Author: Lizeth Castillo
On Saturday, Nov. 8, the Men’s Rugby team ventured out to Long Beach, California for another hard-hitting tournament in which the Blackshirts came out with a 1-2 overall score.
Unlike past tournaments where only 10 men played on the field per side, the Blackshirts played with a full team of 15, which posed a potential threat to the team as a whole. “Since this was our first time playing with a full 15 players on the field . . . we went in unsure of how we would play together,” Captain and Rugby Club President Paolo Cosulich-Schwartz (senior) said. Cosulich-Schwartz explained that the team was still developing newer players and was missing some veterans to work and football, which added to uncertainty.
The Oxy Blackshirts went up against UC Irvine (UCI), University of San Diego (USD) and UC San Diego (UCSD) – losing two games of the day’s three games to UCI and USD and coming out victorious against UCSD.
“Despite the record, we were very competitive against UCI and we should have won the game against San Diego,” Ian Nunley (junior) said.
“I actually had no idea about the tournament until a group of handsome guys came and got me at 7:15 in the morning, so I wasn’t very prepared,” Ian Boeheme (sophomore) said. “However, we have been practicing hard for the past couple weeks and were relatively well prepared for the tournament.”
In the first match of the day against USD, a DI school, the men put forth a great physical effort, making a few goal-lines and upping the team’s defense. Nevertheless, the Blackshirts’ offense fell short. They lost 7-0 to USD and later lost 31-10 to UCI. However, the team’s performance got increasingly better as it adapted to the playing styles of its competition.
“Although our first two games were shaky, we walked away from our third match feeling good about our performance,” Cosulich-Schwartz said. “It took us about a match and a half to figure out what we needed to do.”
By the end of the day the Blackshirts were working together as a team – an shift that presented itself in their 20-12 win against UCSD. “This tournament was definitely a good experience for our team – the new guys learned what real rugby feels like and the veterans what they need to work on,” Cosulich-Schwartz said.
“I was extremely satisfied with our team’s performance. I wasn’t expecting much given our lack of experience, but we played hard every minute of every match,” AJ Mata (junior) said.
“The tournament went well for us,” Boeheme said. “It isn’t about the record during the offseason, although the fortune and fame is nice, it is more about preparing ourselves for the season to start next semester. The team played well together and we have a clearer picture of what we need to focus on.”
The only major injury of the day involved junior John Fox. During the last match of the day, Fox tackled a UCSD player nicknamed “Panda,” an action that resulted in the UCSD player’s injury. “It was pretty terrifying, really. We all heard the guy yell when he went down,” Cosulich-Schwartz said. “I think Fox tackled him backwards over a guy on the ground and his knee just buckled.”
“In my opinion, the stand out performance of the tournament belongs to John Fox,” Boehme said. “In our last game, we were hanging on to a slim lead and he lit up a 300 pound kid nicknamed ‘Panda,’ I was very proud.”
According to members on the team, notable performances came from Blackshirt veterans Boehme and Rosny Daniel (senior). The performances of new players Sam Buckley (first-year), Fox, Nunley (who powered one over the try line for a score), and sophomore Javier Avalos were noted as well. Other key performances came from Nick Harrell (junior) and Zack Brandwein (junior).
“First-time try scorers were Nunley, Avalos and Walter Woodside (first-year). Rosny and Boehme are fantastic tacklers, and ‘hairless baby owl’ Boehme even scored on a dummy pass,” Cosulich-Schwartz said. “Our backs didn’t play particularly well, with many balls knocked on and missing flow and pace.” Mata disagreed.
“Everyone played hard and tried to play within the team game,” Mata said. “It was a great learning experience in terms of team chemistry.”
The Blackshirts are hoping to gather experience from this tournament to aid them in their next competition against Pepperdine on Nov. 22 in Malibu. “Our next match we will be much more conditioned and accustomed to the speeds of the game,” Boehme said. “This one tournament give everyone great exposure to the real game situations. We had a good number of guys with zero 15 [player] rugby experience.”
“There are still plenty of areas that we can improve on as a team, but for a lot of us, including myself, it was our first ever experience in getting to play 15 against another team and I think this tournament will provide a lot for us to build upon together,” Nunley said.
“We will continue training the way we have, except put a little more emphasis on the team play,” Cosulich-Schwartz said.
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