Rugby Season Starts with a New Twist
By Adam Massey, head rugby coach
For the first time, the Blue Jays on the rugby team will participate in two competitive leagues: the Varsity Cup and the Louisiana Cup. The Varsity Cup is an elite invitational league of top rugby programs from Texas (Jesuit Dallas, Strake Jesuit, St. Thomas, and more) along with Jesuit New Orleans, the only non-Texas squad in the league.
The Varsity Cup schedule will see Texas powerhouses traveling to Marconi and Harrison to test their skill against the Blue Jays with the Jays themselves making trips to Texas to return the favor. The Varsity Cup competition will occur side-by-side with the Jays’ Louisiana Cup schedule. Some weekends, the Jays have matches in both Texas and Louisiana and will be required to field what amounts to two varsity squads. This a historic challenge with a historic reward: the potential to triumph in both Louisiana and Texas.
The Jays took their first step toward destiny this past Friday when they kicked off the start of the Varsity Cup season with a matrix match against the Family Faith Academy (Dallas).
The Jays are returning only two players from last year’s state championship team: senior Anderson Happel and junior Ian “Chunkz” Miranda. The rest of the squad are newly stepping up to A-side action. The newcomers include some first-year players such as sophomore Oliver Cook and freshman Griffin Vorhaben, who together make up an imposing second row. Given the raw newness of the squad, victory was far from certain.
Thankfully, fortune favored the Jays. Family Faith knocked on the opening kickoff, which gave the Jays a scrum deep in the visitors’ red zone. Some crafty passing found a very fleet-footed fullback junior Noah Burgau, who punched through the Texan’s line like a fist through paper to score the Jays’ inaugural try of the season.
The remainder of the first half saw Jesuit enjoy continuous possession deep in Family Faith’s side. But, to their credit, the visitors repeatedly denied the Jays more points despite Jesuit’s numerous forays across the try-line.
The Jays, however, would only be denied for so long. Eagle-eyed junior halfback Jonah “Johan” Ory spotted a gap in the travelers’ defense, which he immediately exploited with a little show-and-go for Jesuit’s second try. Later in the half, the Jays’ smothering defense caused a would-be Family Faith attacker to cough up the ball, which senior wing Kyler Prosper scooped up and then took to the house for a 50-meter highlight try.
The second half saw Family Faith claw their way back into the match though their efforts were ultimately in vain. Final score: Jesuit 17, Family Faith 12. Family Faith awarded Burgau man-of-the-match honors.
The two teams’ “b-sides” then squared off for the second match of the evening. This time there was no question: when the final whistle sounded, the score was Jays 46, Family Faith 0. Freshman center Zyron Forstall activated a beast-mode cheat code as he scored quickly, often, and essentially at-will with a beautiful blend of power and pace. Sophomore halfback Neil Lookingbill was similarly spectacular: his vision and field generalship saw him unleash a precise, continuous, and devastating aerial attack that kept the Jays on the front foot all match long. Dane Robertson, a rugby scout visiting from the Bay of Plenty rugby union (New Zealand) was in attendance and afterward commented that the b-side’s scintillating exhibition of “champagne-rugby” might leave one wondering whether they should be renamed the “A-side.”
The Jays take on Brother Martin for their first Louisiana Cup match on Tuesday, 5:30 p.m., at Marconi and Harrison.