Cal Maritime Sinks Wayne State in NSCRO PacWest Region Championship
Report by Steve Cohen
On April 14-15, the NSCRO PacWest Region Men's Division 3 Championship was held at the magnificent Wayne Rugby Park in Wayne, Nebraska. California Maritime Academy and Wayne State College battled in high winds in the Sunday final. Cal Maritime led all the way to win 29-12 and earn the right to participate in the NSCRO National Championship at Infinity Park in Glendale, Colorado on April 28-29.
On Saturday, the first semifinal match was held under ominous skies, between the host Wayne State Wildcats and the University of Texas-Dallas Comets. Wayne State, the Great Plains RFU D3 Champion, qualified for this event by winning the November NSCRO PacWest Qualifier by beating Colorado College, the Eastern Rockies RFU D3 Champion, in the final. UTD had just finished an amazing inaugural first year of rugby with an improbable Texas RU D3 Championship. Led by long-time rugby coach Tony Wagner, UTD came north to Nebraska as a 'Cinderella' story. Unfortunately the "glass slipper" did not fit and Wayne State scrapped and clawed their way in the first half to take a command 34-0 lead. 2 quick tries in the first 7 minutes along with 4 late first half tries led scrumhalf Taylor Foster's 2 tries and the play of flankers Travis Erickson and Justin Johnson. Right at halftime, the ominous skies gave way to lightning and thunder under the key "30 second rule" and everyone - players, officials and fans alike - went to available shelters that were readily available in anticipation of the weather as part of NSCRO's lightning safety protocol. The delay lasted nearly 90 minutes. Both teams returned key to continue. UTD had regrouped and played a very solid second half scoring the first try of the second half on a fine run by center Nathan Sohadaseni (actually Dominice Presitia). Wayne State however replied with 2 tries of their own including one by standout flyhalf David Synnott. Final score 44-7 to Wayne State.
On a sunny Sunday morning, the Loggers faced the Comets for 3rd place. Whoever would have imagined that boys from Tacoma would battle Texans from Dallas and in the Great Plains of Nebraska....and then on a rugby pitch. Wow...pretty cool I must say. Both teams had something to prove after their Saturday loses. They both played inspired rugby and were evenly matched. UTD's flyhalf Vince Dutton kicked a penalty goal 4 minutes into the match while UPS flanker Nick Butterfield answered a few minutes later with a try scored from a lineout at the 5m line. Butterfield would dot down another at the 20 minute mark when he dove over with a rucked ball to give UPS a 10-3 lead. Just before halftime, UTD winger Luke Lewis found the goalline and scored a try. UPS led UTD 10-8 at halftime. Dutton opened the second half scoring with a 50 meter penalty goal and UPS regained the lead 11-10. Both teams began to open their benches and fought evenly until 15 minutes were left when Logger Mike Hammer scored to put give UPS the lead once again at 15-11. In the last 10 minutes, UPS took charge and scored 3 more tries and the match ended in UPS's favor 32-11. Both teams had accomplished a lot this season and should have a lot of pride in their accomplishments. Both teams were ably supported all weekend by fans including parents who made long trips to be there.