Rugby News & Views From an American Perspective
by Josh Young
State Based Rugby Organization, Rugby Washingtonkicked off the high school season last week with four boy’s u19 games. Rugby WA is divided into two conferences for the u19s, North and South. The North is comprised of the Chuckanut Bay Steamers, Eastside Lions, Kent Crusaders, Liberty Patriots, Seattle Vikings, Schoolhouse (Wenatchee), Skagit Valley Bulls and Valley Joeys.
Playing in the South are the Budd Bay Barbarians (Olympia), Harbour Hurricanes, Kitsap Grenades, Rainier Highlanders, Tacoma Tsunami, Prairie Wolf Pack (Yelm), Shelton Savages and Yakima Griffins.
The Liberty Rugby Club, coached by Jeff Candler, has entered two sides into the competition this season – Liberty A and Liberty B.
Week 1 Recap
Liberty A vs. Kent
Liberty B vs. Schoolhouse (Wenatchee)
In game one, Liberty A defeated Kent 34-0, in a game that kicked off at 8:30am. Both teams were noticeably affected by the game time with Kent able to keep the game close until the final third. The halftime substitution of outside center Chandler Jenkins, who will attend either Utah or Air Force on a football scholarship, made all the difference on offense.
After defeating Kent, the Liberty boys hopped in vans to travel east, across the Cascade Mountains in a snow storm, to play Schoolhouse (Wenatchee) with their “B” team. Schoolhouse, a third year program, has taken its lumps in previous years, but their boys proved their up for the challenge, taking a 10-0 lead over Liberty.
Not to be outdone, Liberty used skill and experience to fight back for a 22-10 defeat of Schoolhouse.
Seattle vs. Chuckanut
A young Seattle side traveled up to Chuckanut, a national powerhouse, who are led by All American scrumhalf Riley Locker and center Wayne Lamositele. Seattle showed real mettle, but the Steamers were too powerful. On the opening kickoff, the Steamer forwards got the ball wide to Locker who chip-kicked over the Viking backs, recovered the kick and scored a try on way to a 64-15 win over the Vikings.
Valley vs. Eastside
Eastside, an up and coming program, had never beat Valley. The Joeys, coming in with all kinds of confidence showed speed and aggressiveness early on. However, the Lions, led by 8-man Aladdin Schirmer’s three tries, coupled with a total team defensive effort, were too strong for the Joeys, winning 44-5.
Byes – Skagit
Rainier vs. Budd Bay
Both perennial powers in the South, this week 1 match up could very well have decided the top team in the South. A physical matchup, that saw both forward sizes dominate the game, Rainier, coached by Andy Ramsay, was able to control possession enough to gut out a 22-12 victory of the Barbarians. Look for the Barbarians to get better as the season goes on as new coaches Dan Dillishaw and Trevor Anderson have gotten an influx of new talent recently.
Tacoma vs. Kitsap
Kitsap entered a boys’ team into competition for the first time in nearly five years and the Grenades played with all the passion you could ask, after only practicing a few weeks. Tacoma, coached by Rugby WA President Steve Chanfrou, were too powerful, overwhelming the young Kitsap side 54-0.
Shelton vs. Prairie
These two up and coming programs played one of the most spirited matches of the weekend with Prairie walking away winners, 33-22. The Shelton Savages are one of the great success stories of Rugby Washington as they field both boys and girls teams in a town of only 8,000. Husband and wife coaching tandem Chris and Kasey Nesmith have brought the culture and hope of rugby to a community that desperately needs it.
Prairie are a great success story in their own right, having started just over a year ago by one motivated father and son, Pat and Zach Norton. Zach had played for a year with Budd Bay and had the bright idea to start a club in his home town. One year later, Prairie has over 30 registered players, from ages 12-18.
Byes – Yakima, Harbour
Week 2 Preview
Kent vs. Seattle
Week two of Rugby Washington’s High School rugby season kickoffs tonight with the Kent Crusaders (0-1) visiting the Seattle Vikings (0-1) under the lights at Magnuson Park in Seattle. Both teams are young, scrappy and looking to set the tone for the season going forward. The Seattle Vikings, coached by Craig Wicks, have assembled a deep program, with sides in the u19, u16 and u14 divisions. Kent, a powerhouse in the late 90s, is rebuilding under by first year head coach, Jeremy Torres. Look for a passionate game from both teams.
Skagit vs. Liberty A
Some games are about learning more than winning. This is one of those matchups for Skagit (0-0). Liberty A (1-0) is one of the top high school sides in America, having swept the “International Division” of the Sacramento Valley Kickoff tournament last month. Skagit is a brand new club, with brand new players.
Players to Watch: Chandler Jenkins (Center/Wing, Liberty); Tei Staladi (Wing/Fullback, Liberty)
Valley vs. Liberty B
A good matchup for both clubs, Valley (0-1) looks to rebound after last week’s loss to Eastside. Liberty B (1-0), coming off their win in Wenatchee, fight to keep their winning streak alive. Expect great things out of Valley’s outside center, while Liberty is expert at playing to their pattern and have great team speed. Both clubs know each other well and are connected to the Valley Kangaroos Men’s Rugby Club.
Players to Watch: #13 (Valley); Drez Heinfeld (8-man, Liberty)
Eastside vs. Chuckanut
Chuckanut (1-0) is the program Eastside (1-0) is working to become, but the Steamers have never lost to the Lions in u19 competition and will not go down easily. The Steamers will work to set the tone early, while the Lions will have to play a near perfect game to have any hope of an upset.
Players to Watch: Aladdin Schirmer (8-man, Eastside); Riley Locker (Scrumhalf, Chuckanut)
Bye – Schoolhouse
Harbour vs. Tacoma
Harbour, winners of last year’s Bowl Division Championship look to start off their 2011 season with a win, while Tacoma hopes to run its record to 2-0. You can expect a physical battle in the forwards, with the backs making the difference, for the winning team, late in the game.
Rainier vs. Prairie
Prairie will be playing with great confidence after last week’s win over Shelton, but Rainier has too much size, speed, talent and experience. Rainier wants to be considered an elite club in Rugby Washington and expect the Highlanders to make a statement this week.
Players to Watch: Marcus Vassey (Flanker, Rainier); Zach Norton (8-man, Prairie
Budd Bay vs. Yakima
Budd Bay makes the long trip east of the mountains to Yakima. The Griffins, coached by the great motivator Jonathan Douglas will have his young boys ready to play. Budd Bay has the advantage in power and speed. I’m curious to see how they handle the trip east. Yakima is a notoriously difficult place for teams to play. Are the Griffins rebuilding after losing several key pieces, or ready to re-load and compete for the conference title?
Players to Watch: 8-man (Budd Bay); Tony Cachiotti (8-man, Yakima, Game time decision)
Shelton vs. Kitsap
Both teams will have improved after one game under their belts, but Shelton has been working for the regular season for months. The Savage’s fitness and experience should overwhelm the young boys of Kitsap.
Player to Watch: Josh Byrd (Forward, Shelton)