Red Mountain RFC vs. Thunderbird RFC
October 26, 2013
After a very successful career week, full of professional development and networking opportunities, the rugby club returned to the pitch excited for an opportunity to measures ourselves against superb competition. It must be noted that, due to career treks and a week with limited obligations, the club was missing several key contributors. Regardless, we were ready and willing to fight for glory, and were buoyed by the presence of alumni ruggers David Snowden (’12) and Ian Shiller (’13) in town as recruiters from Michigan-based Delphi Automotive.
Red Mountain showed up in force with about 20-25 ruggers and a travelling fan base that far outnumbered the Thunderbird faithful. The club consisted of maybe 5 or 6 rookie ruggers and several large, Polynesian veterans: just enough inconsistent production to be labeled as a “B” side. Meanwhile, Thunderbird had about 17 ruggers present, limiting our ability to substitute and testing our fitness level. The match kicked off at noon and we agreed to play two 30-minute halves.
The match began rather inauspiciously as both squads struggled to gain momentum. Field position was key, and after some fundamentally sound rugby that included several winning scrums and lineouts, Thunderbird took the as President Jay Stahlman jumped on the ball after a penalty, took a quick restart, and dove in for a try between three Red Mountain forwards. At halftime, the score was tied at 5-5. The second half was a war of attrition and ultimately the size and strength of the visitors prevailed. Thunderbird’s discipline and cooperation made it a very close competition, much closer than I think a lot of people were expecting, but ultimately a tired squad fell to after conceding a try in the last five minutes, losing 22-15.
At the end of the day, it was this match was a fantastic learning opportunity for the squad and a great confidence booster. The team now knows that by playing together and supporting each other, we can compete with even the top teams in the valley. This next week will be used to prepare for the annual Halloween fundraiser party, followed by the Thunderbird Rugby Invitational on November 9.
Photos taken by the Rugby Queen, Tsvetelina Dincheva
We are pleased to announce that The Australian is now the official bar Thunderbird Rugby Football Club after agreeing to sponsor the team for the 2014-2015 seasons.
The Australian will now appear on the new club jerseys, to be printed in December, and all after-match social events will be held at the bar.
Please check out their website at http://www.theaustralianaz.com/.
Oct. 19 – Thunderbird vs. Prescott Black Sheep
By Jay Stahlman
On a beautiful, sunny Arizona Saturday, the Thunderbird Rugby Club took to the pitch to test our grit against a rag-tag group of guys from Prescott. Being our first competitive match since the tragic accident to one our rugby brothers at Flagstaff 10s tournament, the team was naturally a bit uneasy during pre-game warm-ups. However, I was extremely proud of the courage our boys showed throughout the day. It was truly an inspiring display of teamwork and cooperation as we dominated the 70-minute match from start to finish 38-7.
Prescott arrived a bit under-manned as only 13 people were able to make the trip. We accommodated them with three whores to make for an especially friendly, competitive environment. We could not have written a more perfect start to the match, as we forced an immediate turnover after the kick and marched straight down the field for a powerful try by rookie forward Bryce Jahner. At the end of the first 30 minutes, Thunderbird led 19-7 with especially strong play from veteran forward Chase Ficklin and Captain Matt Erley, who was later named man of the match (but unfortunately feel short in the accompanying boat race).
The highlight of the afternoon was the development of our rookies as a group. The newcomers finally were able to put together everything we have been working on in practice to effectively run, ruck and scrum without penalties. We will continue to work on defensive cohesion and executing line-outs, but overall I am very optimistic about the direction of the club and the talent we can field each weekend. That being said, Thunderbird faces a very difficult test this upcoming Saturday (Oct. 26) against Red Mountain RFC B Side, a local semi-professional team.