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Rugby Team Takes Collegiate Title In Santa Fe

NMT Men’s Rugby Are Santa Fe Tens Collegiate Champions

SANTA FE, N.M. – This last Sunday, the New Mexico Tech Rugby Club opened their 2017-18 season as the Santa Fe Fiesta 10s Tournament Collegiate Division Champions.

The Santa Fe 10s is an annual tournament featuring a Men’s Club Division and a Collegiate Division, and is played in the “10s” format (10 players per side) as opposed to the traditional “15s” format (15 players per side) for Rugby Union. The tournament traditionally serves as the opening competition for the Rio Grande Rugby Union season.

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The New Mexico Tech ruggers lost in the semifinals at the Santa Fe 10s Tournament, but won the collegiate title. 

 

The NMT team of 14 young men included two freshman (Dane Robergs and Joshua Ward) and two new-comers to the game of rugby (Ward and Zane Frazier). The team has an experienced pack of ruggers including Tanner Graham, J.R. Hart, Stephen Albritton, Logan Blake, and Javier Koerdell.

NMT opened the season against the New Mexico Highlands University Vatos, previous NSCRO 7s National Champions. Although the Vatos displayed good ball skills and athleticism on the wings, Tech ruled the pitch with disciplined defense, intelligent attack, and good technical execution, allowing only one try to the opposition while touching down three tries of their own.  NMT, on the other hand, scored two well worked tries and one tremendous individual effort from their No. 2, Tim Chavez, to record a 19-7 win.

One hour later, Tech faced Adams State, the other collegiate squad at the tournament, but including several additional players borrowed from other men’s clubs also at the tournament. Tanner Graham opened the scoring with a strong run and score under the posts, then converted his own try resulting in seven points.

Adams State, playing their first match of the day, took advantage of NMT’s lack of rest between matches and quickly answered back with their own unconverted try.  Fitness became an issue for NMT, as it is early in the season, and Adams State threatened several additional tries to take the lead.  Fortunately, NMT was  able to stay strong enough in defense to prevent Adams State from scoring again.

Tanner Graham posted his second try of the match shortly after halftime, securing a 14-5 win and the Collegiate Division Championship, and sending them into the semifinals to face the Albuquerque Aardvarks, a men’s club.

The match against the Aardvarks, a top men’s club from Albuquerque,  proved to be the best of the tournament. After the Aardvarks opened scoring, the teams traded tries, each team scoring four tries over the course of the match.

Arguably the two best tries of the tournament, however, were turned in by NMT.  NMT quickly moved the ball to the left wing and then executed several perfect offloads to team mates. Dillon Thomas finished off the move with a try under the posts. Nearly the entire team was involved in the try, and the spectators on the sideline roared with approval at the fantastic rugby skill.

In the second half, Graham, who had been a potent attacking option all day, took a well-placed pass from scrumhalf Blake on the weak-side wing with Robergs supporting on the outside along the touch-line.  Graham aggressively attacked the outside defender, and released Robergs down the touch line. Robergs still had work to do though, fending off the sweeping Aardvark scrumhalf’s tackle and finally touching the ball down for the try.

The Aardvarks too managed some well executed skills and attack.  Ultimately, the Tech's ruggers dropped the match to the Aardvarks 24-22, losing only by one unconverted try. The NMT squad earned the respect of everyone at the tournament, and walked away with their first collegiate division tournament win of the year.

The tournament also marked the end of one era and ushered in a new one.  New coach Brent Nourse took over for recently retired Dave Wheelock. He ensured all the veteran players and thanked recently retired coach Dave Wheelock for the same, stating, “What we saw out there today is clearly the result of Dave’s coaching over the years.”

– NMT –