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The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

St. Joe’s rugby team announces new head coach

Coach Nick Hunter (right) with a former student of his, Jordan Mariney.

On Sept. 19, the St. Joe’s men’s rugby team announced the addition of new Head Coach Nick Hunter.

Hunter has coached rugby at every level from youth to senior, and played the sport at the club level in New Zealand. He is set to replace former Head Coach Daniel “Shaggs” Yarusso, who stepped down in January 2020 citing a lack of pay for the position.

Yarusso was beloved by many within the rugby program, and helped lead the team to eight conference championships and two national championships. Hunter understands the challenges ahead and is enthusiastic about the opportunity.

“[My experiences] have taught me to value how I want to coach and how I want to develop players,” Hunter said. “So I’m very much looking forward to trying to make St. Joe’s as close to my experiences as possible.”

Hunter highlighted the talent he has seen within the team, specifically their collective development as a squad.

“It’s great to work with guys that have multiple years on any team,” Hunter said. “It’s also really encouraging that [the team] is so ambitious about the athletic side of rugby.”

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, the rugby team, like all club spots, is not currently allowed to train or hold any practices. However, Hunter had the chance to meet several of the players through Zoom calls and said he is impressed with them so far.

“From the [Zoom] meetings that we’ve had, the players at St. Joe’s have a very good [rugby] IQ and have a lot of knowledge [about the game],” Hunter said. “There’s a lot that they bring to the table as a unit that we can build off of.”

Senior lock Mike Paulosky mentioned the impact of these Zoom calls with their new coach when discussing his initial impressions of Hunter.

“Even across a virtual format, I was very impressed with his demeanor, attitude and drive,” Paulosky said.

According to Paulosky, the chance to play under such a knowledgeable coach is a great opportunity for both himself and his teammates.

“I’m really excited knowing that he has great experience as both a player and a coach,” Paulosky said. “From talking, he struck me as the type of coach who is committed to growing a team.”

Senior fullback Sean McDermott said he is eager to be coached by someone who is so adept in the sport of rugby.

“I’m definitely excited to be able to learn more about the game under him,” McDermott said. “Especially from someone with rugby experience outside of the U.S.”

According to McDermott, Hunter brings a certain level of motivation to help the team reach that next degree of success on the field.

“He’ll bring the passion and the plan to take the team to the next level,” McDermott said. “We have had great success recently, and we want to build upon that and maintain our winning culture.”

While the team has yet to practice together this year, they remain optimistic for the prospects of a spring season, according to Paulosky.

“We have to continue to monitor guidelines and plans as they are given to us,” Paulosky said.

However, as Hunter said, discussions are currently in the works about holding training sessions in the near future.

“We’re at a school that’s very safe and cautious right now,” Hunter said. “Pretty soon we’ll be getting into small group training and workouts, but the guys really push the pace [on practices] and want to get to it.”

For Hunter, what’s most important is the opportunity to play rugby again and really get to know his team out on the field.

“I’m absolutely itching to get started,” Hunter said. “But [as a team] we’re very excited for the spring and it’s something all of the guys are very invested in at the moment.”

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