Following a 3-5 showing in 2016, the Brock men’s rugby team — set to open their season at home against Waterloo on September 3 — has been hard at work to reverse that record.
During the off-season, there were many positives for head coach Philip Sullivan, “the buy in to the off-season training program … a lot of guys finishing first and second year have made a big jump.” Sullivan also praised the work and guidance of Steve Lidstone (Manager of Sport Performance) and Dave Scott-McDowell (Lead Coach), noting that, “This is the first time the team was able to train in the off-season as a team, following a program specifically designed for them.” When asked if the Sports Performance Centre had an impact on this years recruiting, Sullivan said he felt so, “It was the highlight of any tour.”
Looking at the roster for this season, Sullivan mentioned a few veteran players that he expects to see great things from, “In particular, Jeremy Brownridge (captain), Jackson Amos, who was an OUA All-Star last season, Chris Gladney, who missed the entire 2016 season due to injury, and Wade Little, who will be moving to a new position (flanker to inside centre).” When asked about Chris Gladney’s impact after being injured this past season, Sullivan said, “[I] anticipate him being able to be the same player and leader he was before.”
Sullivan also noted that though it is hard for first year players to make an impact right away, the team had a strong year in recruiting. Carter Bondy, a first year recruit who played on the provincial U18 and U19 teams, is one who Sullivan says may have the best chance to impact the team of the young players. Whether or not he would have a chance to move into a starting role and see consistent play time? “Probably, but we have to see how other recruits look during training camp.”
Sullivan says that the league “[is] always competitive,” noting that Queen’s and Guelph have consistently competed for the gold medal the past several years. He expects McMaster to have a strong team as well, though Brock is not scheduled to play against them during the regular season. Brock will travel to Guelph to take on the Gryphons, defending OUA champions, on September 23, and will play host to the OUA runner-up and 2016 regular season champion Queen’s on October 6.
The Badgers game on September 3 is the first of four games that will be played in St. Catharines this season.