SOCORRO, N.M. April 23, 3012 – It may have been a week too late for the New Mexico Tech men’s rugby team to be challenging a men’s club side. With many players passing on the club’s last scheduled match versus the New Mexico Brujos in Albuquerque, the Pygmies arrived with just 11 of the required 15. Thus the surprise was not that Tech looked like goners for most of the 80 minutes, but that they came back to nearly win. The final 39-36 score was fitting reward to the hosts for loaning Tech the requisite players to allow the match to commence.
Against the run of early play, Tech scored first when the hosts were whistled for offside. Scrumhalf Enrique Koerdell foot-tapped the ball and several passes later Joe Stanley crashed over the line for a five-point try. Flyhalf Jordan Fastle kicked the extra two points but the students’ lead was soon under attack. By the time referee Clint Richardson called for a water break after 20 minutes, the Brujos had scored a converted try and a 3-point drop kick to lead 10-7. They then added two more touchdowns to lead at the half 22-7.
The home team’s lead had ballooned to 27-7 by the time Pygmy wing Alex Malone sneaked over the line to make it 27-14, after the kick by Fastle. David Campese then scored the match’s masterpiece for the Brujos, fielding a brilliant chip kick and chase covering half the field, to put the home side up 32-14. Fastle replied for Tech with a try after one of fullback Isaiah Sanchez’s blistering counterattacking runs but couldn’t convert, and the teams went into the second half water break with the Brujos sitting atop a 32-19 lead.
Tech appeared dead in the water when the Brujos scored their sixth five-pointer to go up by 20 points with 15 minutes remaining. But the Pygmies, with a little help from their friends, came alive for one last college try (actually three, all touched down by loaned players) and 17 points during that time. Although the match ended with Tech threatening to actually take the lead, the Brujos were deserved winners by virtue of their show of sportsmanship toward the short-handed collegians.
Tech won just two of eight matches during the spring 2012 campaign, following an 8-9 season in autumn 2011. Following final exams and the graduation of four players on May 12, an as yet unnamed team will compete in the annual Celtic Seven Man tournament at Albuquerque’s Balloon Fiesta Park on May 19.
– NMT –
By Thomas Guengerich/New Mexico Tech