Monthly Archives: April 2012

Club Awards Dinner Set for April 24, 2012

University of Memphis Rugby Club Awards Dinner is set for Fresh Slices in midtown on April 24, 2012. All current dues paying players eat for free.  Dates/friends $20.00.  Menu includes choice of steak, chicken or fish… and all drinks are included.

All players, Old boys and friends of U of M Rugby are invited to join the festivities as we celebrate the successes of the past year, and honor the players who made the year so enjoyable.

Just let me know if you are planning to attend and if you are bringing a guest so we can plan properly.  When you RSVP, let me know if you want to eat Sirloin Steak, Pasta Chicken or Grilled Halibut.   RSVP to or text to 482-3721. We can add or subtract a few players, but I need to know how many to plan for with the restaurant.

Besides awards, there will be a short business meeting where the players will be choosing next year’s officers and captains.

Attire:  Wear a sport coat or suit.  No tie required.  Yes… we are dressing up for this occasion.

Fresh Slices

1585 Overton Park Avenue

April 24, 2012

6:30 Drinks

7:15 Dinner

Tigers Outlast Bulldogs 22-21

The Memphis Tigers traveled to Starkville last Saturday to take on the Bulldogs of Mississippi State University.    The day was beautiful with a clear sky, 79 degrees and only a brisk wind to make the day challenging.  The Tigers were prepared to take on an SEC powerhouse and the lads felt up to the challenge.  The Tigers opted to go into the wind the first half, hoping that the wind would be kind in the second half.

However, the Tigers blinked… and the Bulldogs struck first.  Only 4 minutes into the match, the MSU center broke two tackles and dove over the try line to take 5 points.  The kicker notched two and the Tigers were down 0-7. This slap in the face woke up the Tigers.  The Tigers gathered themselves, tightened up the defense, and went back to work.

The play was fierce, but the Tigers seemed to be making the best of the loose play with the ability to put together several phases of play in a row with no answer by the bullies.  On defense, we were stealing their ball at the breakdown, mostly taking it out of their hands.  Several players (Josiah, Joshua, Aimeer and Ryan) were seen leaving a red maul with ball in hand.  The only problem that the Tigers had was the scrum, where they outweighed us by 40 lbs in the front row.  However, after 20 minutes of adjustments, the scrums settled and the tigers were back to a draw in these set pieces.

The Tigers dominated the lineouts.  The bulldogs had no answer for Kian and his lifters, who looked more comfortable as the day proceeded.  Whether it was a short lineout, quick off the top, or a pick and drive, the Tigers had complete control of this aspect of the game.

The Tigers spent quite a bit of time knocking on the door and gold came with 13 minutes left in the half, when Simren Dhaliwal connected with a sweet backline play started by fill-in flyhalf, Justin Walden.  Walden had worked with Tarek and Jay to bash up the middle, and it was getting soft.  When Walden sensed that the middle was oversupported by the fullback and wingers, he took the ball wide, involving Anthony and Scott in the play.  Finally the ball was popped to Simren at wing who kicked in the after burners, taking the ball to the southwest corner.  The kick was impossible in the wind.  Tigers still down, but feeling better… 5-7.

The Tigers keep up the pressure and it was obvious that they were much more fit than their counterparts.  The State pack was walking, and their backline coverage was in disarray.  With six minutes left in the half, Joshua found his chance.  With some nimble footwork, he picked his way through several tacklers and pounded the ball in the try zone.  Tigers feel better going into the half up 10-7.

Starting the second half, the Tigers are feeling better about their play and believe the wind and their fitness will help open up the game.  However, 8 minutes into the second half, it is State that finds the tryline and the Tigers are down again 10-14.

The fitness that the Tigers bring to the match is marginalized by multiple stoppages of play by the referee who is taking time to explain and teach on each breakdown.  The Tigers press where they can (lineouts and penalty kicks) but the scrums take up to 2-3 minutes to set providing the Bullies the break that they need.

Finally, on a great run midway through the second half, Simren somehow finds the handle of the ball that bounced off his chest after the inside pass from Scott, and finds his way to the try line.  The kick is still not good (dang wind) but the Tigers are again up 15-14.

