Penn State Pulls Double at Big 10
Sunday Sep 27, 2009 in Amateur Competitions Division I Colleges
(Words and Photos by Brad Davis, bdavisphoto.net)
Both the Men’s and Women’s Penn State Rugby teams put on a display of teamwork, balance and discipline by each taking home the hardware for winning their respective Big 10 tournaments, held at the fine fields of the Moose Rugby Grounds in Elkhart, Ind. this weekend.
The women squared off in the opener against a scrappy Indiana University team lead by USA U20 selection Tyra McGrady. PSU scored early and often featuring tries by six different players in including the first and last try of the match by forward Lauren Poole, who gave credit to her team by saying “We just wanted to get back to playing our game of rugby. That’s what we do”. Poole’s efforts seemed to inspire her teammates to crank up the intensity of their balanced attack and hit IU with power and speed the entire match.
The IU squad didn’t go down without a fight worthy of taking place behind any woodshed in the Hoosier State. However, mistakes made seemed to stymie any effort of a comeback and the Nittany Lions defeated the Red Storm of IU 37 -10.
IU Head Coach Vaughn Mitchell gave credit to Penn State for playing a fundamentally sound match and capitalizing on his team’s mistakes. The loss doesn’t derail his plans for earning a third consecutive trip to Nationals this season.
The men’s match seemed like a replay of the earlier contest as The PSU club used a familiar balanced attack to defeat Notre Dame 28-11, led again by the dominant play of the forwards. The match featured savvy play from both sides complete with behind the back passes and pop kicks resulting in scores.
Notre Dame captain Jaime Urquijo tipped his hat to Penn State saying “They were fantastic. We (Notre Dame) played pretty well in the first half and went with to our strengths. In the second half we were a bit overwhelmed.” It showed as the Irish emerged from the half trailing 7-5, and allowed PSU to capitalize on three unforced errors ending in the lopsided score. Again, like the earlier match, the home state team from South Bend gave PSU grief all through the match and refused to roll over for their dominant opponents from the Keystone State.
Penn State Men’s Head Coach and Director of Rugby Operations Don Ferrell also acknowledged ND’s efforts.
“They played a tough game and came through a talented bracket to get here,” Ferrell said. “We got some go-forward from our forwards…and it made things easier for our backs to link up and finish.“
The accomplishments of his teams winning the men’s and women’s championships this weekend coupled with the progress both units displayed should make the long bus ride home this evening a little less painful.
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