GVSU rugby loses first home game 41-17 to Ferris

GVL/ Hannah Zajac-- Grand Valley State Universty wins against Bethel College on Saturday 14 Oct 2017.

Hannah Zajac

GVL/ Hannah Zajac– Grand Valley State Universty wins against Bethel College on Saturday 14 Oct 2017.

Louis Ricard

The Grand Valley State men’s rugby team hosted its first home game of the season against Ferris State, losing 41-17 on Saturday, April 7.

GVSU could not contain FSU’s speedy offense. The Bulldogs looked relentless during the first half, delivering the first punch within just 10 minutes of play and imposing their will in offense against a young GVSU team.

More experienced, more structured and more aggressive, FSU kept taking advantage of GVSU’s inexperience. That youth is something GVSU has not encountered in a long time but that turned out to be a tough break for the team last fall as more than 10 seniors took off their jerseys for the last time.

“I wouldn’t call this a rebuilding season,” said captain Matt Patton. “We are a young team, but we know where we need to go, and we know what we need to do to get there.”

This loss is uncharacteristic for any GVSU rugby team, but it served as a teaching moment for most.

The main lesson learned: There is no place for individuality in this sport. FSU scored on elaborated team plays and beautiful ball movement, whereas GVSU took advantage of individual plays to get a couple breakaways, including two tries from senior Trevor Langeland.

GVSU missed more tackles than they made, giving FSU the opportunity to recycle the ball and spread the field, something the Lakers usually do to their opponents.

Not this time.

“GVSU is not a flashy team,” Patton said. “We do simple things; we do them right. We just need to hammer that home and play GV rugby.”

In the second half, GVSU came back stronger, bringing more physicality on the field, but so did FSU.

The Bulldogs took over and sailed to victory with four more tries in the second half.

Ultimately, the Lakers will have to be patient if they want to be successful. The main focus is to get everyone up to speed on how to play GVSU rugby, Patton said.

Mitch Severson, one of the team leaders, came into this game with a lot of issues that he addressed with his team the week leading up to it. Low numbers, low intensity and, most of all, lack of discipline are issues Severson wanted fixed.

“At the end of the day, it’s rugby and we always have to keep fighting,” Severson said. “I think we just need to be patient, but we’ll get there.”

Severson’s teammates came wanting to win, but not as much as FSU did.

The Lakers will need to go back to simpler ways to play the game, something their coach John Mullett has always preached. However, Mullett has not been with the team this offseason, and he was not in attendance last Saturday.

According to the team’s vice president, Campbell Gunst, GVSU will find its true identity once Mullet comes back and gets involved once again. Heading into his 21st year of coaching GVSU, Mullett will be a difference-maker and the enforcer this team needs to take its game to the next level.

In the meantime, the Lakers will have to learn how to play together and become a unit, something Patton thinks they’re capable of doing.