Pygmies open 2012 season against stiff competition
Following just six practice sessions, the New Mexico Tech Pygmy Rugby Club got their 2012-2013 campaign underway at the Santa Fe Tens tournament over the Labor Day weekend. A contingent of 22 players with experience ranging from four years to two weeks tried out new 10-man combinations in a variation of the traditional 15-player game. Meanwhile, three members of the resurgent NMT Queens lent their talents to the Tucson Lightning in the women’s division.
At the end of a long, hot Sunday, during which time college teams in both women’s and men’s divisions were thrown into pools including far more experienced club sides, the Pygmies emerged with one win against two losses. Tech faced a particularly tough challenge by being assigned to a pool of four featuring the teams that would face each other in the championship match.
In the women’s division, Lynnae Logan, Jade Horton, and Michaela Rempkowski experienced the occasional frustrations that come with being among the few experienced players on a team that took a few lumps throughout the day. The Atomic Sisters of Albuquerque defeated the University of New Mexico for the women’s title in a late afternoon match.
The Pygmies squared off against eventual tournament champions El Paso Scorpions at 9:30 a.m. before temperatures that would reach the mid-90s began to soar. A Jordan Fastle penalty kick was all Tech could manage in a 29-3 defeat.
In the second match Aaron Long came off the bench to score the winning try with a minute remaining against the Clovis Rugby Club. The 19-12 margin was built on Tech’s first five-point try of the season, a first-half score by head captain Enrique Koerdell. Backline veteran Isaiah Sanchez added Tech’s second try in the second half and connected with the two-point conversion kick to produce the 12-12 deadlock broken by Long.
Techs’ third opponent was UNM, dramatically revitalized this year by a sizable influx of experienced Duke City high school rugby players. The Pygmies played well and led 14-0 at halftime on the strength of long-range breakaway tries by Romero and Sanchez. But the Lobos tightened up in the second half and raced to five unanswered tries on the strength of long kicks into Tech’s territory. The 35-14 result shocked Tech’s stalwarts and elicited vows to improve team fitness levels.
The Pygmies will test their fitness and more Saturday, Sept. 8, at Johnson Field on the UNM campus in a three-way scrimmage with the host club and the New Mexico State University Chiles. Match times are yet to be finalized but preliminary arrangements are for New Mexico Tech to play UNM in the opener and NMSU in the nightcap.