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Head Coach Robert Brohman is considering splitting the squad into two teams next year
The fledgling Ryerson Rams rugby team capped off its inaugural season in the Scholars League with a 22-20 win over York University this month, to finish its season with 4-2 record.
“It was a wildly successful year,” said head coach Robert Brohman. “This season probably exceeded our expectations. I’m extremely happy with the culture that started to develop around the team…and the number of wins we got was tremendous.”
Over the course of the season, Ryerson defeated the Queen’s University 4s, Royal Military College and York University, but was defeated by the Queen’s University 3s and Carleton University.
Brohman praised the new team’s leadership and their quick development of chemistry over just a few short months.
“The on-field leadership group was outstanding and the off-field leadership group really created a positive culture, making sure everybody was included,” he said.
Brohman also emphasized the interest garnered by the team in its first season. He says prior to the season, he worried whether they would have enough players for the team. However, once training camp started, that concern was allayed.
The team was co-founded by Ian Custadillo and Rajiv Bahadur, two second-year Ryerson students, who wondered why Ryerson didn’t have a team of its own.
After a year of organizing, the team hit the field this season as part of the Scholars League, a six-team developmental league under Rugby Ontario, which has no playoff or championship format.
Bahadur admits that the pair didn’t have the highest expectations for the team heading into the season.
“We always had an optimistic look because we wanted it to succeed, but it was a bit overwhelming right at the start,” Bahadur said. “We were hoping to just be even…no more losses than wins, but the team exceeded that.”
Next up for the Rams is a 10-month off-season to improve. Brohman says five players are leaving the team, with a possibility for that number to increase. However, the Rams are not worried about finding replacements.
Teams are limited to 35 squad players as a league rule. Custadillo says there will be competition for those places next year.
“There’s a lot of talent that hasn’t been touched yet,” Custadillo said. “There were maybe 10 to 15 players asking if they could join the team. So next year, the talent’s going to be there.”
Brohman also says he wants to get the total number of players up to at least 50, so Ryerson may enter two teams in the Scholars League next season.
“Having a first and second team will be fantastic because that means new players coming into the program will have somewhere to get minutes,” Brohman said. “And we want to let new students coming out of high school know that there’s a competitive club that’s established and had success this year and they’re welcome to come in and join us.”
On top of growing the team, Brohman says this off-season is crucial for keeping the team fit and ready for next year’s play.
“We’re working on getting fitness testing in April, and then again in August during training camp,” Brohman said. “And also getting workout programs to the players so that they can get into the weight room on their own and also having a running program for them.”
The Rams are still looking towards their ultimate goal of reaching varsity status. Their aim is to play in the Ontario University Athletics’ (OUA) men’s rugby league, which features 10 teams, including rivals like the University of Toronto Varsity Blues and the Queen’s Gaels.
But now, with a positive winning season under their belt, Custadillo says the future looks more optimistic. He says the team is anticipating a possible exhibition match against the University of Toronto Varsity Blues’ team before next season.
“This off-season is going to be important,” Custadillo said. “If a lot of the guys are hitting the gym and if we recruit the players we need, I’m pretty confident in next season.”