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There are very few things that are more personal than college sports (just check out the comments on RUGBYMag.com!). Now players who were rivals become teammates.
The players might be forgiven for hanging with their teammates from their college team and not reaching out to those from other schools. Good coaches make sure that doesn’t happen, and for All American co-captain Ryan Roundy it’s important for players to bond across campus boundaries.
“Breaking through those alliances is the hardest part of getting a team like this together,” said BYU’s Roundy. “It’s more about who you’re comfortable with. In the lineout, you’re used to one guy throwing. Each jump sets his feet different and has a different approach. As a No. 8 working with a scrumhalf, I think the biggest thing is to communicate. Chris Saint [from Penn State] is a great communicator. He talks a lot and that helps us forge a working relationship that much better.”
Time breeds familiarity, but so does frequency, said Roundy. Getting as many reps as you can allows lifters to understand how a new jumper jumps, and they can time their movement to a new thrower. And the same goes for work at the back of the scrum.
All that practice is a good thing, given that Roundy is not working with his regular pack mates from BYU – only Mikey Su’a joins Roundy in the starting lineup for this weekend’s clash with New Zealand Universities. Similarly, Roundy might have been paired up with fellow Cougar Shaun Davies. Instead he is working with Penn State scrumhalf Saint.
“We all have to get the system down,” said Roundy. “Learning to trust each other, especially players you don’t know, is a big part of being successful as a team.”