The Temple and Drexel women's rugby teams are both in rebuilding phases, and that was evident Friday in the first round of the Penn Mutual Collegiate National Rugby Championships at Chester's Talen Energy Stadium.
Both the Owls and Dragons got tough draws in pool play. Drexel went up against two-time champion Life University, Virginia Tech, and Bloomsburg in Pool A. Temple, in Pool D, played Notre Dame, the National Small College Rugby Organization and East Stroudsburg. Both schools lost all three games.
Drexel has only two seniors, and most of the other players are in just the second tournament of their rugby careers. The Dragons were outscored, 148-5, on Friday. That means head coach Amy Cobb has realistic goals.
"We focus on our small objectives," Cobb said. "Before each match, and even at halftime, we pick two or three objectives we want [the players] to improve upon. And if we can improve upon those objectives and those goals, we consider that progress and a win in our book because we're building. We're learning, and we're improving."
Temple has just one senior on its roster, and three other players who hadn't played a game of rugby before March. The Owls program has been in flux recently, and players have doubled as coaches over the last few years. Head coach Justin Muldoon, a 2011 Temple rugby alum, took over as full-time head coach in October 2017. The Owls were outscored on Friday, 90-5.
"Honestly, just introduce [the players] to rugby," Muldoon said of his mission. "I got introduced to rugby when I was at Temple, and it was one of the best decisions of my life. I love introducing new people to the sport I love."
Temple is scheduled to battle Bloomsburg in Saturday's Challenge Cup quarterfinals at 2:40 p.m. Drexel is to play Virginia in another quarterfinal match at 3.
The pool winners for Friday were Life, Lindenwood, Penn State, and NSCRO, with Life poised to three-peat after not allowing a point all day. Life, the winner in Pool A, will play Navy on Saturday at 8:40 a.m.
Penn State, winner of Pool C after also not allowing a point, is to play Boston University, second in Pool B, Saturday at 8:20 a.m.
NSCRO, the only Pool winner to allow a try, is to play Notre Dame in another quarterfinal match on Saturday at 9:05 a.m. It will be a Pool D rematch as NSCRO escaped the Irish with a 15-7 triumph on Friday.