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Indiana has a winning tradition, and coach Marcus Hurley, a member of the 1998 Indiana team, the only one to ever reach the DI final four, is trying wake up the echoes.
“Our goals are certainly to get back to Nationals,” said Hurley. “My experience as a player, we went to Nationals every year, and since then I think they’ve only been back once. We’re setting our sites on earning a Nationals berth.”
Hurley took over as head coach in the spring and is entering his first full season at the IU helm. He has an extensive resume as a coach, especially on the youth level. He founded the Midwest U20 team, coached the Indiana high school select side from 2005-2009, served as an analyst for the women’s All Americans in 2009 and as a selector for the Junior All Americans in 2008.
Hurley’s time served in youth rugby has already paid off on the recruiting trail, as he hauled in six players from Cathedral Royal Irish, winners of USA Rugby’s High School Club Invitational in the spring, five from Penn, runners-up in the single-school division, and Brownsburg captain Ben Dall.
“Being active and being involved at the high school level really helped me build my network for recruiting,” said Hurley, “so I’m dialed in with youth rugby in the state of Indiana really well. We’ve got some great roots here in Indiana, so that’s going to help IU have a strong team always.”
One of those freshman, Jake Garwood, will be starting immediately at scrumhalf. Expect to see Kyle Cook, Sam Snemis and Tyler Graham contribute as freshmen, too
Collecting what Hurley calls the best recruiting class in the nation was much needed, as Indiana lost 53-percent of the last year’s team over the offseason, including star Kyle Stroman (Hurley said IU is considering filing a waiver to get Stroman another year of eligibility).
So IU is talented, but young, and entering a new venture in the Big Ten Universities Conference.
“We want to go to Nationals, but we really are focused on, and our most immediate goal, is performing well at the Big Ten level,” said Hurley.
“With new coaching a new system, we’ve got an entirely new structure in terms of our patterns of play. People are really reinvigorated, so we’ve got a lot of buy in right now. Our numbers are good, training’s been great, morning conditioning. The program’s going in a great direction right now.”
Indiana has a bye in the first week of Big Ten Universities play, but will
travel to Kentucky for a friendly with the Wildcats. Then it's Ohio State,
who is perhaps the favorite to win the new league.