The 2013-2014 campaign has gotten off to a solid start for the Chattanooga Rugby Club. Currently sitting atop the True South DII league with a 7-0 record, Chattanooga is in prime position to return to the playoffs.
It was not long ago, however, that the team boasted a losing record. First year coach, Jeff Bollig, indicated that the clubs recent success can be attributed to the teams work ethic and continuity.
"We have had a core group of about 10 players that have been playing together for five or six years. Every member of the team works extremely hard at practice developing good rugby decision making skills." Bollig stressed the importance of every player, regardless of position, being able to do everything. "Whether it is a forward making a skip back or a back clearing out a ruck, we emphasize creating complete rugby players."
As a result of the team philosophy, the team is cohesive.
"Everybody is a good teammate and everybody goes out there together," said Bollig. "There is a tremendous team atmosphere."
Bollig attributes much of the teams cohesion to former coach, Kirk Neubauer. Chattanooga has attempted to create complete rugby players, holding each person accountable for their own performance as well as the teams.
"The recent success has been created as a result of Kirk’s good foundation," Bollig added.
While the team stresses unity and that it takes 15 quality rugby players to win a match, Bollig praised several members of his squad for their individual performances.
No. 8 Pat Flynn and Prop Ethan Winel lead a strong pack of forwards. Known for their big hits and bruising runs, these two individuals bring tenacity to the Chattanooga pack.
Clayton Parr and Sam Koebley complement the two heavy hitters.
"They do all the little things you need. They run good support lines, clean out rucks and take balls out of the air."
In addition to praising members of his pack, Bollig credited much of the team's success to two backs. Captain, Clay Hicks, and Flyhalf, Luke Collins, have help progress the teams offense over the last few years. Bollig added that Daniel Tardy is Chattanooga's workhorse, having played nearly every minute of every game this season.
Individual performances and team unity have certainly played a large role in the teams success this year; however, Bollig believes that does not paint the whole picture.
"We have a great support system. From the executive board, fundraising and sponsorship, the team has great resources," And they also have a team mom. Bollig called Angie Kasey a saint for her dedication to the program.
With a strong infrastructure, great team camaraderie and a group of talented players, the Chattanooga Rugby Club is poised to make a deep run in the division two club rugby playoffs.