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Rugby Lobos Shut Down Tech

SOCORRO, N.M. February 10, 2015 – The University of New Mexico Rugby Club blanked New Mexico Tech in Socorro Saturday by the score of 27-0.

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Tech Rugby Club members Carl Peart (left) and Rick Cosentino draw down on UNM's Wayne Shelford on Saturday in Socorro. In background is Sebastian Tejeda.

Photos by William Colburn

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Josh Ownbey of New Mexico Tech and Dasante Browne of UNM vie for the bouncing rugby ball during Saturday's match in Socorro while Isaac Juarez moves in.

 

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Members of the New Mexico Tech Pygmy Rugby Club: (standing, from left) Josh Ownbey, Tanner Graham, Stephen Albritton, Jordan Cassel, Fritz Hieb, Sebastian Tejeda, Nigel Ruckhaus, Ben Turner, J.D. Sugrue, Sean Standiford, Blaine Trujillo. Kneeling (from left): Dave Wheelock (coach), Carl Peart, John Mark Stiles, Javier Koerdell, Matthew King, Brian Arko, Darien Williams, Jason Lee.

The Lobos scored four unanswered tries to tighten their grip on first place in the Rio Grande Rugby Union collegiate race. UNM remains unbeaten in the 2014-15 academic year against Tech, New Mexico State University, and the University of Texas at El Paso.

Temperatures in the 70s with no appreciable wind made for a fast track on Tech’s manicured rugby pitch. The Pygmies kicked off to start their spring season and played solid defense over the first quarter of the 80 minute contest.

Breaking down the UNM defense with a re-jigged set of backs proved another matter as longtime forward stalwart Blaine Trujillo was pressed into duty in a six-man back line that was short on playmaking experience.

Tech’s eight-man forward pack, generally charged with gaining ball possession, met with more success. In a departure from the teams’ last meeting in Albuquerque last November, set scrums were evenly split between the teams and UNM had no reliable answer for the Pygmies’ three-man lineout plays.

Getting their first taste of rugby were Tech freshman Nigel Ruckhaus of Anchorage, Alaska, and sophomore transfer Tanner Graham, while temporary club member Sebastian Rosales Tejeda of Chile lent an able hand.

After 23 minutes the Lobos kept the ball through multiple Pygmy tackles while driving straight forward 30 meters to score their first five-point try. Jamie Heaslip finished the job as he dove over the line in the tackle of Tech fullback Javier Koerdell. Flyhalf Erick Laight booted the two-point conversion for a 7-0 UNM lead.

Five minutes later Laight punished a Pygmy law violation (diving over a ruck) with a 35-meter penalty kick for a 10-0 lead the Lobos took into the five-minute halftime intermission.

The Lobos got their third try midway through the second half when center Joe Stanley slipped a tackle and rumbled 40 meters to score. The conversion attempt failed but UNM held a commanding 17-0 lead.

Five minutes later the deal was sealed when number eight forward Wayne Shelford broke two tackles in running from the base of a scrum 10 meters from the Tech line. Laight’s conversion was easy from directly in front of the goalposts and stretched the lead to 22-0.

In the dying moments a kick from Tech’s John Mark Stiles was well played by UNM winger David Campese who passed to fullback Lee Byrne running unmarked. Byrne’s try supplied the finishing touch on UNM’s 27-0 victory.

Scrumhalf Brian Arko was named Man of the Match by the Pygmy captains. Tech will travel to El Paso for a match with UTEP on February 21. The Pygmies overcame a strong comeback by the Miners in Socorro last September 13 to record a 28-27 win.

– NMT –

By Dave Wheelock/Tech  Rugby Director