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Indiana finished fourth in the Midwest East last season. In RUGBYMag’s final 2010/2011 DI Top 25 they were ranked 11th. Why? Because the Midwest East was the murderer’s row of college rugby.
Indiana defeated two College Premier Division teams (Notre Dame and Ohio State) and was an injury time JP Eloff penalty away from upsetting eventual national champs Davenport in the Midwest playoffs.
How many full-time starters have the Mudsharks lost over the summer? None.
“We graduated two players that were only part-time starters. I think I have 22 kids that played first-team at any given time,” said first-year Indiana head coach and long-time IU pack coach Chuck Fultz.
“In my forward pack I’ve lost absolutely nothing. I have forwards that are starting their third year with me in my program, in my style of play. We’re a pretty forward-oriented team with some big, strong kids and we work hard at it.”
Captaining Indiana and guiding their pack is No. 8 and Midwest all star Kyle Strohman.
“He’s just a great player. He’s goat a work ethic like I’ve never seen,” said Fultz, who’s been in the game 41 years. “In all those years, Kyle Strohmans, in my estimation, are few and far between. He is a very dedicated, athletically talented young man and he has decided to take the reigns this season and be our captain.”
Another coach favorite in the pack is hooker Charlie Clarke, who was voted the IU forward MVP last year and back MVP the year prior as a center.
“He’s a wrestler. He’s got the center of gravity. He’s a natural athlete. He’s our best all-around guy,” Fultz. “For some reason, the Midwest select side did not elect to take Charlie this year, which is a tragedy, because Charlie’s our best all-around guy.”
Indiana’s season will be decided in the first three weeks when they take on favorites Bowling Green, Miami and Davenport to open league play.