Blue Jay Rugby Falls to Regis Jesuit in Mile High City
It was the best of matches, it was the worst of matches. This past weekend the Blue Jay rugby team took on the Colorado state high school rugby champions, the Regis Jesuit Raiders, and although the mountain air drew thin at the sparkling professional rugby stadium, Infinity Park, the bonds of brotherhood ran deep.
The Jays opened the match to quickly learn why Jesuit-Denver is the defending Colorado state champion. The Raiders were skilled in all phases of the game and were particularly adept at finding space out wide. The Blue Jays, who found themselves lacking the fitness to play in the thin Denver air, were consistently unable to adequately spread their defense to cover every space. The Raiders made them pay with repeated overloads out wide, resulting in a bevy of Raider tries. The first half ended with the Raiders up by half dozen tries against an ugly Jays’ goose egg.
The second half saw a resurgent Blue Jay squad stymie the Raiders’ offense and more importantly, find some offensive legs of their own. Following an opportunistic poach from senior Noah Tobin, the Jays managed to turn-the-tables on the Raiders, and play a wide, 70-meter game using the full width of the pitch. Powerful runs by senior Zac Beckman and junior Langston Goldenberg punched holes in the Raiders’ defense. Crisp passing from senior Brady Moran found the ball in senior Gabe Massey’s possession. Massey attacked several Raiders, which freed up space for senior Tony Ceasar, who accepted a clever pass from Massey. Ceasar galloped into several more Raiders only to make a brilliant offload to senior Jack Diliberto, who slashed through several Raiders before making a “switch” pass to Goldenberg, who bullied his way forward for several more meters. With the Raiders on the back foot and their defense broken, the Jays executed several lightning pick’n’gos, with junior David Childs taking the final one across the tryline for the Jays’ first score. Conversion by Palmer good.
It seemed as though someone hit the rewind button, as the entire sequence played out in almost the same fashion moments later, and the Jays again used powerful forward runners including Noah Tobin and Langston Goldenberg to punch through the Raiders’ defense. Hard running and accurate passing from Massey found senior Matt Palmer slashing his way to the Raiders’ one meter line, when David Childs executed another pick’n’go across for the Jays’ (and Childs’) second try of the day. Tobin conversion no good.
The remainder of the match was much the same, with the Blue Jays now ascendant leaving the home team gasping for air and grasping for jerseys. A long, streaking run by junior Will Newell found the Jays deep in the Raiders’ zone. Junior Cole Radetich smartly picked through the a-gap, which resulted in a penalty against the Raiders. Massey used a skillful foot to find touch on the Raiders five-meter line, which gave the Jays an excellent “line out” opportunity. Senior hooker Noah Tobin threw to the back of the lineout to senior Will Shropshire, who snagged the ball and then darted through several shell-shocked Raiders, being tackled just short of the tryline. Junior Langston Goldberg, who was providing close support, scooped up the ball the moment Shropshire hit the paddock and dotted down for another Jays’ pick’n’go try. Tobin’s conversion was good, making the score in the second half Blue Jays 19, Raiders 10.
The match can be viewed at this link:
The Raiders awarded senior Gabe Massey (captain) man of the match. Following the match the players from both teams formed a large circle under the Jumbotron to say a few prayers, which was followed by a social in the stadium’s clubhouse, after which the Blue Jays enjoyed the hospitality of the Denver brothers, who hosted them Saturday evening.
Thus ended the Jays’ pre-season with a loss, but one in which the Jays’ found their stride. They open league play against the NOLA Barbarians next Saturday, at 6:00 p.m., in Gretna.