Revamped Brujos Bomb Pygmies 52-12

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. February 8, 2010 -- An outnumbered and overpowered New Mexico Tech Rugby team opened their spring campaign by bowing to the revamped New Mexico Brujos 52-12. The hosts touched down eight five-point tries and succeeded with six two-point conversion kicks, while the collegians tallied two tries and one conversion. The Pygmies showed resilience by scoring both tries in a brave second half performance; however, the midyear graduation of three standout players and a lackluster recruiting campaign leave lingering doubts.

   Tech's Graham Payne prepares to pass after snagging a lineout throw against the Albuquerque Brujos in Albuquerque Saturday.  Assisting is James Chavez (number three). Beaten on the throw is Ferdinand Yuka of the Brujos (left), who had an otherwise outstanding game. Photos by Dave Wheelock

2010 brings big changes for the Pygmies with the absences of head captain Jay Herrera, vice captain Bart Hegarty, and standout forward performer Matt Kretz. Royce Beaudry moved to the front of the back line in his new role as fly half and head captain, while new vice captain Jerod Aragon slotted in at flank forward and fellow skipper Isaiah Sanchez took over Beaudry's former position at inside center. Tech traveled to Albuquerque's west mesa Saturday with only 18 players – four short of the allowable seven substitutes for a 15-man squad. Of the 18, two Pygmies were playing in their first-ever rugby match.

Changes are even greater for the Brujos in the new decade, as they have absorbed a mass migration of players from schism-stricken 2009 National Club Division Two Runners-up Albuquerque Aardvarks. The injection of a cadre of highly accomplished men's players into the Brujos has the potential to turn what has for years been an evenly-matched fixture into a David and Goliath scenario for Tech.

The Brujos dominated ball possession from the start and after six minutes athletic No. 8 forward Ferdinand Yuka ran around and through multiple would-be tacklers to put down the first of an impressive personal tally of five tries. Set scrums were a particular problem for Tech, as the forwards were consistently forced backward in the first half. In all, the Brujos ran in five tries in the first half to hold a 33-0 halftime advantage.

A few halftime adjustments but primarily a successful gut check improved things for Tech in the second half. At eight minutes Tech fullback James Fallt lofted a nifty chip kick behind the defense to set up a lineout (inbounds throw) close to the Brujo try line.

An obscured Brujo player (hand on ball) commits a penalty as Andrew Brenner (#6), Blaine Trujillo (#2), and Joaquin Roibal (#4) join their mates in a ruck after a tackle in Saturday's loss to the New Mexico Brujos.

Aragon's throw found the leaping Graham Payne to win possession, and as the No. 8 was driven toward the line by his fellow forwards, scrum half Dustin Webb alertly plucked the ball from Payne's grasp and sneaked in for the try. Royce Beaudry's conversion attempt from a narrow angle was wide.

Despite resolute tackling by the students, the Brujos were able to score three second-half tries to stretch their lead to 52-5. Five minutes from full time the Pygmies were rewarded for their determination with the last score of the day. Following a Brujo penalty, Beaudry put the ball quickly back into play with a foot tap and passed to Isaiah Sanchez. The veteran speedster bolted up the right touchline. As he was tackled 25 yards from the line, Sanchez found Beaudry running in support. Beaudry's try and conversion kick raised Tech's share of the final tally into double figures at 52-12.  

Graham Payne was named Man of the Match by his Pygmy teammates, with honorable mentions to Aragon, prop James Chavez, scrum half Dustin Webb, and fullback James Fallt. New Mexico Tech will host New Mexico State University on February 20 in a showdown for the Rio Grande Union collegiate title and the right to challenge the number two seeded team in the Eastern Rockies Union of Colorado on February 27.

– NMT –

By Dave Wheelock/Tech Rugby Director