Rugby News & Views From an American Perspective
STANFORD, Calif. – The women of West Point and the men of Davenport University beat out the competition Saturday in the Emirates Airline USA Rugby 2011 Men’s and Women’s Division I National Championships at Steuber Rugby Stadium on the Stanford University campus.
Army knocked off the defending champions, Penn State, in the championship game 33-29 in an absolute nail-biter. Army’s left wing, Anne Lee, scored all of Army’s 33 points and earned MVP honors.
Army’s fullback and wing combo of Jessica Sexauer and Lee were devastating in the first half and linked up for three tries on the left hand side of the field. Lee’s pace and boot sealed Army’s victory in the first half as Penn State kept Army out of the try zone the entire second.
Penn State’s inside center, Hanna Gregor and right wing, Lauren Barber had some good tries in the first, but Army always looked just a bit sharper and more composed.
Penn State tried to stage a second half comeback, but Army’s defense was too strong and the defending champions just couldn’t find a rhythm and only crossed the line once in the second.
On the men’s side, Davenport University and their fledgling rugby program will bring home the Dennis Storer Trophy in the first of what might become many national championships by defeating the University of California – Santa Barbara (UCSB) 38-19.
J.P. Eloff, Davenport’s very elusive and cunning flyhalf led his team to the title and was named the MVP.
UCSB started strong and their excellent winger, John Gallo, played a very strong game in the first half and had Davenport reeling after 40 minutes, getting a score just before halftime, but a lead after one half wouldn’t be enough for UCSB to comeback.
Davenport would really find their form in the second half, keeping UCSB at bay and taking complete control after 60 minutes elapsed to close out the match.
Eloff tallied 24 in the final encounter and had a lot of good support from his forwards especially openside flanker Ryan Hargraves and loosehead prop, Chris Hathaway. An ever-present threat on the wing gave Davenport some wiggle room in the midfield largely due the speed and skill of winger Lance Cavanaugh.