The 2019 TRU Women’s Rugby All Star Challenge was this past weekend in Austin, TX at the Austin Huns rugby complex. With eight teams in attendance, we eagerly awaited the competition this tournament would bring. Teams had traveled from all over the country and included representation from Pacific NW, Mid-America (MARFU), Old Glory Capital Selects, USA Rugby South, Midwest, and three TRU teams.
The weekend began on Thursday evening with the Rob Cain, USA Rugby Women’s National Team coach holding a coaches clinic.
Luis Sanchez, TRU Senior All Star coach attended and said,
“Rob was fantastic all weekend and I especially enjoyed the coaches clinic. His philosophy around coaching staff working as a team and coaching in a team environment was very exciting. I can’t wait to start using this method with my teams.”
Then on Friday evening, Rob held a player clinic with over 100 athletes attending. Rob worked with local coaches to break the group up into four grids. The coaches then ran the athletes through progressive drills that built from 2v1 up to mini rugby games with kicking, offense and defense.
Each grid builds and then they come back around to Rob and it all comes together... pic.twitter.com/VwIKXt9Pad— Texas Rugby Union (@TexasRugbyUnion) December 7, 2019
3v2 from a stacked line. Keep the attack tight and linear.— Texas Rugby Union (@TexasRugbyUnion) December 7, 2019
Players will do each grid for 3-5 minutes and then a few rotate to the next. pic.twitter.com/To8qDiltUL
All Star Challenge – Day 1
The All Star Challenge Tournament began Saturday morning with the Tier 2 teams. Tier 2 was made up of new teams to the event, Tier 1 was all the returning opponents.
First up was Pacific NW taking on the TRU U24 who were debuting in their first match ever. The experience of the PAC team showed up right away as they ran in over twenty tries. The TRU U24s were down but not out as they knew they had a second match coming up the next day.
The second match of the day in Tier 2 saw USA Rugby South and the TRU Motley crew do battle. The TRU Motley Team replaced a team that dropped out at the last moment and was made up of players from around the TRU. The South scored early and often but didn’t stop until they put eighty points on the scoreboard. For the motley side this was some of the player’s first experience with high performance and many commented that it was the best game they’d ever played in.
Up next was the first Tier 1 match of the day between the TRU Senior All Stars and the Midwest. The TRU Seniors scored early but then Midwest answered back. This would be the last and only try for the Midwest as the TRU didn’t stop running until it was 75-5.
The last match of the day was the closest of the day with the Old Glory Capital Selects winning 30-19 over MARFU. This was a back and forth affair with Capital scoring late to pull away and claim the win.
Tournament Dinner – Saturday Night
After an exciting day one, teams had dinner together at Morelia’s in Round Rock, TX. Having 200+ athletes and coaching staff in one room was fantastic!
Teams ate and listened to a quick history of the All Star Challenge from Wendy and Traci Young. Then Rob Cain, Nick James and Charli Jacoby talk about the USA Rugby Women’s National Team.
The talk with Rob was particularly special as he emphasized the journey that Nick and Charli had been on. Nick had attended USA Rugby High Performance camps for almost 10 years before she was selected for the Eagles. Her first match was against New Zealand where she propped against a veteran with over 100+ caps.
Charli had attended the 2018 TRU All Star Challenge and through that as well as a regional USA Rugby camp she was selected for the Eagles. One year ago she sat with these athletes and is now an Eagle.
All Star Challenge – Day 2
On finals day, there was plenty to play for. Just like the old USA Rugby ITTs and NASCs, winner of Tier 2 is promoted to Tier 1 and the loser of Tier 1 is relegated to Tier 2 next year. Plus we had hardware on the line for the Tier 1 Champion!
The matches began at 9am with the Tier 2 Consolation match featuring the TRU U24s and the TRU Motley Crew. This was a very exciting match with big excitement and cheers from the crowd each time the TRU U24s scored. In the end the experience of the Motley side was the difference and they won 55-19.
Up next was the Tier 1 Relegation match with demotion on the line between Midwest and MARFU. This match was a low scoring but fiercely competitive game played mostly between the 22m lines. Both sides played long stretches of exhausting defense with the Midwest finally winning 10-5. With that result, MARFU moves down to Tier 2 for next year.
In the Tier 2 Championship newcomers Pacific and USA Rugby South battled it out. The scoreline of 41-5 to Pacific makes it seem one-sided but it was anything but. South had long stretches inside Pacific’s 22m but struggled to finish. As a result Pacific took the W and is promoted to Tier 1 for next year.
The last match of the day was the Tier 1 Championship between the TRU Senior All Stars and the Old Glory Capital Selects. This was a rematch of last year with Capital defending the title.
Similar to the match before, Capital had plenty of possession and sparks of spectacular rugby but could only muster a penalty goal. TRU ran in 43 points and with it took home the first TRU All Star Challenge trophy.
Looking forward to next year, Wendy Young TRU Administrator indicates that…
“the tournament will continue to grow. We look forward to everyone returning next year and we want to keep expanding. We’d love to have three more U24 teams as well as representation from all of the Senior GUs.”
If interested in learning more about this tournament, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.