby Team, RNS and Maritime Champions

This matter-of-fact approach has characterized the UKC Men’s Rugby season completely. Inclement weather? They’re practicing. Two road games in 24 hours? They’re playing. Now, with snow on the ground and fields hardening with frost, they’re on the cusp of a championship repeat.

While this was not the fairytale 10-0 season of 2022-23 where the Kingsmen ran away with the league to deliver both the Wood Cup (RNS Trophy) and the Maritime Championship to King’s for the first time in a decade, reaching the championship for the second year running demonstrates the tenacity of the King’s players Geno Carew and co. have brought into the fold.

Fifteen seniors graduated from last year’s squad and the roster has endured some undeniably hefty lumps. Recording only one win in the month of September following a four-pointer loss to Acadia in September and a substantial loss to Dalhousie in the Dal-King’s 100th year anniversary match, gave the Kingsmen a steep learning curve.

October brought better fortune. A pair of wins against Cape Breton, a road win at St. Francis Xavier and a semi-final home win against the aforementioned X-Men took the Blue Devils to 4-1 in the month, launching them back into the finals. Combined with some luck on the other side of the playoff bracket, with the previously undefeated Dal Tigers losing to the CBU Capers in the semi-finals, the UKC Men head into the championship as the high seed.

“We set the tone last year and the culture has carried over,” says second year co-captain Max Solano. “It’s been a big turnaround with all the seniors leaving, but luckily we’ve had a great group of young guys join this season and our returning players have kept building on our progress from last year. We’re as competitive as ever.”

Should the Blue Devils prevail, they will not only retain the Wood Cup and the Nova Scotia title, but also advance to the Maritime Championship to face the winner of the New Brunswick playoff. The RNS Final is set for 4 p.m., Saturday November 4, at Grave Oakley Field in Halifax.

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