November 11, 2013
Hooray! What a prestigious, glorious event! Of course I am talking about the annual Thunderbird Rugby Invitational hosted at Thunderbird School of Global Management. This year’s tournament involved a new, much more competitive group of clubs from the Phoenix area due to limited availability by traditional participants. In addition to the Thunderbird RFC squad, Phoenix RFC, Camelback RFC and Red Mountain RFC all made an appearance. The tournament was round-robin style and kicked off at 10am on Saturday, Nov. 9.
The tournament began with a very solid Red Mountain team, who ended up making quick work of an undermanned Phoenix squad. The second and third matches of the day featured Thunderbird RFC in a back-to-back scheduling error against the host team. First up, Thunderbird took on a strong Camelback team and played very fundamentally strong rugby. The scrums were dominated by the blue and white, encouraged by outstanding hooking from Veteran Luis Vidal and Rookie Colin Agnew. Rookie back Nikhil Nair excelled throughout the day with great tackles, beautiful rucks, and the first try of his young career when he chased and pounced on a grubber in the try zone. Successful conversions on all tries by Rookie forward Bryce Jahner helped secure the win as Thunderbird was victorious 28 – 14.
After a ten-minute break, Thunderbird was back on the pitch against Phoenix RFC for a war of defensive attrition. A relatively young, inexperienced group started the match to allow others to catch their breath. A brave showing on defense by the new ruggers and a quick thinking try by President Jay Stahlman had Thunderbird up 7-0 at half time. In the second half, Thunderbird came out strong to dominate a Phoenix club depleted by injuries. An iconic, full-pitch sprint try by Veteran Steve Preator and a great, flowing try capped of by Rookie Nikhil Nair on the wing helped the club solidify a 17-10 victory just before lunchtime.
The next match saw Red Mountain defeat Camelback, which meant that the final match of the day (Thunderbird vs. Red Mountain) would determine the winner of the TRI Cup. The Phoenix squad was forced to forfeit their final match against Camelback due to injuries, so the grand final kicked off at 3pm.
Thunderbird kicked to start the match, but jumped out to a 12-0 lead thanks to a fortuitous scrum and some friendly refereeing. However, Red Mountain, being the most experienced side at the tournament, did not back down from the challenge. They strung together two impressive tries with some very good play out wide to take the lead in to halftime at 14-12. The second half saw some incredibly scoring plays thanks to some mental errors and poor tackling from tired ruggers. With about 5 minutes left, Thunderbird was on the wrong end of a 26-12 spread when the unthinkable happened. We shot back with two consecutive tries, the first off a Red Mountain scrum that we won and immediately ran for a try followed by a one play try off the ensuing kick. Two conversions meant the score was all tied up at 26-26 with only seconds remaining. Unfortunately, the clock struck midnight on this Cinderella story when a Red Mountain winger back broke five tackles for the game-winning try on the last play of the tournament.
Despite the crushing defeat in championship match, Thunderbird was in quite good spirits at The Australian during the tournament social. It was an invaluable experience for a club that has grown by leaps and bounds this trimester and a significant building block on which to continue to grow when we pick back up in the Spring.
Before I pass the torch to the next leadership team, I’d like to take a moment to say thank you to my current group of leaders and all of the ruggers, supporters, and alumni who have made the Fall 2013 campaign a wonderful success. I believe the club is in a great position for future growth, both on and off the pitch, and I look forward to being an active member of the alumni association for years to come.
President, Thunderbird RFC
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.
SAVE-THE-DATE – Halloween Bash 2013!
GOGOs and the Rugby clubs are excited to co-host the annual Halloween event this year. Find your costumes and mark your calendars today!
Date: Friday November 1, 2013
Time: 9:00 PM – 1:00 AM
Location and Pricing: More Information Coming Soon
Join the T-bird community for the best night of the fall trimester!
Please extend the invitation to spouses and friends.
Intra-Squad Scrimmage Summary
September 21, 2013
On a beautiful Saturday afternoon, the Thunderbird Rugby Football Club kicked off the Fall 2013 season with a friendly intra-squad scrimmage. In all, 38 ruggers turned out after exams to compete, allowing us to play three 20-minute periods of 15s rugby. Learning was the theme of the day as the match provided roughly 60% of the club with their first rugby game experience. As one may expect, tackles were a bit high and rucking was a bit sloppy, but the most common refrain following the match was how much the new blood enjoyed the experience. All veterans know that rugby is a sport you learn by playing, and there was certainly plenty of playing time to go around.
The outcome, while rather insignificant, was a 33-21 victory for the Blue squad over the White squad. After jumping out to a quick 10-0 lead, the white squad began to fade as injuries and lack of conditioning took their toll. Some quick thinking by veteran players Oliver Holmes (UK) and Steve Preator (US) helped the blue side storm back to take the lead 21-10, before the two sides traded tries to finish out the match.
Following the match, the club and some select supporters went over to the Fish for a social event consisting of hot dogs, adult beverages, music and good company all compliments of the rugby club. At the social event, new ruggers were initiated as official TRFC members with the classic Beer Slip’n’Slide, followed by a quick jump in the pool and some good ol’ rugby songs late into the night. Also at the event, each team announced their man of the match: veteran back Ryan O’Neal for the victorious Blue squad and newcomer forward Bryce Jahner for the White squad.
The club’s next opportunity to test their metal on the pitch comes on October 5 at the Flagstaff 10s tournament where the club is considering entering two squads, depending on turnout.
Keep on ruckin’
September 21 – Inter-Squad Match
September 28 – Red Mountain RFC
October 5 – Flagstaff 10s Tournament
October 12 – ASU III
October19 – Peoria RFC
October 26 – Camelback RFC*
November 9 – Thunderbird Rugby Invitational
November 16 – Phoenix Storm*
Allocate $21 and the club will provide your own rugby shorts and socks (a $30 value)!
We look forward to seeing you on the pitch!!!
2013 TARA Rugby Tour – Live TV Coverage from Montenegro!
The Thunderbird Old Boys RFC depart next Friday 8/30 for a two-match tour of Croatia and Montenegro.
Photos and stories will be posted on Facebook, and twitter updates as well.
Chuck Hamilton ’91
Thunderbird Alumni Rugby Association