Woodlands Rugby goes 15-0, Wins Texas State Championship
Following an undefeated season, the Woodlands Youth Rugby Club has been crowned the Rugby Texas state champions.
The Woodlands season started back in January with a pre-season win against Austin’s West Lake High School. Since that game the team has been on a roll, defeating all of their 10 regular season opponents and even winning against a touring rugby team from Wales. Senior coach Frank Rizzo said of the team, most who have been together for 4 years now, “They are all leaders. Playing at a very good level”.
Reaching the playoffs, the Woodlands had a tough quarter final game against Lake Travis High School. Lake Travis, a worthy opponent, has knocked the Woodlands out in the finals for the last two years. But not this year. On the day, in front of a large home crowd, playing a fast paced free flowing style that has been the characteristic of the team all season, the Woodlands won through 37-15, advancing the team to the finals in Austin.
Saturday saw the Woodlands play in a dramatic semi-final against Houston’s Cy Fair Warriors. The game was intensely physical and the lead changed several times. Cy Fair contained the Woodlands running play for most of the game. The Woodlands Alex Rayton, a High School All American U18 player, summed up the talented Cy Fair team saying “their forwards were a lot bigger, they were stronger. They were powerful. They were a great team to play against”. Trailing minutes before the final whistle, the Woodlands Matthew Myers made it across the goal line to clinch a dramatic last gasp 29-25 win.
Sunday saw the final against the Dallas Harlequins Colts. The Woodlands showed all of their skills, putting on a rugby masterclass to record an emphatic 48-15 win. Fly-half Kieran Farmer helped to launch continuous waves of fast running rugby. The Woodlands moved the ball around the field with flair, demonstrating what they had become after 4 years of commitment. Summing up perfectly the emotions of the entire team, captain Stijn Albers said “we were there last year and the year before, but this year we finally won it”.
Following the game Woodlands Head coach Phil Beck, retiring at the end of this season after 11 years at the helm, said “it feels awesome”. Eleven years ago “every game we lost and now here we’ve won every game. So it’s a great way to go out”. Speaking of manner of their victory he summed it up; “today is Woodlands Rugby, this is how we play”.
And for next season? Graduating senior Captain Albers said to the remaining players “keep working hard and stay disciplined”.
For those thinking of trying out Rugby new head coach Rizzo says that “rugby is the fastest growing youth sport in the US right now” and “it’s a lot of fun”. Woodlands Youth Rugby has around 250 players in teams for grade levels 1 through 12, for both boys and girls.
May 14, 2017 Clive Rayton