Merlins Face Little Rock Stormers in Arkansas

by | Jan 26, 2018 | D1 Men

Look to Improve in Second D1 Away Game

Continuing their inaugural season in the Red River Conference, Glendale’s Men’s Division I Merlins team travels to Arkansas Saturday to do battle against the Little Rock Stormers. The only team in the conference that calls Arkansas home, the Stormers opened their season with defeat, falling to the Dallas Harlequins 13-32 in Little Rock.

Merlins Rugby

Photo by Seth McConnell

Match preview brought to you by:

Hampton Inn and Suites

Head Coach Luke Gross noted some positive takeaways from the Merlins loss to the Austin Blacks last weekend, points he and the team will continue to finesse during the season: “What we took away from last weekend was that there was never a question of effort or team-first attitude. We’re just a little rusty in our pattern because we’ve only had three weeks of practice. We took away that we’re actually a pretty good team.” Gross added that the Merlins have had to make some personnel changes due to injury, illness, and availability, but as both teams have something to prove in the wake of last week’s defeats, intense competition is expected.

The Merlins team is made up of players with varied levels of rugby experience, and Gross understands that there is a process involved in creating a mature, cohesive, competitive unit: “We have to get our structures right. This week we’re focused on running our pattern correctly and taking advantage offensively what that presents to us. It takes time for players to learn how other people play.”

The Merlins defensive players are leaders on the pitch, hoping to set the tone against the Stormers as they did against Austin. Gross praised the team’s defensive performance last weekend, noting: “Defense leads our team and last weekend we put up a big fence. We did make some mistakes, hence the scoring, but that’s part of the game.” The Merlins are now tasked with bringing that enthusiasm forward into Saturday’s game and beyond. Gross added: “We’re looking forward to Little Rock. They’re a big, aggressive team, and we’re playing at their place. We don’t know what the weather will bring, but we’re looking forward to the challenge.” With nine games remaining in the regular season, there is little doubt that the Merlins, under Gross’s tutelage, will continue to grow as a team.

Glendale’s first home game of the season is March 10th, when the Merlins will face off against the Austin Blacks on Infinity Park’s Turf Field. All Merlins home games will have free admission in 2018.

Traveling Roster

  • Giorgi Tsverava

  • Chris Hathaway

  • Thoms Downey
Marcus Thomas
CJ Schoelch

  • Alex Fitch

  • Lindani Myeni

  • Joe Rusert

  • Dicky Davidson

  • Devin Pearl
Owen Hundt
Wes LaBorde
Dennis Papike
Trevor Wilder
Carlo De Nysschen
Ryan Chavkin
Clint Cook
Nathen Faamatuainu
Zach Redemacher
Irakli Chkhikvabze
Scott Smith
Juta Vakabua
Dave Synnott

Traveling Staff

  • Head Coach: Luke Gross
  • Assistant Coach: Duncan James
  • Trainer: 
Jeff Horgan