Monthly Archives: November 2012

Rugger Stunned by Father’s Surprise Homecoming from the War.

Senior rugby player for the University of Memphis Tigers, Ryan Phillips, played his last collegiate match in a solid win over Mississippi State University last Friday night.  Like so many other student athletes, Ryan plays for his college without both of his parents on the sidelines because one of them is deployed in the war on terror.

Bob Phillips, Ryan’s dad, trained as a Marine and is currently serving as a contractor helping rebuild Afghanistan.  He has been building fire stations and adding to the busy Bagram airport.  Deployed since February, Bob has only had a short week home in July.  He missed all of Ryan’s spring season games and all matches this fall.  Ryan was resigned to the fact that his father would not be able to see his last match and accepted it as a part of his sacrifice for his father’s service to our country.

However, Ryan’s father had other ideas.  Upon finding that he was scheduled to be sent home, he pulled some strings and was able to arrange for early release to make it home in time for Ryan’s last match.  Bob and his wife, Karen, decided to surprise Ryan by showing up at Ryan’s final match unannounced.  Coach Cole and team captain, Kian Kolieni, were notified of the surprise and decided to make Bob’s presence more dramatic.  A plan was hatched’

Before each match, Kian presents the jerseys singly to the starters as he charges his team for the match before them.  This day was already special since it was senior day, highlighting graduating players and thanking them for their service to the U of M Rugby Football Club.  Bob was hidden in the locker room just after player warm-ups… before the jerseys were passed out.  He was provided Ryan’s jersey.  As special words were spoken about each senior, all jerseys were passed out.   All jerseys except Ryan’s Number 5.

Kian mentioned that the number 5 had not been presented, then recounted Ryan’s contributions to the team over the past 4 years… his solid play, his leadership and mentoring of young players… Ryan laying the foundation for the team’s current successes. Finally, Ryan was told that his jersey would be presented by a very special person.  That was the cue.  Bob rounded the corner with jersey in hand.


Ryan, initially stunned and confused, lit up with surprise… and the shock turned to tears of joy.  As father and son embraced the team provided a rousing ovation of cheers and applause.  The team, already high as a kite, took the pitch with added energy.

To make the night even better for the Phillips family, Ryan scored the first try of the match… his first points of the fall season. The Tigers won the match 44-0.  However, the score does not reflect the fierce play of the day. Mississippi State is a powerful team, however, this day the Tigers were fueled by special memories of their seniors and of a father/son reunion.

Ryan graduates in a few weeks with a degree in history and political science, and is considering a degree in Law.

Logistics for Miss State

Kick-off: 8:00pm

Temperature at Kick-off:  44 degrees

Referee:  Alastair Twaddle

Starting side:  1. Dylan Carter 2. Josiah Shipley 3. Brandon Worley 4. Ryan Phillips 5. Chris Cobb 6. Joshua Campbell 7. Adam Hairston 8. Kian Kolieni (Captain) 9. Jonathan Brewi 10. Nolan Wilson 11. Justin Hale 12. J. C. Russell 13. Justin Walden 14. Tezman Mosley 15. Jay MacDonnchadh

Everyone gets to play.

Gather at the field at 6:30 taped, dressed and ready to warm up.

Social:  Ubees for burgers and fries, immediately after the match.  Free to players.  Guests $10.00 please.

Tigers Win Gold at Ozark Ruggerfest!

The Memphis Tigers won first place in the 2012 Ruggerfest by winning three matches in a row over the  weekend.

The Tigers started with Oklahoma State University Saturday at noon.  OSU had beaten the Bomber U-20 team earlier that day and were hoping to extend their streak.  They were bigger in their pack but slower. We have finally learned to run around the big boys, playing our game and not theirs.  Jonathan Bauer took his first points as a Tiger scoring a try late in the first half.  Other tries were scored by Josiah Shipley, Tezman Mosley, Jay MacDonnchadh and Phil Elliott (x2).  In all, six tries were scored by the Tigers with 4 converted by Phil.  OSU scored some in the second half while our Killer “B”s got some playing time.  Final score Tigers win 38-24.

The forwards used superior technique on larger players to get past them.  It was a pleasure watching Ryan Phillips and Chris Cobb flip large players out of a ruck giving us a chance at the ball.  We did a much better job throughout the weekend with our containment defense, a system we have been working on through the season.  The combination of attacking backs and covering forwards seems to be paying off.  The kicking game needs some work but we showed improvement.  I didn’t see a great counter in the match, but we did catch the ball and run toward support.

Next up was Pittsburgh State (from Kansas).  The game started with a penalty try at the 2 minute mark.  Phil kicked ahead into goal and the defense just grabbed Phil to prevent the try.  We confused them early and while they were confused, we poured on the gas.  Quick scores were made in the 5th, 12th, 14th and 23rd minutes of first half, three by phil and one by Brandon.  It looked like KSU had a good up and out defense but they forgot to play Phil.  He recognized this along with their failure to have a fullback in place.  Phil made them pay.

Phil slotted a penalty in the second half.  Joshua Campbell and Josiah Shipley took trys in the second half and Kasra converted. KSU picked up some points while our seconds were in the match.  Tigers finished the match 50-27.

