The Dawgs opened their 2023 15s season this past weekend with a bout against Lander at Silverbacks Park. The friendly format was three thirty-minute periods with rolling subs throughout the entire game. While it was a friendly, both teams looked to use this game as an opportunity to set the tone for themselves and send a message to their perspective conference opponents.
The scoring started early by the captain and fullback Connor Westbrook, whose try was shortly followed by winger, Stokes More, and from there it was far from ever stopping. There were many debuts for the UGA back line made this past weekend, but the return of Brian Acklin from a season-long knee injury that was suffered last year proved to be a huge addition. His leadership and veteran experience at the nine cannot be understated as he proved to be a problem for the lander defense, consistently breaking lines and keeping the pace of the offense. Mick Costa facilitated the offense from the ten as the lander struggled to keep up with the pace at which the UGA backs attacked.
The Dawgs domination was not limited to just the backs, because the forwards proved to be a problem in pretty much every aspect. Newly elected forwards caption Jack Madden had his guys dominating every scrum and lineout, something that all of the forwards showed major improvement on compared to last season. The growth and leadership of vet forwards like Jack Madden, Jake Gibson, and Garrett Davis were visible, but rookies Zach "Spoon" Dabney and Ike Edlein deserve to be highlighted for their honor of starting with the forwards in their first match.
There are definitely places to grow, but this team is looking to make some noise in the SCRC this year. UGA Rugby would like to give a huge thanks to all the fans who showed up to Silverbacks Park to support and give thanks to Lander for making their way to Atlanta to play. The Dawgs kick off conference play on the road next weekend at LSU. Make sure to follow UGA Rugby on social media to stay up to date on everything UGA Rugby.