It was a beautiful weekend for rugby at the Air Force Academy fields in Colorado Springs, where four West collegiate select side teams competed to represent their LAUs. Players from the Eastern Rockies Rugby Football Union (ERRFU), Heart of America (HOA), Pacific Mountain West Conference (PMWC), and Texas Rugby Union (TRU) battled it out in a round robin tournament for local pride and a chance to be selected for the West Collegiate All Star team.
The tournament provided some stellar individual performances as well as close competition; ERRFU, PMWCWC, and TRU all claimed two victories. The toughest challenge of the weekend may be the one now facing West Collegiate All Star coaches Hannah Stolba and Mollie McCarthy, who must select a final squad to represent the West at the Women’s College All Stars on June 14 & 16, 2012 at Infinity Park in Glendale, CO.
Saturday, May 5, 2012
Texas Rugby Union vs. Pacific Mountain West Conference [Match Video, courtesy of YSC Rugby]
The competition opened with a fierce match up between TRU and PMWC. Texas put points on the board quickly, with number eight Simone Lumsden dotting down in the first few minutes of play and hooker Julia Forkhort converting. Pacific Mountain responded in force, moving the ball quickly through the hands off a lineout in Texas territory for a try on the outside by inside center Mandy Lee. Soon afterwards, PMWC flanker Rachel Holderle exploited an overload near midfield to break the defensive line and offload to outside center Jade McLaughlin for the try.
As the clock ticked down on the first half, TRU’s Toni Lloyd found a gap in the Pacific defense at the 50m and evaded defenders to dot down between the posts, setting up an easy conversion kick for Forkhort and securing a lead for her team. Texas stormed back right back down the pitch, making several attempts at goal within PMWC’s 22m. A PM kick to relieve pressure put the ball in the hands of Pacific’s McLaughlin in TRU territory, who dotted down after a well-timed exchange with winger Jen Foster. Laura Whitney converted the kick to close out the half with a 17-14 advantage for Pac Mountain.
In the second half, an early PMWC penalty put Texas inside the 22m. After a line break by flyhalf Autumn Murrill, TRU’s eight, Lumsden, took an offload and dotted down wide. She carried the ball in again a few minutes later for her third try of the game. Forkhort converted both kicks to put TRU solidly in the lead, 28-17. Pacific answered back with a pick by number eight Madison Williams off the scrum and a beautiful series of offoads from scrummie Katherine Sutton to the flankers, ultimately putting Foster through for the try on the wing. Pacific Mountain took quick momentum off the kick return and got the ball wide, allowing fullback Desire Smoot to slice back across the defense for another try, putting her team up 29-28.
With less than five minutes remaining in play, Texas wing KC Curl found space on the outside and ran in from midfield to dot down. A converted kick gave TRU a 6-point lead. PMWC made a final charge as time ran out, putting McLaughlin in the try zone for her third time. In a heart-breaking finish for Pacific Mountain, a failed conversion kick left TRU up by one at the whistle, 35-34.
Texas Rugby Union vs. Eastern Rockies Rugby Football Union [Match Video, courtesy of YSC Rugby]
After a short break, ERRFU took the field again to take on TRU. Rachel Ryan, now at inside center, put up quick points with an early try for ERRFU. The teams traded possession for several minutes until TRU’s pack found space around the outside and put Simone Lumsden in for the try. Lumsden’s kick attempt was good, giving Texas the lead.
With ten minutes to go in the half, a Texas lock took to the sin bin with a yellow card for repeat infringement. ERRFU capitalized on the numbers advantage by moving the ball quickly and attacking wide, with prop Elizabeth Mendoza and center Ryan dotting down before the half closed.
When play resumed, the ERRFU back line exploited an early opportunity along the touch line, getting the ball out wide for winger Mariah Schoch to score. After three unanswered ERRFU tries, TRU’s attack came back aggressively. Cali Moses dotted down and Julia Forkhort converted the kick, then TRU quickly brought the ball back into ERRFU territory. An ERRFU penalty at the 5m set Forkhort up for an easy kick to put another three points on the board.
With ERRFU leading 20-17, both teams dug in and showed solid defensive play, holding several try attempts until Texas wing Sierra Jenkins found space around the outside and dotted down. Another kick by Forkhort was good, bringing the score in TRU’s favor by four. With five minutes left in play, ERRFU’s Ryan scored a final time, her third of the game and sixth for the tournament so far. Texas was unable to answer, leaving the score at 27-24 for ERRFU’s second victory of the day.
Sunday, May 6, 2012
Texas Rugby Union vs. Heart of America [Match Video, courtesy of YSC Rugby]
In the brisk Sunday morning chill, HOA and TRU opened the second round of LAU matches. Heart started the game with renewed vigor after two Saturday losses, refusing to yield on defense. Fifteen minutes in, Texas #19 XX finally made a break into the try zone after a long stalemate in Heart territory. Handling errors plagued both teams for the next few minutes, and the score held at 5-0 until the final minutes of the half, when TRU scrumhalf Wendy Sun took the corner to dot down.
After half time, HOA came out with early attack momentum. Inside center Rachel Pate broke the line, setting up flyhalf Kaylnn Meese for the try and narrowing the score to 12-5. Texas #19 responded with another line break and try. After a brief break for a TRU injury, Texas started a scoring rally that had #20, inside center Cali Moses and scrumhalf Sun dotting down in rapid succession. Prop Marki “Lil Nick” Hoyne returned the next kick to inside Heart’s 22m and after several breakdowns, fellow prop Jude Guerrero carried the ball in for the try. In the closing minutes, TRU’s back line took the ball out wide and fullback Rachel “Skim” Haungs cut back across the defense for a final try, bringing the score to 53-5.
TRU U23 All Stars
Coaches: Nick James, Traci Schmidtke & Wendy Young
Marissa Paopao, TX State
Jude Guerrero, UT
LaTrale Walker, A&M
Cheryl Bready, TX State
Julia Fortkort, UT
Simone Lumsden, UT
Cali Moses, UT
Toni Lloyd, TX State
Kelley Storey, A&M
Chelsea Blakely, Austin Valkyries
Marki “Lil Nick” Hoyne, A&M
Diana Lainez, A&M
Marie “Panda” Meyers, UT
Reni Penick, A&M
Lauren Deavor, A&M
Emily Rapesak, HARC
Jo Hargrove, A&M
Alex Powell, A&M
KC Curl, SHSU
Autumn Murrill, Austin Valkyries
Carla Ehlinger, A&M
Charity Lee, UT
Barbie Blair, A&M
Sierra Jenkins, UT
Rachel Haungs “Skim”, Austin Valkyries
Wendy Sun, UT
Meloday Liao, UT
Hilary O’Grady, SHSU
*Photo credits: Anita Grabowski
**Match report & Summary courtesy of YSC Correspondent Shilo. Go here to read the full report of the weekend.