Rugby News & Views From an American Perspective
The Deep South Conference hosted a Day of Rugby this past Saturday at Pan American Stadium in the City Park Area of New Orleans. It’s a traditional invitational event where visiting teams from out of the area take on some of New Orelans’ best and brightest teams.
This season’s guests were White Station Rugby Club from Memphis, Tn. and the motley sided Central Illinois which was composed of players from Peoria, Metamora area as well as a few players from the Chicago suburbs.
Central Illinois All-Reds opened the day’s festivities against Jesuit New Orleans Blue Jays. The well oiled team of Jesuit ran into the very physical pack of Central Illinois that controlled the ball for the entirety of the first half and a good portion of the second half. Thanks to strong rucking and power running from Central Illinois’ hooker and strong side flanker, the Blue Jays were down 27-0 at one point. However, they finally got their game back on track and surged back strong, rattling off 3 tries in ten minutes to bring the game to 27-21. The All-Reds had enough left in the tank to dig deep and mount an offensive attack to keep Jesuit out of their half of the pitch for the final six minutes of the match to secure the victory, 27-21.
The White Station Spartans brought a Varsity and Junior Varsity side to NOLA. The Varsity side played first in a very physical match against the Crusaders of Brother Martin HS’s Varsity side in their first match. The Spartans were outsized, out played but never outdone. Brother Martin played a patient, technical game that capitalized on White Station’s handling mistakes. The Crusaders worked the rucks solidly. They then proceeded to work the ball from sideline to sideline until they found space where upon they took it. Regardless of the final score, the Spartans continued to play as hard as they could until the final whistle blew with Brother Martin coming out ahead 41-12.
White Station’s B-side took the lesson from their more experienced teammates and played as hard as they could. Unfortunately, Brother Martin’s B-side did the same. The Crusaders attacked, attacked, and attacked some more for good measure. Their pressure was just too much for the Spartans and resulted in a 24-0 win.
In between the high school matches, Loyola University New Orleans Wolfpack hosted the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs. Loyola came out of the gate strong and never looked back. They were bigger, faster and very disciplined against the smaller yet energetic La Tech. However, the Bulldogs tenacity couldn’t overcome their myriad of mistakes and the Wolfpack capitalized on each one. While the game was much more competitive than the score would lead you to believe, it was a long day for La. Tech as Loyola ran away with the win at a final score of 62-26.
White Station’s A-side took the field one more time to face the Audubon Barbarians. White Station’s last game was pretty much a repeat of their first. Flashes of great plays and a tenacious mindset countered by a team with more experience, bigger players and a better game plan. The Spartans never backed down even when they were down by more than 30. The Barbarians looked polished and in control at all times. They were relentless in moving the ball forward and didn’t allow White Station to cross into their territory but a few times. In the end, Audubon came away with the win by a score of 49-14.
In the final match which took place under the lights, Central Illinois All-Reds took the field against Lake Area New Tech Early College High School Leopards. The Leopards are the first public high school rugby team in New Orleans history. This is their second season in existence. Lake Area’s imposing size and speed difference helped get the ball rolling their way as they jumped out to an early 7-5 lead. However, the All-Reds excellence of execution in set pieces, almost stealing Lake Area’s put-ins at will, along with their punishing running helped them regain control and roll up a 27-7 lead.
In a day full of games where history repeated itself, the Leopards capitalized on All-Reds penalties and obviously tired legs pulling the score to 27-17 with six minutes left. This time, the All-Reds back line took control and every time the Leopards brought the ball in their territory, they found a way to get possession and boot the ball back into Lake Area territory or run it fifty meters deep before getting shoved into touch. Alas, the Leopards comeback ran out of time and the All-Reds escaped with a 27-17 victory and a 2-0 record on the day. Most importantly, all 15 players they brought ended the day injury free.
Deep South Day of Rugby Scores 3-9-13
Central Illinois All-Reds 27
Jesuit New Orleans 21
Brother Martin A-side 41
White Station A-side 12
Brother Martin B-side 24
White Station B-side 0
La. Tech 26
White Station A-side 14
Central Illinois All-Reds 27
Lake Area 17