Oops… not so fast.  It is State that applies pressure, and on a long breakaway run that collects a penalty close to the Tigers line.  With a quick tap and a fast ruck, the MSU boys break over and notch another try under the posts.  The kick is good… and the Tigers are again behind.  15-21

(This is the point where Coach Cole is about to lose his mind, and starts pulling his hair out by the roots.)

The Tigers are not to be outdone.  They know time is short and press like mad. They have the formula, punch the middle and swing to the outside where we have the speed. Following a quick ruck at midfield, Walden swings the ball to Nolan Wilson on the wing.  He tears down the sideline but there are players blocking his path.   He kicks ahead perfectly at the 30 and Scott tears forward to find the ball.  It bounces hard and high, Scott leaps into the air, grabs the ball and slams it to the ground.  The ball goes flying as bodies crumble in the try zone.  The referee did not see the ball touched down.  The try is not awarded.  The coach is heartbroken.

Intensity continues to ratchet up.  Every tackle, ruck, maul and set piece is powerful and fierce.  The Tigers are not holding anything back and they pound away at the MSU defense.  Several try their hand at crashing through including Walden who is stopped with an illegal hit at the three.  When Tigers take one against the head at the 10 meter line, Kian attacks with a full contingent of forwards.  Bashing forward the maul falls into the try zone, but the referee cannot see who, or if the ball was downed.  Still no try awarded.  Tigers are now attacking on the 5 meter line with time running out.  Unfortunately, State gets a break and clears the ball out.

The Tigers use their lineout play to set a maul that drives forward 10 meters before it is stopped.  Quick ball to the backs and they are on attack.  Second phase, third phase, fourth phase and finally…. Aimeer McCrary has the ball with 20 meters to run, three people to beat and a full head of steam.  He breaks two tackles and looks dead in the eyes of a winger, who really doesn’t want any piece of Aimeer.  Aimeer dives over to take 5 points under the left post. 19-21.   Joshua is called on to kick the conversion for the go-ahead.  Coach Cole cannot breathe.  The kick is good and the Tigers are up again, 22-21.

There is only one minute left on the clock when the Bullies run to mid stripe and kick off deep.  The Tigers set the best maul of the day from a kickoff and drive forward.  As the maul falls forward and breaks apart, the referee calls “not releasing” What???  A penalty with almost no time on the clock…. 30 meters from the goal line.  A kicker who has not missed all day, steps up to take the kick.  He is kicking almost directly into the wind and as he tees up the ball, the wind slacks off.  (Can this be?)  However, the wind picks up again and is blowing even harder, blowing the ball from the tee.  He resets the ball and readies for the kick.  (I cannot look.)

The ball is struck well and flies true.  It is heading inside the right post, but then a wind gust slows the ball… and it drifts.  Is the kick good?  The MSU fans leap to their feet in celebration.  However, the touch judges have one flag up and one flag down.  There is no whistle from the referee.  The kick is wide right.

The crowd is confused.  Phil gathers the ball and asks the referee if the game is over if the ball is kicked to touch.  The referee does not answer.  Phil drop kicks to touch, and the referee ends the match.  The coach has fainted.  Kian had chosen to take the wind in the second half.  Great call.

I don’t like to win this way.  I’d rather the nice safe 30-40 point lead, but a win is a win… and a win over MSU, with their rugby traditions and 8 seniors, is a really good win for the Tigers.   The Tigers go 8-2 in collegiate play.  (Someone call Goeff Calkins. This is news.)



Points scored:  Simren Dhaliwal 10, Joshua Campbell 7, Aimeer McCrary 5

Man of the Match – Simren Dhaliwal, Best Back – Justin Walden, Best Forward – Aimeer McCrary

Referee: Shane Harris

Side:  1. Will Fitts 2. Josiah Shipley 3. Aimeer McCrary 4. Ryan Phillips 5. Jonathan Bauer 6. Adam Hairston 7. Josh Campbell 8. Kian Koleini 9. Phil Elliott 10. Justin Walden 11. Willie Lacey 12. Tarek Ghwaji 13. Anthony Smith 14. Chris Tapp 15. Scott Smith 16. Thomas DiFillippo 17. Lee Downing 18. Nolan 19. Simren Dhaliwal 20. Jay Mac Donnchadh

Cobb Presents in Vancouver Academic Conference

Chris Cobb will miss the match this weekend to present a paper at the American Educational Research Association (AERA), one of the most prominent and prestigious educational research groups in the world.  This years meeting will be in Vancouver, BC and will provid an opportunity for Chris to meet fellow researchers from around the world.

