First-Ever Blue Jay Rugby “Pupils Become the Masters” Match

Posted February 13, 2017 / Last updated July 28, 2017

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Sam McCord, dad to senior John McCord, heads up the field.

Sam McCord, dad to senior John McCord, heads up the field.

On Saturday, Feb. 11, the Blue Jay Rugby Club took on perhaps their toughest opponents to date: their dads. The Jays played their first-ever “Pupils Become the Masters” match, which pitted the Jesuit coaches and dads against the players in 40 minutes of touch rugby.

Prior to match time, the dads underwent an intense 40-minute skills clinic designed to help get them up to speed on rugby basics. What they lacked in speed and fitness the dads more than made up for in intellect, picking up the basic concepts in no time and clamoring to take the field to teach their young upstarts a lesson. For their part, the players displayed a casual, confident disregard for the challengers, joking and guffawing during their warm up. The dads received no respect, and they certainly took notice. The players’ glib certitude seemed to ignite the dads’ inner competitive fire, as just before the match started they circled up and broke into a riotous, unscripted battle chant intended to intimidate the players: “IF YOU WIN, YOU ARE GROUNDED! IF YOU WIN, NO MORE ALLOWANCE! IF YOU WIN, KISS YOUR CAR GOODBYE!” This appeared to have the intended effect, as the players — previously so jovial and certain — suddenly seemed quite concerned.

The next 40 minutes saw a pitched battle between the dads/coaches and the players, as each squad continuously probed the other’s defense. The players capitalized quickly on a dads/coaches errant pass when junior Matt Palmer intercepted and took it to the house. Players up, 5-0. Not long thereafter, the players struck again, when senior Jacob Whitlow found a crease in the dads/coaches defense and sprinted across the tryline. Players up, 10-0.

In response, the dads stiffened their defense and used a more ground-and-pound style assault, to which the more slightly built players had trouble responding. The dads/coaches soon rebounded, after a series of penetrating runs by Robert Diliberto (father of junior Jack Diliberto) led to Coach Adam Massey taking one over the line for the dads/coaches’ first score. Shortly thereafter, Lance Moran (father to junior Brady Moran) tricked several players with a “dummy pass,” leaving them looking confused and flat-footed as they went left when he went right. His line break was followed up by some crisp “through the hands” passing from Hudson Ellis (father to senior Case Ellis) to David Waguespack (father to senior Will Waguespack) to Rick Stedman (father to junior Reux Stedman and sophomore Josh Stedman), which eventually resulted in the dads’ second score as Coach Wes Eustis dotted one down over the line. Players 10, dads/coaches 10.

Suddenly realizing their fathers were a force to be reckoned with, the players were clearly nervous, which manifested in repeated penalties for being offsides and other infringements. After some intense back-and-forth, the players nevertheless capitalized on another dads/coaches error, adding another try to their tally and bringing the score to 15-10. With time running short, the dads worked to maintain simple possession on offense and attacked the players’ defensive line. Several ligament stretching “up-the-guts” runs by Sam McCord (father to senior John McCord) disoriented the players’ defense and allowed Coach Brad Guarisco to find a crease, earning another 5 points and tying the score at 15-15 as time expired.

The dads noticed how deflated and dejected the boys looked at not securing the easy victory, and — as such — challenged them to a sudden-death overtime. Realizing that it was long past lunch and that a hardy nap would soon be in the cards, the dads put up a good show for the next few minutes, ultimately electing to “gift” the final score to senior Josh Cashio. The first-ever match of its kind ended in the players’ favor, 20-15.

The players selected Robert Diliberto as the “man of the match” for his many fine runs. For their part, the dads have vowed revenge and demanded a rematch at the end of the season.