On Saturday January 30th the rugby team left at 6:45 in the morning for New Orleans, Louisiana to play Brother Martin.
The previous year’s game was in Houston and the weather was cold and just a little bit rainy. When everything was all said and done, the Eagles had successfully routed Brother Martin.
The first game of the 2016 season was no different.
After a six hour bus ride, they arrived at the pitch and began to get ready. Warm-ups were underway and the place kickers were getting their golden boots moving. The world renowned hooped jerseys were the attire of choice, and they may nor may not have contributed to the fantastic play of individual players.
When the fat lady sang, the score was 98-0.
In rugby, each try is worth five points, and two extra points are awarded if the place kicker makes his kick. They were only one extra kick away from getting 100 points in a single game.
St. Thomas controlled the game from start to finish with Brother Martin only ever playing in the Eagles end for a few minutes. The defense was on point, making tackles left and right and winning the ball back in many rucks.
Offensively, it was a shootout.
Senior and Captain Josh Pane tied history by scoring five tries in a single game. Junior Griffin Maat was not far behind when he scored four tries. Combined, both players contributed 45 points to the total 98 points. The game was the fourth highest scoring game in the program’s history. The first being the 110-0 decimation of St. Pius in 2012.
For those wondering why the Eagles did not stop scoring on Brother Martin, this is not football. Coach Brett Mills told the team at halftime,
The game is constantly in motion, and a team cannot play keep away or “let up” on the opposing team. They cannot just run the ball up the middle and waste 30 seconds off the play clock. Brother Martin could simply not stop the Eagles when they had the ball.
Ruck after ruck and pass after pass the Eagles were moving down the field. Even when the forwards were just picking the ball up and moving, they would gain 10 or more meters every single time. Unlike last year, the backs were no strangers to the try zone. Four out of the seven starting backs scored one try, including Senior Josh Harris, Senior Derek Allen, and Sophomore Eli Young. Junior back up David Heffernan also scored a try in the closing minutes of the game.
Coach Mills said, “I was really excited about the way we played as a team. It is difficult to get off a long bus ride and play well. The players played unselfish and extremely physical.”
With a very decisive victory over rival Brother Martin, St. Thomas has gained momentum that will carry them throughout the season.
The Eagles have a long and treacherous journey ahead of them to reach their goals they set for themselves before the season began. But through times of pain comes adversity and that is exactly what the rugby team can do this. They have set their goals as high they can be such as returning to state championship form from years past.
Coach Mills and the entire coaching staff expect the absolute best from their players and the rewards for doing so will be fruitful with the hard work.