Syracuse is much improved from a year ago, but Wake Forest is, too

first_imgHurricane Matthew brought rain and wind to last year’s Syracuse-Wake Forest game, combining with WFU’s defense that disrupted Syracuse’s offense, holding SU to only nine points in Winston-Salem. Syracuse lost, 28-9, but enters Saturday’s game as a team that’s improved over the past year. SU players have repeatedly said that bowl eligibility has never felt this close with three games to play.With two more wins, the Orange (4-5, 2-3 Atlantic Coast) can ensure it will play its first bowl game in four years. In its way sits a road game at Louisville, a surging Boston College team at the end of the month and a home game this Saturday against Wake Forest (5-4, 2-3), which is only one victory away from ensuring bowl eligibility of its own.While Syracuse has made strides this season, WFU is “playing better in every single way,” head coach Dave Clawson said Wednesday afternoon on the ACC coaches’ teleconference.“We’re better. We’re certainly a lot more competitive against the better teams on our schedule,” Clawson said. “We’re in them. We need to figure out ways to win them … We feel comfortable that when we spread it and when teams spread it with us, we run it. We are a really, really improved unit on offense across the board. Our QBs and receivers are playing better.”Two of Wake Forest’s four losses have come to defending national champion and No. 4 Clemson, as well as No. 3 Notre Dame. Both came on the road. WFU’s offense, backed by senior quarterback John Wolford, scored more points (37) against Notre Dame last week than any other team has this season. The Irish (8-1) won the game, 48-37.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textIn Week 2, the Demon Deacons pounded Boston College, 34-10, on the road. WFU lost to Florida State by only one touchdown and Clemson and Georgia Tech by 14 points apiece. Last month, WFU beat Louisville at home. Meanwhile, Syracuse has not lost a game by more two possessions this season, either.Andy Mendes | Digital Design EditorIt is clear, both Clawson and SU head coach Dino Babers said this week, that the Demon Deacons and Orange are considerably better than the teams that matched up last October. Both have faced brutal schedules against top teams on the road, yet neither has gotten blown out all year.“Syracuse is a much-improved football team,” Clawson said. “They’re playing extremely fast. They have two receivers (Steve Ishmael and Ervin Philips) putting up video game numbers. They’re improved in every aspect of their program.”Wake Forest went 3-9 in both 2014 and 2015 and lost to SU both years. In 2016, Clawson led the Demon Deacons to a three-possession win over Syracuse and the program’s first bowl game in eight years, beating Temple 34-26 in the Military Bowl. Now, he has the Demon Deacons eyeing a second straight bowl game with a win over Syracuse.Syracuse kicks off against Wake Forest on Saturday at 3 p.m. inside the Carrier Dome.Additional notes:WFU’s run defense is 108th in the country (205.6 yards allowed per game). Babers said those numbers are inflated because the Demon Deacons recently played quality run teams in Notre Dame and Georgia Tech. “They’re going to stop the run, there’s no doubt about it,” Babers said.Babers on backup quarterback Zack Mahoney, who went 7-for-12 with 36 yards passing against Florida State: “Zack has backed up Dungey for maybe the last three to four years, and he’s done a really good job at it.”Sophomore defensive lineman Kendall Coleman is not fully recovered from an injury he sustained in Week 4, Babers said. While Coleman played against FSU, “his condition bothered him in that game.”Babers on SU’s run defense, which ranks 38th in the country and faces a balanced WFU attack this week: “I think that we’re good in the run. I think we can hold our own.”Clawson on Syracuse: “Ishmael and Philips are probably as dynamic as any one-two combination that you see.”“We’re going into a very hostile environment,” said WFU redshirt senior tight end Cam Serigne, who caught four passes for 68 yards last year against Syracuse. “They play really fast on offense and they have a solid defense.” Facebook Twitter Google+ Commentscenter_img Published on November 8, 2017 at 5:00 pm Contact Matthew: [email protected] | @MatthewGut21last_img read more

