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SOCORRO, N.M. April 20, 2011 – First-year rugby club Las Cruces Horny Toads made the most of their local debut Saturday, winning championship honors in the Socorro Challenge Tens Tournament. With temperatures soaring into the upper 80s, the Toads remained unbeaten against teams drawn from three collegiate and men's clubs throughout their five-match share of a demanding day featuring twelve men's and two women's games.

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James Fallt (#9 in dark jersey) passes the ball from a scrum under the close scrutiny of his opposite number Aaron Cardiel of the Las Cruces Horny Toads.

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Referee Tudor Thomas of El Paso gives final instructions to the Pygmies before the opening kickoff of the Socorro Rugby Challenge on Saturday. Facing the camera are Tyler Fletcher, Graham Payne and James Fallt.

The Pygmies, whose spring season record falls to 6-6, next see action at home April 30 against the Santa Fe Santos. The Pygmies will be eager to beat a struggling Santa Fe 15 for the first time in Tech's 38-year rugby history. Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m. on the NMT campus.

The Horny Toads, composed largely of graduate New Mexico State University Chile players, showed their experience and athleticism as they ran away from their cross-town understudies in the final match 33-7.

Host club New Mexico Tech won just one of their five matches yet were consoled with Spirit of Rugby honors for outstanding teamwork and sportsmanship through a vote of the participating teams.

The Pygmies appeared distracted by the demands of preparing logistics for an all-day event which included live commentary, merchandise sales, and a post-tournament barbecue for the teams.

Tech fell behind early in three of their five matches, with notable exceptions being their 19-12 victory over eventual second-place finishers NMSU and a tightly-contested loss by the same score against the eventual champions in the first semifinal qualifier. The New Mexico Brujos filled out the field and finished in third position by beating Tech 12-5 in the consolation match.

NMSU's Lady Chiles and the NMT Queens provided variety and showed skill in two seven-woman matches. The Queens' Andrea Buckel was selected as an outstanding forward in the women's division.

Two Pygmies played their way onto the honorary all-tournament tens team. Veteran speedster and co-captain Isaiah Sanchez of Mora, N.M., was named to the honorary back line roster while James Chavez of Socorro got the nod at a forward position. Senior scrumhalf James Fallt of Denver also contributed strongly, highlighted by a skillful kick and chase try against NMSU that set the crowd alight.

– NMT –

By Dave Wheelock/Tech Rugby Director