After a strong 2015-16 campaign which saw Old Blue New York join Life University atop the American Rugby Premiership table, the Old Blue coaching staff and playership look forward to defending their title beginning September 10th
against the Boston Irish Wolfhounds. Old Blue Head Coach and USA Eagle Assistant Coach Marty Veale expects the competitive level of the league to go up a notch or two as the ARP sides absorb some well-seasoned players from ProRugby for the fall season.
Not surprisingly, Old Blue expects its forward pack to be a handful for opposing sides. Returning veterans Mike Brown, Joe Bonardi, Trevor Cassidy, Brandon Crowley, Dave Shotton, Calder Orr, Ulises Kevelier and Quentin Unsworth Will lead a scrum that enjoys grinding it out and bringing the physicality for which the NYC side is known. New additions Gavin D’Amore-Morrison, Dean Muir, Demecus Beach and Dylan Fawsett will bring added depth and experience to an already battle-hardened pack. Filling out the forward picture are newly-capped back-rower Harry Higgins and captain Alex Schwarz. “We’ve got buckets of talent, experience and size in the forwards,” remarked Schwarz. “The fall season will be a great challenge, but I feel like the boys will be up to it. The turnaround from national sevens is tight, so guys have to recharge their batteries and change focus in a hurry. Winning the ARP will not be easy and having a bit more depth should hold us in good stead.”
Players like Dylan Carrion, Jeremy Hanson, Josh Longmore, Rick Kirkland, Connor Wallace-Sims and Mike St. Clair certainly know the challenge of transitioning from sevens to fifteens. As well, Josh Rice will be switching codes back to fifteens after a summer with the New York Knights. As to leadership, the OB backs will look to flyhalf James Bird, also a newly capped USA Eagle, to set the pattern and focus of the Old Blue attack. “We’ll certainly not lack for fitness” says Bird. “We have some really talented attackers and I hope to find ways to exploit their skills.” In that effort, longtime Old Blue player and captain, Dom Wareing, will take the reigns as the fifteens backs coach. Dom honed his coaching skills in leading the Old Blue and Northeast ODA sevens sides in 2015 and again in 2016. He’ll have a few more weapons this fall with the return of Derek Lipscomb from Blackheath RFC in the UK and Sean McGarrity, a newcomer to the Old Blue 2016 sevens side.
“Having been with Old Blue since I arrived in New York in 2008, I feel confident that this side is as strong as any I’ve been a part of” says Wareing. “Competing against crosstown rivals NYAC is always a great challenge, but the Boston clubs bring it as well. The ARP fall season will be tough, but loads of fun as well. Totally looking forward to it.”