Rugby Wins Third Straight State Title

Posted April 17, 2019 / Last updated April 22, 2019

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This past weekend, the Blue Jay rugby team faced their long-time nemesis, the Bayou Hurricanes, in the Louisiana rugby state championship at the NOLA Gold stadium. The Jays won the match, 19-7, and with it, their third-consecutive state championship.

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Weather conditions played a major factor in the game as the stadium was buffeted with a steady 20 mile per hour wind, making kicking and attacking out of the north endzone nearly impossible. The Jays chose to give Bayou the wind in the first half. Their plan was simple: survive the first half, keep the score close, and then, with the wind in the second half, earn the victory.

Senior captain Langston Goldberg celebrates after scoring the Jays’ first try.

And so they did. Throughout the opening period, the Jays played tight, conservative rugby. They managed to maintain possession of the ball for the majority of the half so that Bayou could not take advantage of the wind. The Jays methodical play eventually drew a penalty against Bayou for not releasing the ball carrier. An accurate kick from senior Will Newel “to touch” gave the Jays an opportunity to attack Bayou from a lineout at Bayou’s 20-meter line. Senior hooker Cole Roy threw a laser-guided ball to senior captain Langston Goldenberg, The Jays’ forwards quickly turned the linout ball into a powerful driving maul, which gained 10 meters. After a series of phases, Goldenberg eventually dotted down from a pick-n-go for the first score of the match. The half would end with the Jays up, 5-0.

With the wind now at their backs, the Jays were ready to dominate the second half. The Hurricanes, however, opened the second half with an immediate try and, with the conversion good, took the lead 7-5. The Jays, having recovered from the momentary shock, settled into a more expansive game, moving the ball from sideline to sideline. Powerful runs from forwards Cole Roy, Will Motes, and David Childs, among others, kept Bayou on the back foot and forced several Bayou penalties.

One such penalty gave the Jays another chance to attack from a lineout deep in Bayou territory. The Jays elected to run a “Cobra” play, which saw hooker Cole Roy receive a camouflaged pass from Goldenberg around the back of the maul. As Roy thundered toward the tryline, he flicked the ball to senior Brayton Whittington, who hit the line like a hammer and punched in Jesuit’s second try. Newel’s conversion was good and gave Jesuit a 12-7 lead.

Most valuable player David Childs skillfully offloads to a teammate.

Throughout the remainder of the afternoon, Jesuit smartly used the wind to its advantage. Senior Jacob Kieff nailed an impromptu drop-kick from Jesuit’s 20-meter line that traveled 70 meters before rolling out of bounds at the Bayou 10. Later, senior flyhalf Will Newel matched Kieff with a clearing kick of his own that soared at least 65 meters. These kicks eventually paid dividends. Bayou, following Newel’s kick, overthrew their own line out ball, which was quickly scooped up by an eager David Childs, who sprinted through and past several Bayou defenders for the Jays’ third and final try. With Newel’s conversion good, the Jays increased their lead to 19-7.

The final whistle blew shortly thereafter, and with that, the Jays became the first three-peat state champion since the Blue Jay squads of 2005-2007. Senior “8-man” David Childs was awarded the most valuable player for his powerful runs and timely try. Senior hooker Cole Roy, whose lineout throws were spectacular on the day, came in a close second.

The Jays take on Conshokocken rugby (Pennsylvania) in a challenge match on Wednesday, April 17, at 4:30, at the Marconi field in City Park.