Tech Rugby Results a Mixed Bag in Arizona
New Mexico Tech's rugby clubs visited Flagstaff, Ariz. over the weekend for the 32nd annual Northern Arizona Tens tournament, returning with contrasting records. Traveling as a full team since the re-emergence of women's rugby at Tech a year ago, the Queens showed improvement and commitment while dropping decisions in all three of their collegiate women's division matches. After an off-year in the 2011 tournament, the Pygmies returned to their accustomed dominance in 10-a-side by winning all three games to claim the championship of a depleted four-team men's college field.
The Pygmies led off with an easy 66-7 win over Northern Arizona University's second team. Senior fullback Isaiah Sanchez once again displayed his mastery of open field running by scoring two five-point tries and serving up two more with perfectly-timed passes for teammate Ben Long to touch down. In addition to Long's hat trick of three, tries were scored by Jerod Aragon, James Chavez, Jordan Fastle, and rookies Even Elizondo and Darien Williams. Fastle connected on a remarkable seven of his eight conversion kick attempts, all via the drop kick method.
In the eight-team women's field, the Queens found themselves facing Pacific Rugby Union open division contenders Las Vegas Slots in their first match. Overmatched in experience and size, the Queens went down battling 40-0.
On an adjacent field the Pygmies kicked off to NAU's first team and quickly gained control, sweeping to an 18-0 halftime lead on two tries by Sanchez, a penalty kick by Fastle, and a try just before the half by Enrique Koerdell, who was returning from an injury after two weeks. Sanchez completed his hat trick in the second half, joined by Jerod Aragon's second of the day. James Chavez led the forwards with sure tackling, hard runs, and forceful clearing of the rucks and first-year man Darien Williams also proved his mettle. With a 28-0 lead, Tech took the foot off the gas and NAU responded well by taking two late tries for a more respectable 28-12 final score.
The Queens played another, slightly less accomplished Las Vegas team in their second match, but the Lady Black Jacks had the firepower to pull away in the second half for a 29-5 victory. First-season wing/fullback Cassidy Coleman touched down her first try for an early Queens lead before the much larger Utahans wore the Queens down.
The men's collegiate final featured a surprisingly strong Thunderbird Global School of Management team and New Mexico Tech. The New Mexicans picked up where they'd left off, playing a wide-open attacking game to race to a 12-0 halftime lead. Fly half Brock Romero ran diagonally across the defense before threading a perfect pop pass to Sanchez, who streaked through untouched for Tech's first try. Enrique Koerdell then scored after a prolonged phase of ball control, including some well-timed charges by hooker Ryan Johnson, forced a crack in Thunderbird's defense pattern. Jordan Fastle was good on one of the conversion kicks.
Koerdell scored again early in the second half after another prolonged Tech attack and Romero added the two-pointer for a seemingly unassailable 19-0 lead. But the Thunderbirds had other ideas and put over their first try to pull within 19-5. The Phoenix club had discovered Tech's weakness in covering the width of the field and they took advantage to rapidly score two more tries to pull even at 19-all with little time remaining. But their hopes were dashed after the Pygmies carried play into Thunderbird's end of the field and following a tackle Darien Williams flipped a quick pass to Sanchez, who got around the defense to seal the deal for Tech. Fastle's conversion was a formality and brought Tech's margin of victory to 26-19. The Queens finished with their best showing although co-hosts NAU Timberdoodles came away with a 17-5 win. Again Tech faded slightly in the second half, allowing NAU to run in the decisive scores. Captain and club president Lynnae Logan got the try for Tech.
Following an open date, Oct. 13, the men's team will host the NMT alumni rugby squad, the Ancestors, in the annual 49ers Black and Blue match. Play will kick off at 4:30 on Friday, Oct. 19, at the NMT rugby field. The Queens return to action Nov. 3 as hosts to Northern Arizona University Timberdoodles.