Beautiful North Georgia Mountains, a 6,000 square foot cabin, and a weekend of rugby. That is what is in store this August for the University of Georgia Rugby Football Club as they prepare for their first preseason camp. While COVD-19 has left many aspects of this upcoming season up in the air, the team will be ready to compete either way. Requiring all attending players to have a COVID-test on file two weeks before the camp, coaches and officers are making sure to minimize the spread so that players can focus strictly on team bonding and getting a head start on fitness
Details on the Camp
The team will be traveling to Ellijay, Georgia, on August 14th to kickstart the 2020 15’s season with a weekend of training and team activities. Coach Cameron DiLoreto remarks how important it is to focus on team cohesion after the 7’s season was cut short by the pandemic. He notes that - with every position being up for grabs and multiple highly-recruited freshmen coming in - he is “really looking forward to getting that competition started and hoping that pushes everyone to work harder than they have had to in the past.” The weekend will have a couple of dedicated training sessions - ranging from getting a feel for the team’s current fitness levels to positional technique work - but a main aspect of this camp is team cohesion.
From a player perspective, it seems that current players are looking at this preseason camp as a means of focusing on chemistry and getting in the right mindset for a streamlined 15’s season due to COVID-19. Vice Captain Fran Buchek notes that “In rugby, the team has to work as a unit. The relationship on and off the field between everyone in the team is essential for this. That’s why we had the idea of having a training camp before our preseason started in order to strengthen relationships and get the team even closer than before.” Buchek notes that there will be high levels of internal competition this year, and cites that this, coupled with the excellent coaching staff, are positioning the team to improve on and off the field as they work towards the goal of winning a championship.
Captain Michael Curran also mentions that, after losing the latter half of the 7’s season to COVID-19, players are more than ready to head to the pitch again. He cites Coach DiLoreto’s thorough recruiting efforts as a driving reason for hosting a preseason camp with an emphasis on team bonding. With so many new faces coming in, the team needs to fasttrack its way through the chemistry building stage to be able to better focus on skill training.
Moreover, Curran focuses on the need for this camp amid growing concerns with how COVID-19 might affect the university’s fall semester. He notes that “we’ve scheduled matches earlier than normal and added in 5 extra out of conference matches this semester.” However, with this preseason camp, “We are going to be prepared to hit the ground running when school starts and make this one of the best seasons we have had at UGA.” Ultimately, both captains are confident that, not only is this camp necessary for team bonding, but that it will serve as a good jolt to turn players’ attention to incoming matches.
Lastly, incoming freshman players that were part of Coach DiLoreto’s 2020 recruiting class have high hopes for this season, and for the camp. Freshman Davis Moore discussed that, although the first year of college can typically be intimidating, he is excited to add rugby into the mix. Noting his excitement for the high levels of competition and the brotherhood of the team, Moore states: “ I’m looking forward to the preseason camp because I have no idea what to expect and I know it will be pretty interesting. We’ll see what this season has in store for us!”
Looking Forward to Next Season
With both coaching staff and players looking forward to how the camp will kickstart the season, coupled with the continuing concerns over COVID-19, there is a high level of interest in this 15’s season. UGA RFC will start their season at home on August 29th with the A-Side playing against Furman and the B-Side playing against Appalachian State University.