Nationally Ranked Rugby Handles St. Paul’s

Posted February 23, 2022 / Last updated February 25, 2022

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By Adam Massey

This past weekend, the Jesuit rugby team, currently ranked fifth in the nation, took on the 2021 Louisiana high school runner-up, St. Paul’s Catholic school. Rumor had it that St. Paul’s was looking thin this year and would not present a stiff challenge. The rumors were wrong—St. Paul’s was more than up for the challenge.

From the opening whistle, St. Paul’s created havoc at the breakdown, poaching the ball and otherwise disrupting Jesuit’s ability to create continuity in phase-play. The match’s opening 20 minutes saw the teams engaged in a pitched battle, with St. Paul’s using the brute force of its imposing forward pack to batter Jesuit’s defense. The Blue Jays were forced to adapt to St. Paul’s style of play, which was South African in feel.

The battle at the breakdown eventually found disfavor with the Sir, who penalized a St. Paul’s player for leaving his feet on an attempted poach. Jesuit flyhalf Andrew Newel capitalized on the resultant shot at goal, and opened the scoring, 3-0. With points on the board, Jesuit slowly found its form. An aggressive mid-field crash by Jesuit loosehead prop Christian Jackson saw Jackson piece St. Paul’s line and then stiff-arm his way to tryline, where he offloaded to tighthead prop Josh Baraza (and bowling phenom) for the match’s opening try. Newel was successful on the conversion.

Not long thereafter, the Jays were favored with a center-scrum, which they used to their advantage. Newel read the Wolves’ defense and found a crease into which he dropped a sympathetic pass to senior wing Tyson Oliver, who hit the line like a scramjet. Oliver was unstoppable and did not stop until he dotted down another try for the Blue Jays. Jesuit inside center, senior Joe Charif, was a samurai all match long, consistently slicing through St. Paul’s defensive line. Charif’s crisp and explosive line running earned him one try and by far the most meters carried of any player on the day. Tries were also scored by Matt Cashio, Henry Guste, Conlon Pausina, and Nate Williams. At the final whistle the score was Jesuit 49, St. Paul’s 7.

Jesuit has a bye for the next two weeks. On March 12 it plays powerhouse Strake Jesuit (Houston) in a showcase match and the Bayou Hurricanes in a league match at the City Park Marconi field.