BOULDER, Colo. – The Army Black Knights surprised many when they won the Rugby East Championship last season, and now are set for a run at a repeat with new head coach at the helm. Matt Sherman was announced as the first full-time Rugby coach in school history in early August.
Sherman will kick off his coaching tenure when his No. 5 Black Knights take on the Buffalo Bulls at 1 p.m. ET at the Anderson Rugby Complex in West Point, NY. The game will be the first league play for both sides this season.
Army West Point returns 10 of their top 15 from last year, including sophomore wing David Huff, who led the team with 11 tries during the fall. However, they do lose senior captain and 2014 Rugby East Player of the Year, Callum McGee, but hope that the 11 returning starters will fill the void left by the second team All-American.
“By all accounts Collum was a very influential player and leader,” said Sherman. “However, we expect new players and leaders to rise to fill the void in their own manner, and I think that process has already been underway. We have two strong captains in Donny Goff and Jake Banarhall, as well as a resilient senior class determined to lead, push and drive this team to their best level.”
On the other side of the pitch, Buffalo is coming off a 0-6 record in 2014, a rough season that included a 73-12 loss to Army. They do have promising players to help the team along. Ike Onwukanjo returns after spending the summer working with the Nigerian national team, who are trying to qualify for the Rio Olympics. They also welcome Sankara Daly, an experienced transfer student from Trinidad and Tobago.
Buffalo has a big task in taking on the defending East champions in their first league match, and Army is looking to hone in on their fundamentals.
“We’re starting to get to how we do things together as a team, but at this point we’re primarily focused on the basics done well,” Sherman says.