Monday, June 22, 2015

2015 RMRC: Prideful Utah, Lions Roar; Colorado 3rd

Got Broom?
            Texas attack the Utah line    all  images: trotski

Utah sides did and they cleaned every paddock yesterday at the 15th Annual Rocky Mountain Rugby Challenge, a significant determinant on the pathway to our national men’s and women’s XVs, the U S Eagles. Representative rugby squads from the expanse of America between the Mississippi River and the West Coast competed over the weekend at the Aurora Sports Grounds. From Idaho to Louisiana, and Minnesota down to Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma and on to the Lone Star State, age-grade rugby talent’s exciting expression was on all day each day.   At end of Sunday, there was a pride packed with Utah Lions that carried honors in every division: Varsity Boys, Varsity Girls and Junior Varsity Boys.

Rugby Colorado Varsity Boys claimed 3rd place with 41-20 victory over Oklahoma on Sunday afternoon. “It was our last game and we were all tired,” reported fireplug Fort Collins center, Devan Worrell, who looks to enroll at CSU next spring semester, “but we manned through it… (our) conditioning and mental toughness were there for us and made the difference,” he concluded.  Colorado had fallen to the Utah juggernaut, 7-39 (match report below), in the semifinal Sunday morning.  

The remarkably well-coached, well-comported Utah sides demonstrated well and truly lessons learned over the past (few) short weeks of preparation in their select side camps to the highest degree; and they performed smoothly under resolute observation of USA Eagles selectors ubiquitous on scene. The Beehive State’s Varsity Boys defeated Texas’ VBs, 33-7 (match report below), while the Girls side out of Orem (south of Salt Lake by Provo) topped all comers, including a 31-7 victory over Utah Select Girls on Sunday; Utah Junior Varsity Boys blanked Texas JVBs, 38-0, in the underclassmen’s championship.

Colorado v Utah: semifinal

Utah were sharp right at kickoff, quick to breakdown and keen for contact, enabling possession and forward progress in great heaps. Straightaway, flyer Niua Mahe collected a kick ahead and raced to goal for the try and it was 5-nil with the echoes of referee Erik Geib’s starting whistle seemingly resonant.

Colorado boys were pinged repeatedly for infringing at breakdown (laying about, failing to release the tackled player, failure to release ball when tackled, joining from side, hands playing decked ball, etc.) and the hungry Lions feasted on those advantages, progression upfield was abetted by the favorable penalty ratio though ultimately enabled by players applying their rugby knowledge and skills to be where each should be on the pitch and to do what each should be doing, pretty much all fifteen, all the time… impressive to say the least.

Those precipitately collaborative actions resulted in a trio of further groundings for the Lions: Mahe got his brace after being cleared by flyhalf Colton Swapp who forced the textbook 2-on-1 overlap with a cagey loop in the 12th minute from closeby goal; next fullback Kyler Birch was the recipient of Swapp’s string-pulling prowess, freed by the overlap pass at the ten meter line, and then #15 sped along touch before fending off a tackler at the 22, subsequently crossing for the try and 15-nil the score, 15 into it;  the last of the half, Swapp’s gathering of the pill hacked forward not-to-space, and his superb counter before offloading sweetly at tackle for inside center Sione Bloomfield’s strong finish and a Swapp conversion: 22-0 just before time in the half.
Colorado would get onboard prior to Geib’s breaktime blast when flyhalf Keegan Anderson covered a jouncer inclose and made five meters quickly to dot for tighthead Vinnie Falvey's additional deuce and 22-7 the tallies at the half.

All Utah second stanza with trys by: outside center Sherwin Lavaka, who was set up by the scorching counter of Birch, made 7 by Swapp four  minutes into the period; blindside flanker Dawson Ruegger four minutes further on after a bit of pick-and-go industry by Utah forwards in Colorado’s business district for a 34-7 scoreline; and the last just before full time as replacement wing, Ahmad McDaniel, struck gold in goal with his touch down for the record of 39-7 at Geib’s last blast.

Colorado - Try: Anderson; Con: Falvey;
Utah - Try: Mahe (2), Birch, Bloomfield, Lavaka, Ruegger, McDaniel; Con: Swapp (2)
Match Officials: Erik Geib (Referee); Mark Huff, John Kenney (RAs)

Texas v Utah: Varsity Boys Grand Final
Hot and blowy for the championship in the top boys bracket and sizzling the Lions as they roared out of the gates at kickoff, and talented #10 Colton Swapp (who’ll be a senior this fall); Swapp distributed and then looped, shot the gap thus created and backed himself through the last 30 meters to dot for his own conversion: 7-nil Utah after two minutes.
Lions returned quickly in solid phasework progressing through forty meters patiently before outside center Sherwin Lavaka grounded in the corner and Utah were up by a dozen in the seventh minute.
Texas elected to launch territorial-seeking aerials, but Utah’s reply was for quick and poignant counters of their back-three-backs along clean, swift lines.
Lions kept up the pace with flyer Jared Tupou crossing in the corner and looping for the centerpost before touching down for Swapp’s completion and 19-nil for Utah at referee Nick Cutrell’s halftime signal.
Texas struck resolutely from the restart, yet were unable to break the stolid defense of their opponents as opportunities onhand inside the  Lions 22 were squandered by the knock-on, forward pass, or the breakdown infraction.
Utah would realize more joy and Tupou his brace as the wing finished a fast forty along touch to cross in the corner, and Tupou smartly pressed for the centerpost before touching down for Swapp’s added deuce: 26 and nil the tallies nearing time.
Texas got theirs with a four-man overlap from a fifteen meter scrum: outside center Patrick Medina dummied-the-house and popped through space thus created to dot for flyhalf Ryan Rees’ conversion, and 26-7 in the 21st minute.
One last try for Utah in the form of a streaking Ahmad McDaniel, another conversion for Swapp, and the record of 33-7 Utah at Cutrell’s final whistle.

Texas - Try: Medina; Con: Rees;
Utah - Try: Swapp, Lavaka, Tupou (2), McDaniel; Con: Swapp (4);
Match Officials:  Nick Cutrell (Referee); John Kenney, Joey Swartzell (RAs)

In Closing
Lindenwood University Lions recruiter,
Jimmy Harrison, obtains Chaparral's
Sam Ross' contact info
Pacific Rugby Premiership and Denver
Barbarians recruiter, Matt Lancaster,
seen observing talent
Rocky Mountain Rugby Challenge, for the past fifteen years, has provided the topnotch forum  for the expression of elite, age-grade rugby in our region. And not just our the national team, though to be certain Eagles selectors were numerous and enumerative of player potentialities on the days. Intelligent then, the forward-thinking organizations with recruit personnel in attendance to provide for their respective organs rugby future by engaging with all star players and at the very least obtaining the contact information of these proven outstanding talents for later communication.

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