Thursday, May 20, 2010

Pygmies End Season With Wins

By Dave Wheelock
Tech Rugby Coach

As New Mexico Tech rugby standouts Britt Catron, Marcus Chavez, and Nick Aldape passed from the Pygmy scene via graduation on May 15, their teammates were overcoming a slow start in the Celtic Sevens Tournament in Albuquerque to conclude their 2009-2010 season on a winning note. Combined with the Rio Grande Celtic Festival and Highland Games, the rugby tournament features seven players competing on a full-size pitch for two seven-minute halves.
The 2010 edition, staged at the International Balloon Fiesta Park, featured competitions in high school girls’ and boys’ divisions as well as women’s and men’s categories.
Hosts New Mexico Brujos took the men’s championship while the University of New Mexico captured the women’s title. Amy Biehl High School won girl’s high school honors and St. Pius won the boys’ division.
The Pygmies looked sluggish in a 9 a.m. pool match against Rio Grande Rugby Union men’s division leaders Albuquerque Aardvarks before bouncing back with wins over Midland-Odessa and the San Juan Silverbacks of Farmington.
Aardvark Dave Auge slipped a tackle on Tech’s opening kickoff and ran deep into Tech territory before being tackled. The Aardvarks had their first five-point try seconds after recovering the ball and passing it wide. The conversion kick (taken by drop kick in seven-man rugby) failed and Albuquerque led 5-0. Two minutes from halftime the Aardvarks bagged another try and converted this one for a 12-0 lead at the two-minute intermission. They went up 19-0 in the second half before Tech captain Royce Beaudry broke free to score a try converted by scrumhalf Dustin Webb that brought matters to 19-7. Aardvark scrumhalf Jon Grey added an insurance try just before full time to disappoint the Pygmies 24-7.
In their second match of the morning Tech applied more attacking pressure against an athletic side from Midland-Odessa. After four minutes Isaiah Sanchez outlegged the defense for a try converted by James Fallt, and Brock Romero scored from a pass by Webb after a break by Beaudry. Webb’s conversion kick brought the halftime score to 14 for NMT with the Flying Pigs still sniffing for the ball.
Beaudry added breathing space for Tech with a try converted by Webb before Midland-Odessa finally got untracked with two tries, the second converted. The Pigs’ effort was too little, too late and Tech advanced to their third and final pool match with a 21–12 victory. Midland-Odessa later supplied consolation to the Pygmies by beating the Aardvarks in their final pool match.
With an aggregate points differential (points scored minus points allowed) of negative eight, the Pygmies needed to run up some points to qualify for semifinal play. The San Juan Silverbacks unintentionally obliged, and though Tech’s final 54-0 victory failed to cover the spread, the Pygmies reveled in the effort. Six players scored five-point tries, with Beaudry and first-year man Zach Speer tallying two apiece. Joining in the feeding frenzy were vice captain Jerod Aragon, James Fallt, Brock Romero, and alumnus Tory Tadano, on loan from his current club New Mexico Brujos.
Head captain Royce Beaudry was selected by vice captains Jerod Aragon and Isaiah Sanchez as Tech’s Player of the Day.

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