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Knipscher won’t be captain this season because he and his wife have a new baby to take care of. He will continue to play, but the responsibility of captaining the club has fallen to young No. 8 Ryan Burns. Still, the old captain’s perspective is useful.
“Last year was a low point,” said Knipscher. “We had a coaching change and field issues and lighting issues. We had three different field locations and were practicing under the overpass of Rt. 95. There was some confusion and on a rugby club, anything that looks unorganized is going to have an effect on numbers, and we lost players last year.”
But in the spring they straightened things out. Steve Elliott established himself as the head coach of B-C, and recruits from local colleges such as Loyola and Towson helped bolster the club.
The results reflected the off-field improvements, and both Knipscher and Elliott said they think this fall will show the improvements, also.
“We’re looking better,” said Elliott. “The guys are relatively fit, and the enthusiasm if great. Some of the college kids who used to leave town after graduation are now staying, and that’s exciting.”
The lineup needed some moving around last year, but, again, this year the picture is clearer.
After losing fullback Dan Wright to a move and flyhalf Hamilton Dawson also, B-C has had to look elsewhere for some of those skills positions. Elliott has moved young scrumhalf Eric Schroeder to flyhalf. The recent Towson grad has moved back to the Baltimore area.
“We need to be able to develop players in those skill positions rather than shopping around for an older guy,” said Elliott. “I’ve been that older guy. It doesn’t solve your problem long-term.”
So it’s a new-look backline, but a young, enthusiastic one. Up front, Elliott is delighted with his forwards and has been working hard at the scrum.
“I love our forwards,” said Elliott. “We’ve recommitted to the scrum and also to getting around the field. Ryan Burns has stepped in at captain and he’s hard as nails and is my kind of guy, a go-forward guy.”
Elliott kind of guys are everywhere.
“Steve has been our coach for a full season now and we’re really able to pursue our game plan,” Knipscher said. “We’ve got a lot of young guys. I would say 50 percent of our starting lineup is from Towson or Loyola. These young guys come in and into their second year they emerge. I three or four of them will be key players this year.
“Steve has a system; he is a fan of the scrum and the guys are pushing the sled up the hill every practice, and I also think we have more than three props for the first time in three years. Last year a platform from set piece was a huge issue for us and our backline played too much defense; this year we’re in a much better position.”