Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Findlay Rugby Looks Towards 2014 and Beyond

The Findlay SCARS are a developing team in Northwest Ohio. Though they are not in the limelight with the high-division teams, they go through some of the same woes that they do and have the same lofty goal and expectations for every player in the upcoming season.

In 2013 Findlay saw little success, managing to take only a single win during the Fall season. According to Jim Akroyd, a new player-coach, this has more to do with new competition cropping up in their small town than having a lack of talent among their ranks.

“Our club has been through a transitional period over the past few years with the establishment of a rival club in our home town,” Akroyd said. “In many ways we are trying to set the foundation for the future of Rugby in Findlay Ohio.”

The rival club Akroyd is talking about is the Black Swamp Mercenaries. Founded in 2012, the Mercenaries operate less than three miles away from the SCARS and are providing an attractive alternative to potential players. Akroyd and the SCARS hope what they offer will make them stand out against their in-town rivals and attract better, quality players in the future.

“The fundamental priority we have set out is to develop rugby players, as opposed to just people who play rugby,” Akroyd said. “That means that fitness, physical skills and, just as importantly, mental fitness are the foundations for our development for the future.”

Akroyd and the SCARS plan to take their improved rugby lifestyle pays dividends off the field as well. Many rugby teams, especially those in smaller markets, have the image of beer-swilling goons out to make trouble and a group you generally don’t want to be involved with. While improving their record, the SCARS plan to improve their image as well.

“We are involving the team in the local schools and community as a whole to improve the image of Rugby so that our club will continue to grow and develop new players so that we can advance up the divisions in the years to come,” Akroyd said.

This lifestyle-driven approach is already attracting players to the SCARS. According to Akroyd, there are young players champing at the bit to apply the skills they have learned in the Summer to their games in the Fall. The SCARS aren’t banking on new young talent, though. Recently, some older players with a bit more experience have joined the team as well.

“We have also had a fellow Englishman join us, with a wealth of experience playing in one of the heartlands of English Rugby, while he is working here in Findlay” Akroyd said. “With his and my experience of playing Rugby back in England and the continued support of our veteran ex-coach, our objectives are pretty straightforward. We want to improve from game to game; to learn from our mistakes; to earn respect as a team and to strive for respect from each other as we develop leaders on the field.”

Some players Akroyd thinks will really make an impact on the games this coming season are Hooker Carl Bowers Jr., Kicker Levi Fennell and Wing Brock Wilson; so, with potential impact players all over the field, Findlay has a good base on which to build a solid team and successful season.

The Findlay SCARS kick off their Fall in August with the rest of Ohio’s rugby teams. Though they have a lot of work to do, the SCARS plan to take 2014 as one step towards a long-term goal of bringing quality men’s rugby to Northwest Ohio.

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