April 24 marked the 50th annual Occidental-Loyola Marymount rugby game. Although the Tigers were not victorious this year, it was nevertheless a valuable experience for the team. The two schools share the oldest rugby rivalry west of the Mississipi and fully intend to continue the tradition for many years to come.
“We are aware that there’s a long tradition before us of people who have done well in this game,” hooker Thomas Egan (first-year) said. “There are also times where people may not have done as well, but we just want to continue honoring that tradition.”
Former Occidental rugby players have been known to return to watch these rivalry games. According to club president Andy Eichar (junior), about six members of the original 1965 team were present at the alumni reception held prior to the game.
“They fondly remember the game and interact with each other just like our team currently does,” Eichar said.
It is that same enduring team spirit that allows the friendly rivalry to thrive.
“Though it may be a rivalry game, it is a rivalry that is built out of mutual respect for the other team, not hatred,” Eichar said. “Things get heated on the field, but off the field we are able to celebrate the game we love together without hostility.”
Occidental started off strong with prop Gabriel Watson (first-year) scoring the first try. Fly-half Anthony Zepponi (junior) and flanker Dave Miyamoto (junior) followed suit, each scoring an additional try for a 15-0 lead by the end of the first half.
However, the Tigers were unable to hold on to their lead during the second half. With eight minutes remaining on the clock, they were down by six points with a score of 15-21.
“We had it in our control, and then it started to unravel,” Eichar said. “We came so close to taking it back, but it just was not our night.”
Full-back Jamison Howard (sophomore) dove for the ball to score a final try in the last few minutes of the game, bringing the score to 20-21, but it was not enough. The Lions won by a mere point, claiming the narrowest of victories.
“I think that this game was reflective of our season as a whole,” Eichar said. “We had the guys with heart and skill on the pitch, but they are still learning the game, and the only way to learn is to play.”
According to scrum-half Logan Justice (sophomore), rookie first-year players make up much of the current team. Despite not knowing how to play rugby upon first joining the team, they have come far since the beginning of this season.
“Although the win would’ve been nice, I’m just proud of the entire team and the fight we put up,” Justice said. “It was by far the best performance on the field we’ve had all season.”