Blood and sport: the samurai slashing that brought rugby to Japan

first_imgThe founders of the Yokohama club proposed that “hacking”, or kicking opponents, be banned, while early match reports underlined the prevalence of drop-kicking in those days.“Mr. Abbott having caught the ball made a good run through his opponents and, with a fine drop kick, scored a goal,” reads one report from the 1873 Japan Weekly Mail.Rugby gained a more solid foothold in Japan at the turn of the century when two Cambridge University alumni, Edward Bramwell Clarke and the Japanese player Ginnosuke Tanaka, introduced the game at Keio University in Tokyo.With more Japanese taking up the game, the sport’s popularity grew quickly with crowds of 20,000 attending matches in the early 1930s, according to Galbraith.– ‘Not so healthy’ –The Japan Rugby Football Union was formed in 1926 and a national team played its first overseas matches on a tour to Canada in 1930.In modern history, the Japanese team have been ever-present at the Rugby World Cup since the first edition in 1987, where they narrowly lost to the United States before suffering a 60-7 hammering at the hands of England.The World Cup has seen extreme highs and lows for Japan, from a record 145-17 loss to the All Blacks in 1995 to the competition’s greatest ever upset when the “Brave Blossoms” beat the mighty Springboks 34-32 in 2015 — dubbed the “Miracle of Brighton.”Organisers hope hosting this year’s competition will accelerate the development of rugby in Japan and Asia more widely, but low attendances for club rugby and the ejection of the Tokyo-based Sunwolves from Super Rugby have raised doubts.And what of rugby now at the Yokohama club, where it all began?“The status today is not so healthy,” sighs Galbraith speaking to AFP at the club, which proudly displays Japan’s oldest rugby trophy and numerous team photos on its wood-panelled walls.A dearth of members from traditional rugby-playing nations has hit the club hard, he says. “It’s more difficult to put out a 15-a-side team to play rugby.”Share on: WhatsApp The Yokohama Club is one of the world’s oldest rugby clubsYokohama, Japan | AFP | When 70,000 fans cram into Japan’s Yokohama stadium for the Rugby World Cup final, few will be aware of the area’s rich rugby history which stretches back more than 150 years and includes one of the world’s oldest clubs.It all started in the early 1860s when Britain sent troops to Yokohama to protect its subjects after samurai warriors slashed to death a British trader — and some of their 19th century officers turned out to be rugby fans.According to historian Mike Galbraith, who has extensively studied Japanese rugby’s early history, the first mention of the game being played dates to 1863, only 40 years after Rugby School student William Webb Ellis famously “took the ball in his arms and ran with it”, giving birth to the sport.As military tensions eased, the bored officers — many of them from British public schools like Rugby — took to the oval ball to pass the time.“They started playing every afternoon because the troubles subsided and so they didn’t really have anything to do. In December 1864, there’s evidence they were playing every afternoon with a few of the civilians,” Galbraith told AFP.Two years later, in 1866, more than 40 of these early rugby players banded together to found the Yokohama Foot Ball Club. A Japanese newspaper report from January 26, 1866, records the official establishment.“As we happen to have two or three Rugby and Winchester men in the Community, we may be certain that we shall have really good scientific play,” said an editorial in the Japan Times.This evidence leads Galbraith to claim that Yokohama may be one of the world’s first “Open” clubs — meaning that unlike a university or school, anyone can join.“The Yokohama Country and Athletic Club appears at present to be the oldest open club in the world with contemporaneous documentary evidence of its founding,” he said.– ‘Very unique’ –There are rugby clubs that are older, acknowledges Galbraith, but they lack such strong evidence describing their creation.“In the case of the Yokohama Foot Ball Club, there is a newspaper printed that very day describing what time it was and who the key people were and what the motions were. That’s very unique,” he said.The game then was very different to the fast-flowing sport played by professional athletes on display during the Rugby World Cup, which culminates on November 2 in Yokohama.last_img read more