Tech Ruggers Trounce UTEP 59-0

Tech Ruggers Trounce UTEP 59-0

SOCORRO, N.M. – The New Mexico Tech rugby club ran rampant over the visiting University of Texas at El Paso Miners Saturday by the score of 59-0. The Pygmies touched down four five-point tries to take a 26-0 halftime lead and added five more in the second 40 minutes. Javier Koerdell connected on five of seven two-point conversion kicks and Nigel Ruckhaus was spotless on two attempts.

Under sunny skies with no wind, Tech advanced the ball well from the opening kickoff, but eventually the ball was spilled forward in a tackle. UTEP was awarded the advantage of a scrum put-in but Tech’s eight forwards (co-captain Stephen Albritton, Tim Chavez, Sam Bartlett, JR Hart, Bastian Avila, Christian Rode, Nigel Ruckhaus, and David Lopez) had other ideas and drove the Miners backwards over the ball. It was a sign of things to come as the Pygmy eight, exhorted onward by scrum half Isaac Juarez, dominated the contests for ball possession (scrums, lineouts, and rucks) throughout the match.

Tech’s six backline players converted the wealth of ball possession into seven of the team’s nine tries, beginning with 6’4” wing Zak Lepper’s score in the left corner after four minutes. The Pygmies muffed a few opportunities in the next several minutes through handling errors but kept applying the pressure. From a UTEP scrum five meters from their own try line, Tech again drove over the ball and sophomore number eight forward Christian Rode, a product of the Albuquerque’s Eagles high school rugby club, made a powerful run from the back of the scrum to score. The conversion kick failed but Tech led 12-0.

Lepper got away again on the left touchline at 16 minutes and outside center Tanner Graham was handy for a return pass as Lepper was taken out by the Miner fullback. Flank forward Nigel Ruckhaus converted Graham’s try to increase the lead to 19-0.

Just before halftime the two outside backs combined for a third scoring move, this time after Graham deftly floated a “skip” pass past a teammate who was marked to Lepper in his customary flight lane along the left touchline.  Koerdell converted for the 26-0 halftime bulge.

Just one minute into the second half lock forward Jeremy Hart snagged a Ruckhaus lineout throw five meters from UTEP’s line and Juarez initiated a passing move along the backline. Koerdell joined the line from his fullback position for a simple try on the opposite side of the pitch. Koerdell’s kick was good for a 33-0 lead.

Hardworking flyhalf (first back in the line) John Mark Stiles supported well across the field to score a well-earned try seven minutes later. Koerdell missed the kick, but did touch down and convert another back line attack after a scrum in the 12th minute for a 45-0 lead.

True to form the Miners did not give up, although on this day their tenacity was limited to spending time in Tech’s end of the field and limiting the Pygmies to just two more tries in the final 28 minutes. One of these came after 25 minutes when Graham displayed speed and power to score from 40 meters after a UTEP penalty. Big flank forward Nigel Ruckhaus ended the try fest in the 32nd minute with a barging run from a penalty play near the Miners’ line. Koerdell’s kick went astray to leave the final score at 59-0.

Anthony Bernal was named Man of the Match by the Pygmy captains.

The Pygmies will put their unbeaten record (8 wins, 0 losses, 1 draw) on the line against the Ancestors this Friday in the annual Black and Blue alumni match as a highlight of the annual 49ers celebration at New Mexico Tech. The Ancestors prevailed last year 32 -22 to run their winning streak to six. An on-site broadcast featuring New Zealand native and NMT faculty member Dr. Bruce Harrison will help rugby neophytes understand the game. Tailgate dining sponsored by the NMT Student Activities Board begins at 1 p.m. with player introductions at 4:15 and kickoff at 4:30 p.m. Contact coach Dave Wheelock at 835-5854, dave.wheelock@nmt.edu for more information.  

– NMT –

By Dave Wheelock/NMT Rugby Director