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University at Buffalo 2013 Season Preview

University at Buffalo 2013 Season Preview


The University at Buffalo Bulls looks to improve on last year’s 6-4 record and 4th place finish in the Empire Rugby Conference. 2012 was a far improvement for the men in blue from their 1-7 finish in 2011 but not on par with their 7-0 season in 2010 that saw them go to the quarterfinals of the USAR D1 playoffs narrowly losing to Harvard.


Buffalo will be led by a core of returning seniors featuring Jon Kern and Fairport’s Ryan Williams in the tight five and the back row combination of Matt Higman from McQuaid and the explosively exciting Cameron McLaurin from Port Washhington NY. McLaurin earned all ERC hoors last year and touched down 7 times total. In the back division scrum half Sam Kim will be accompanied by veteran center pairing Ryan Szaniszlo and Tyler Norris from Fairport High. Norris lead the team last year in scoring with 8 tries. Also returning in the deep three are fullback Josh Kenny and winger Phil Tuccirone.


The tight five will be bookended by rising juniors Mike Flessa from Kenmore West High School and Alex Buttler from St. Anthony’s on Long Island. Additional Long Island juniors Collin Olander and Bryan Alexander along with Colin Tucker and Dylan Nardin continue to mature as rugby players and have high expectation for the coming season. Additional juniors to watch are the Kenmore West duo of Drew Glover, and Ian Novaksis who bring the aggressive hard hitting style of play that Ken West produces to UB, along with newcomer Tim O’Donnell.

Salvatore Prince and Armando Benetiz are two McQuaid Jesuit sophomores are likely to see playing time this year. Ken West product Matt Webber can slot in at almost any back position and continues to mature. Ryan West, who played his high school rugby in Canada, is a player that will only get better and is a favorite to start on the left wing for the Bulls. The sophomore class is also supplemented by two transfers in Greg Delancy from NYC who is coming over from Buff State and Ike Onwukanjo. Ike is a powerful back row forward from New Rochelle, NY who will be joining the team for pre-season fresh off duty with the Nigeria 7’s squad in England. Also looking to break into the first team are sophomores Mike Caffaro and Bob McIntosh.


The freshman class is led by Kenmore West captain John Grasso and Zach Shapiro from the Syracuse Silverbacks. They are joined by a trio of Fairport starters Colton Kells, Tom Dreitlein, and Jake Leverett. Also Andrew Ren and Joey Guarino from Pittsford Rugby Club are two players that show great promise for the future.

Buffalo open their pre-season camp on August 19th and will hit the ground hard with two matches on the 24th in Toronto renewing their longtime fixture with University of Toronto and the powerful Royal Military College from Kingston, ONT. The Bulls will host Big Ten’s Ohio State on the 31st which will be a huge challenge before the league season kicks off on September 7th in queens against King Point MMA. They host Rutgers on the 14th before their bye. After the break the Bulls visit SUNY Stony Brook then have a three game home stand against Iona and upstate rivals St. Bonaventure and Syracuse University. They finish the league season on the road against SUNY Binghamton, SUNY Brockport and Fordham University.


Head Coach Mike Hodgins said “it’s critical that we get off to a good start with two games before our bye week. Last year we went into our bye week 1-2 with disappointing losses to St. Bonaventure and Iona. We then ran off five wins in a row but were behind in the point’s race all season and could never quite catch up. We had our chances at the end of the year but the loss to Brockport in week 10 ended our playoff run. The beginning of the season and the last 2-3 weeks are going to be the most important part of the year for us. The Empire conference is an extremely competitive environment to play in and we have to be at our best every single week to have any chance to advance”

This will be Hodgins fourth year as head coach at Buffalo. He recently served as head coach of the High School All American Stars & Stripes program in Colorado. He is joined by returning coach and longtime Buffalo Rugby fixture Gerry Wojick. UB Rugby is also very pleased to announce the addition of a new face in the coaching team in UB Alumni Fred Bressette. Fred is no stranger to UB Rugby having previously served as Buffalo’s UB Women’s coach and as an assistant to the Men’s program. It will be great to have Fred’s presence back on the training pitch.

The University at Buffalo is a premier, research-intensive public university dedicated to academic excellence. Our thinking, research, creative activity and people positively affect and change the world. We have almost 29.000 students on our three campuses in Buffalo NY. UB Men’s Rugby plays its home games at Ellicott Complex on the North Campus. For directions visit Buffalo.edu. For information on admission to UB please visit admissions.buffalo.edu/.