Chris’s paper was accepted following a review of over 11,000 submissions.  In addition to getting accepted to present at the annual conference, the study also took 2nd place at the Student Research Forum, the highest place of any group of authors that are solely comprised of students.

Much like rugby, the race to be a successful education researcher is incredibly competitive.  Four U of M student researchers were able to beat significant odds to have their study accepted into the annual conference in Vancouver.  The study is the first and most successful in a project of studies called the Math and Mindsets projects.  The following is from the abstract of the accepted study:

The authors developed a structural equation model based on Bandura’s (1986) social cognitive theory which posits that a person’s behavior is influenced by both individual factors and social-contextual factors.  The model informs our understanding of the nature of the relationship between the social-contextual factors and individual factors as they relate to math achievement in high school students.  Individual factors including self-beliefs (math self-efficacy and implicit theories of math ability) and math behaviors (persistence and effort) were identified as mediators of the relationship between school climate and math achievement.  The current study utilizes data from 16,197 10th grade students from the base year of a nation-wide dataset, the Educational Longitudinal Study of 2002.

Chris is joined with fellow authors Thomas Hamlet, Katherine Wright, and Caro Hart in authoring the paper. We are extremely proud of our fellow rugger and wish him well this weekend.

Roop Financial Supports 2011-2012 Tigers


Walter Roop heard about the success of the 2011-2012 Tigers and was present at our win over Ole Miss last fall.  He was so impressed with the energy and athleticism that he saw on the pitch that he decided to get behind the Tigers with full support.

Walter, a founding member of the Memphis State University Tigers of 1983, provided gold support for the University of Memphis Tigers for the 2011-2012 academic year. The Tigers used the sponsorship to purchase a new set of jerseys for the club.  The Kian Koleini presented a jersey to Walter at their recent match where the jerseys were inaugurated in a 55-17 win over Harding University, inviting him to be an honorary member of the team.   He wears the #8 jersey that he wore while a member of the MSU team.  

Walter is seen approaching a kick (right) in a news article announcing the newly formed MSU Rugby Club.

As one of the top financial services companies in Germantown, Roop Financial helps people create coordinate money management plans that bring financial peace-of-mind. The financial advisors at Roop Financial Services, Inc. specialize in helping clients in transition (receiving an inheritance, in the midst of retirement, 401k rollovers, income planning and employee benefit planning). They also work with small business owners establishing retirement plans and competitive employee benefit strategies. Walter brings the same passion for client services as he carried on the rugby pitch.

Roop continually analyzes industry trends and survey data in order to provide their clients with the most current advice. They use their knowledge and negotiating power to offer some of the best products and at the most competitive rates.

Walter produces an excellent financial e-newsletter that is free to subscribers.  To receive the newsletter, just contact Roop Financial.

The Tigers are very grateful for the support of Walter and all the others who have gotten behind the Tigers this year, and encourage all Tiger friends and family members support those who have helped us this year.  To know who is behind the Tigers, check out our supporters page and follow their links.

Tigers Add MTSU and Miss State to Spring 2012

The Tigers add two fixtures to round out the spring season.  For April 14, the Tigers travel to Mississippi State to play Mississippi State.

Mississippi State plays in the Southeastern Collegiate Rugby Conference and played rather well during their season this year.


To finish the spring, the Tigers will take on Middle Tennessee State University at home on April 21.  MTSU is in the independent South conference and played rather well this spring.  When the Tigers last met MTSU they had played Nashville men’s team prior to our match and we took them on Phil Elliott’s boot.  Both teams have matured over the  year and this looks to be a significant challenge for the boys.

Tigers Roll over Harding!

The Tigers fresh from their lesson in rugby in North Carolina at the hands of East Carolina rolled past Harding 54-17 in a hard fought match on a beautiful day.

However, before the kickoff, there were things to sort out.  (Yes… this is rugby.)  When we got to the pitch, there was an Indian festival going on (not American Indians, but India Indians. They were engaged in a celebration where they painted each other, then used the water hose to make mud in the middle of our pitch where they could frolic.  (Freaked me out when I saw the muddy field.) Couple that with a late arriving team and you can see why I was worried that this game might not go off.

