PHOENIX, Ariz. February 28, 2011 – The New Mexico Tech men’s rugby club won all four of their matches Saturday in the Thunderbird Tens Invitational in Phoenix. Tech balanced stout defense with an explosive passing and running game to score 131 points while allowing 24.


The Pygmies won the Thunderbird Tens February 26 and 27 in Phoenix. In front (from left) are Mario Naranjo, James Fallt, Isaiah Sanchez, Lance Hernandez, Marshal Spradley and Lenar Sakhapov.  In back are (from left) Jordan Fastle, Graham Payne, Blaine Trujillo, James Chavez, Emmanuel Hernandez, Jerod Aragon, Joaquin Roibal, Lorenzo Baeza, Cesar Esteban Venegas, Stephen Albritton, Brock Romero and coach Dave Wheelock. At top is Enrique Koerdell.

Scrumhalf James Fallt prepares to pounce as the ball emerges from a scrum in the title match of the Thunderbird Tens.
High-scoring forward Graham Payne crosses the try line for New Mexico Tech in action against the Thunderbird Golds in Phoenix Saturday. NMT won the six-team competition with a 4 win, zero loss record.

Tech will challenge the New Mexico Brujos in Albuquerque this Saturday, March 5. The Brujos are ranked No. 2 in the Rio Grande Rugby Union men’s club division. Kickoff is set for 2 p.m. at St. Pius High School.

The Phoenix tournament was played on the manicured grounds of the Thunderbird School of Global Management. Rugby tens features 15-minute halves in place of the traditional 40 minutes played in the traditional 15-man version of rugby. Six teams divided into two pools of round robin competition prior to afternoon playoffs for final standings.

The host club fielded two teams with other entrants coming from Prescott and Yuma, Ariz., the Anderson Business School of the University of California Los Angeles, and New Mexico Tech.

Tech’s Pygmies arose early Saturday morning to face the Thunderbird Blues in a 9 a.m. matchup. At 9:02 a.m. halfback James Fallt took the last of several passes to score the New Mexicans’ first five-point try.

Tech went on to a 29-5 win as center Marshal Spradley, lock Graham Payne, flyhalf Brock Romero, and then Payne again, all touched down. Romero kicked a brace of two-point conversions to account for Tech scoring.

Tech scored 26 second-half points to wallop Prescott’s Black Sheep 52-12 in their second match at noon. Enrique Koerdell scored the first and last of Tech’s eight tries, while head captain Isaiah Sanchez, Fallt, Romero, Stephen Albritton, Marshal Spradley and Jerod Aragon all joined in the feast. Romero and Jordan Fastle combined for six two-point conversion kicks.

Tech whitewashed Thunderbird’s Gold team 24-0 in their 2 p.m. semifinal. Payne scored Tech’s first try and assisted one scored by Fallt before Sanchez added two five-pointers in the second half.

Romero booted two conversions and Fastle added one. Meanwhile, Thunderbird’s Blues took the back door to the final following a draw between UCLA and Thunderbird’s Golds in the opposite bracket.

The Blues did slightly better against Tech in the final but were still beaten by a 26-7 margin. Lock forward Graham Payne underlined his rampaging form with his fourth try of the day while backline stars Romero, Koerdell and Sanchez also crossed the line. Romero was good on three of four conversion kicks to pad Tech’s victory.

– NMT –

By Dave Wheelock/Tech Rugby Director