There’s no pleasure for the Hunter’s Ale House Mudmen in practising in a cold, persistent drizzle, but the Nova Scotia Senior Men’s Rugby League Division 1 team has more on its mind than staying dry.
So what keeps 20 or so ruggers on the wet slippery pitch for two hours on a recent evening in Charlottetown? A First Division title, no less, and a bid for its third crown in four seasons.
And maybe a wee bit of revenge after losing in the final last year, its first season in the league’s top circuit after dominating Division 2 for much of the new decade.
“We definitely have a don’t-want-to-go-through-that-again mentality,’’ said Phil Gallant, long-time Mudmen player and club organizer, of his team’s 42-15 loss to Halifax Tars. “We came so close. We had achieved that belief (that we could win) quicker than we expected.’’
The 2014 quest begins today when the Mudmen host the Saint John Trojans. Game time is 4 p.m. at Co-op Field in Charlottetown.
Saint John was 1-4 last season, which included a 39-19 loss to the Mudmen.
Today’s game is Part 2 of a Mudmen doubleheader.
First, the Mudmen Division 2 team hosts Pictou at 2 p.m., also at Co-op.
Last year, the Mudmen First Division team finished 7-3 in the regular season behind the Tars, which went 8-1-1.
Two of those losses were to Halifax by scores of 58-3 and 49-0, so Gallant hopes his squad can realign those numbers this season after, he said, Tars exposed P.E.I.’s flaws as only good teams can do.
“We have a lot of work to do when it comes to those. Any mistake we made they exploited it,’’ said Gallant. “We have to learn what it takes to become that kind of team.’’
And Gallant is aware none of the teams will give the Mudmen a rookie pass in 2014
“We started off hot last year, but definitely we’re not going to surprise anyone this year. They’ll see us coming.’’
On the Division 2 side, the Mudmen debut on the second circuit against Pictou.
Last year, the then-Division 3 Mudmen rumbled throughout the league and cruised to a division crown.
This year, it’s not so simple and Ryan Lloyd, a member of the Division 2 Mudmen and a part of last year’s title team, knows it as the Div. 2 teams will be gunning for the Div. 3 champs.
“In a way. They (will probably) still see us as a third division team and none of them will want to lose to a third division team. It will be up to us to prove otherwise. They’ll be ready for sure,’’ said Lloyd, a Mudmen sophomore. “But we have a core groups of guys who’ve seen what the competition is like and we know it won't be easy.’’
In other news, the Mudmen senior women’s squad has exhibition games scheduled against women’s teams July 24 against Moncton and Aug. 2 versus Dartmouth.
The Mudmen club hopes to join the N.S. women’s senior loop next season.
On the web at www.mudmenrugby.com.