The Tigers were in their new jerseys for the first time and were committed to properly introduce them to Tiger Rugby.  Tigers love to win and they win the right way.  Captain Kian Koleini handed out the jerseys in the locker room before the game and charged the team with the responsibility of starting these jerseys off properly.  “We must win this game”, said Kian.  “We cannot disgrace these new jerseys.”  He cast a vision for the boys… and they rose to the occasion.

Finally we kicked off at 3:30 and got things rolling.  The Tigers took their time in the first half figuring out what we could use for attack for the day.  Several inside crashes were used to soften the opposition backs with good result.  Unfortunately, Harding scored first, six minutes into the game, on a nice move with the 8 supported between the fly half and inside center.  He crashed over two tackles after getting quick ball from a ruck and the score was quickly 0-7 Harding.

Josh Campbell who seems to have a nose for the ball, scored next by taking the ball from the base of the ruck at the 10 meter line, and crashing over for the try.  The conversion was missed and we are now behind two points.  5-7

The play was tough and effective kicking moved us into scoring position.  At the 22nd minute, Scott filled in on a play that we have been working on in practice and caught the defense flat, he broke one tackle and was gone.  The fullback did not have a chance.  Scott, with a few effective swerves, was in for the try.  The kick is still no good.  (What’s up?)  Tigers up 10-7

Four minutes later Phil Elliott gets an opening and takes three points on a drop goal.  Tigers edge away at 13-7.

Josh Campbell on a hustle play on a hot day charges down a Harding kick, gathering the ball on one hop at the 20 meter line.  The Harding defense had no time to respond.  Josh gets 5 more for the day.  Phil adds two and the tigers are up 20-7.

The Harding defense stiffens and holds the Tigers scoreless for several minutes, but with one minute in the half, the forwards and backs work together at the end of a ruck to move the ball forward following tackles.  Chris Cobb gets the last pass with 50 meters of open field in front of him.  He tears down the south touch line and as the defense closes, he pours on what he has left and makes it to the tryline in the southeast corner.  Phil finally relaxed and dialed in, connects with the toughest conversion of the match.  Halftime score 27-7.

Harding can feel things slipping away and know they need to step up.  They respond by crashing over the tryline 13 minutes into the second half.  Tigers still on top 27-14.

It is obvious that Harding is frustrated, so the halftime talk is focused on a few adjustments in tactics, but more importantly, we need to keep our cool as they lose theirs.  That advice was heeded by the players and they tightened up for what was best for Memphis.  They were tighter and lower than they were in the first half, with better tackles and improved intensity.  The Tigers now are supporting each other much better in loose play and on a long run with several Tigers sharing the ball, Aimeer McCrary finally has the honors of slotting the points.  Jonathan Brewi drops for two on the conversion and the Tigers lead again 34-14.

Somewhere in there, Harding picked up three points on a penalty.  34-17

From that point, the Tigers turned up the heat, put a smile on their faces and had a blast!!! There were several quick trys in the last 15 minutes of the game reminiscent of the match we had with Harding at their house last fall.  Lee Downing started the scoring with some nice running combining power and agility.  Lee crashed over the line and Phil converts and the score rises to 41-17.

Jay Mac Donnchadh is the next to score.  It began with quick ball from the forwards, a swing pass from Phil, to Jay (outside) who dishes to Anthony (wing) who cruises the touch line and slides the ball back into Jay’s hands.  Jay finishes off, Phil converts and the score is 48-17.

In the waning minutes of the game, the outside is exploited again and the ball was moved from the scrum to Phil who clears to Jay, who hooks up with Anthony.  Anthony swerves to freeze the defender and pops the ball to Jay at full speed.  Jay is gone and another try is taken.  Phil slots two more for a final score of 54-17.

They boys played with style, finesse, grace and power.  Tiger rugby continues to live up to the tradition of excellence.  They retired to Ubee’s where they treated their coach to a birthday party.  The win was the best birthday present that they could have provided that day.

Game Summary:

Referee: John Sullivan

Man of the Match:  Anthony Smith (wing)

Best Forward: Chris Cobb

Scoring:  Phil Elliott 13, Josh Campbell 10, Jay Mac Donnchadh 10, Scott Smith 5, Chris Cobb 5, Aimeer McCrary 5, Lee Downing 5, Jonathan Brewi 2