The Guilford Rugby blog has become dusty with the cobwebs of neglect and the stale breath of Chris Allman. Not to worry, though, here is an update for all ye faithful (aka those who read this blog aka a few current and former Guilford rugby players) on the last month of activity and the road ahead.
After losing to the old-boys in the 2nd Annual Guilford Rugby Alumni Game in late September, GCRFC hosted a reformed UNC Charlotte team looking for revenge after losing here in Greensboro one year ago. Revenge, so it went, was readily available in easy-to-swallow pill form as the 49's rolled up to Greensboro, rolled over Guilford, and rolled back to Charlotte with only a few speed bumps (most of them being literal road traffic calming devices and only a few being those metaphorical hindrances on the pitch). As the game was a month ago, I have chosen to forget the final score, however it is clear that Charlotte had a lot and Guilford had a little (5 to be exact, coming in the form of a late second half dignity try by junior transfer Sean McNally, aka "the new David", getting his much-deserved first points of the season).
If there was anything to glean from the game it is the play of senior scrumhalf Kevin Smithey who made his debut in the 9 shirt (transitioning from his 3-year worn number 7) and proved not only his aptitude at organizing both the piggies and the princesses but also fed McNally clean ball all day (on and off the pitch), earning Smithey his second man-of-the-match award of the season. Also noteworthy for Guilford is the continued commitment of the rookie players who again came out to play despite an apparent lack of knowledge in the game. But do not discredit these boys, they're learning more every week and have definitely begun to show a retention of knowledge on the basic rules and skills of the greatest sport on Earth. Credit must also be given to UNC Charlotte. The boys we met in this game, sporting slick new black jerseys, were not only generally nice but they also showed some real talent and their drift offense had Guilford players thumbing their own buttholes while Charlotte scored time and time again.
Since that game Guilford has begun an effort to return to the basics of rugby that enabled us to go undefeated last fall and place 2nd in the matrix this past spring: endurance and defense. With junior prop Randall Aldana making the move to inside center (?!?) and senior Bryce Bjornson and rookie Lester back at the outside center position, Guilford woeful backline play since the season opener is poised for a turnaround as senior Joel Popkin and junior Harry Anthony will be able to command the back-three with rookie talents Z Klonowski and Luke Walsh-Mellett. Another bit of good news is the possible return this weekend of fullback Max George who has been out for 6 weeks after dislocating his shoulder in the first five minutes of the Elon game. Today he received a hesitant vote of confidence from the doctor, who says he will be full strength in three weeks time but is probably okay to start contact, which is by any means good enough for him.
All of this is to say that Guilford is feeling confident going into this weekend's North Carolina Rugby State Tournament in Danville, VA (??). On Saturday at 11:30 Guilford will take on crosstown rivals UNCG with the winner playing the winner of UNCC-Duke for the Sunday championship.