Is Head Coach Matt Boccuti ready to lead his team to a state championship?
Over the years, Malvern rugby has gained the skill and talent it needs to build a solid team. Currently, they have their eyes on a possible state championship at the end of the season.
Rugby is one of the most unique sports at Malvern, mostly because they are the only Inter-Ac school with a rugby team.
Because of this, Malvern has competed in the Red League, a large, competitive league that is made up of teams like St. Joe’s Prep and La Salle College High School. This season, Malvern is going to compete in a new league: The Gold League.
Coach Boccuti, head coach of the team for the past three years, said, “The competition will be a little less than what we had last year, but the league still has teams like Conestoga, who made the state finals last year.”
With a new league and new competition, Coach Boccuti hopes Malvern can stay focused on their goals, and play to their standards.
“Since we are in a new environment, it’s up to the guys to really play their game, not knowing the opponent,” Boccuti said.
Boccuti was previously the assistant coach under former head coach Jack Foley. “Being a coach on campus, recruiting is an important thing that the prior coaches hadn’t really done,” Boccuti said.
In Boccuti’s first year, they graduated 21 seniors, and were left with many underclassmen with little experience. He made sure that he instilled in his players the importance of making sure that they set a certain playing standard instead of caring about wins and losses.
“Now,” Boccuti said, “a loss is pretty low for the team. They are really in a good place to be successful this year.”
Evidence of this attitude has shown in their first three preseason matches. The first scrimmage they played, they lost to a strong Media team.
However, they won their next two matches versus St. Gregory’s, a strong team that made it to the state final four last season, and St. Augustine’s, whom they beat for the Augustinian Cup.
The Augustinian Cup has been played between Malvern and St. Augustine’s for many years, and is greatly anticipated by the players and coaches.
“[The game against St. Augustine’s] was a good win,” Boccuti said. “They are a really physical team, and we lost last year because of that”.
He also said that, “the three preseason games we’ve had, the guys have shown me that adversity doesn’t faze them very much. As a coach, that is a hard thing to instill in a team, but that culture is something that the guys brought to the table”.
The rugby team is also a senior heavy team, consisting of many experienced players and leaders.
“Guys like Luke Stratton, who has been captain for a number of years now; Jack Ludin, Kyle Hegarty, Nick Gatti, are all the seniors that are moving in and taking over,” Coach Boccuti said.
Senior Jack Ludin has played rugby since freshman year and is excited for what the season holds.
“One of our goals is winning the state championship, which takes place in May,” Ludin said. “I honestly think we have a good shot to win it.”
Many of the newcomers to the rugby team have also noticed the camaraderie and the heart that Malvern Rugby possesses when playing.
Sophomore Joe Carpenter started playing rugby this season and has been enjoying his first year on the team.
“I really like the atmosphere of the team,” Carpenter said. “Everyone is really nice, and everyone loves the sport. They have a fun time while their playing, and I’ve had a lot of fun with the team so far”.
Carpenter is one of the two players who have gotten injured so far. Carpenter broke his leg in one of the preseason games, and senior Zach Maher dislocated his shoulder in the St. Augustine’s game.
However, the team still has its expectations high. “We are a pretty good team. So as long as we stick together, I think we will be good,” Carpenter said.
With the season fast approaching, Boccuti is ready for what the future holds for the team.
“Culture wise, each guy has a similar idea of the values that we hold important on the team. Expectations are high,” Boccuti said.