Team dinner was at the Golden Corral restaurant.  The dinner cost $400, but the lads ate $1000 in food, easily.  It was a blast watching some of these lads put away the groceries.

Sunday team meeting at 9:00 set the expectations for the day.  We knew that we had a shot.  We were healthy, rested, fed.   The tension was palpable.  With perfect timing, Mimms cracked up the boys.  After a hearty laugh, we set our goal for the day and took off for the field.

The Bomber Academy (BA) is made up of U-20 athletes that the St. Louis Bomber Rugby Club is developing.  They are hearty, quick, fit and have good skills.  We felt we could handle them in the forwards, we wondered about the kicking game and in a 20 MPH wind (that was kicking up Sunday AM) we knew that kicking would be an important aspect of the day.  I was concerned about our backline defense, that was figuring things out, but was still not where it needed to be.

Bomber Academy were tough, but the Tigers were tougher.  Running into the wind, the Tigers scored first when Brandon Worley pushed over in the 4th minute.  Tigers demonstrated the ability to control the ball in the rucks and gave the backs lots of opportunities to probe for soft points in the BA backline.

We had some very nice backline moves on the day and scored in the 12th minute when at the 35th meter, we used the double x… Phil to Jay filling in who draws the wing over and then dishes off to Tez.  Looked like I drew it on the board.  At the 16th minute Freddy took a try on his wing following some nice ball handling by the line.  Freddy had some work to do to get in-goal, but dipped, stepped and took off.  They could not catch him.

Jay crashed the middle and dished off to Josh who ran through the remaining defense for a try in the 21st minute.  BA finally found the try line in the 25th minute when we made a mental error at the goal line. The last mental error of the day. Before the half, Josh took a quick tap at the 5 meter and dove through the legs and bodies of the opposition to place the ball on the try line in his fully extended hand.  (Just made it.)

Tigers up 25-5 at the half.

The second half was tougher.  BA decided to stop playing rugby and start fighting.  They were clearly frustrated with their inability to control the game and the frustration was on a consistent rise.  Players started taking punches, late hits and other aspects of foul play.  I was glad to say that the Tigers kept their cool and protected each other nicely.  DC took a players head off who was punching Cobb in the back of the head.  (All away from the play and no help from the AR.) Like I said, the lads were doing a nice job of looking after each other.

Joshua scored two more tries in the 12th and 27th minute to end the match.  Tigers win 37-5 and with it the tournament.

We were bruised but not beaten.  The wounds feel better when you are holding the gold.  The Tigers are collectively very impressed with their accomplishments, and they should be.  They have come a long way in two years and are looking for great things going forward.

I am very proud of the character that these young men consistently demonstrate.  They are a credit to their families, their college and themselves.  Whether it is a referee, opposing player or hotel staff they are dealing with, the lads conduct themselves in an exemplary fashion.  They consistently demonstrate the values that we cherish… integrity, courage, commitment, leadership, class and poise.

Memphis“A” Falls to MTSU, Killer “B”s Roll

When the Memphis Tigers met MTSU at home on November 3, they had great hopes for the afternoon.  MTSU, a conference opponent, would be our first test of skill at our matrix level.  The South Independent Rugby Conference (SIRC) is undoubtedly the strongest Conference in the southeast and Memphis is expected to compete.

The Tigers had learned our lessons well the previous week with ASU and were looking forward to bringing high intensity and new skill to bear against MTSU.  Unfortunately, it was not to be.  Due to mental errors and a few moments of concentration lapse, we did not pull it off.

Running into the wind, the Tigers dominated the first 20 minutes of the match at the set pieces and rucks.  Due to effective kicking, MTSU kept the pressure off of their goal line, but the Tigers would work the ball back into the red zone time and again.  It was a fair test against two fairly equal teams until MTSU overloaded the back line on the northeast corner and took a try at the 24th minute.

MTSU scored their second try straight over the top of a ruck while forwards were sliding to provide assistance to the backline.  MTSU took one more try before halftime to make the score 19-0.  Three tries and two conversions.  All three tries were mental errors. The Tigers headed to the in-goal to regroup.

And re-group the Tigers did.  After an attack at the kick-off, the forward pressure drove MTSU against their goal.  They were doing everything they could to stop the Tigers but the pressure was very intense.  The referee caught MTSU players offsides.  Joshua Campbell took a quick tap and headed for the goal line.  The Tigers take their first points 1 minute into the second half.

The Tigers had turned up the intensity and were bowling back the forwards.  But rugby is more than intensity, and we were having problems with coverage in the back line.  MTSU took trys in the 7th and 16th minute.

Finally, the Tigers showed they could run when Thomas Strickland was sprung for a try.  Jay MacDonnchadh bowled over a few folks to take one for himself. Phil Elliott converted the try. The Tigers had demonstrated that they could play with MTSU, but they ran out of time.  Final score MTSU 29, Tigers 17.   (Referee Eric Fleming)

The “B” match was a totally different story.  It was less of a rugby match and more like a track meet.  The B pack dominated the set pieces and loose play. The Tigers seemed to be able to score at will, putting up 55 points to MTSU’s 5.  Everyone wanted to get in on the scoring and the coaches had a hard time keeping up with who was in the match.

Here is the scoring breakdown for the “B” match:

4 minutes – Nolan Wilson passes to Freddy Hodges for try.  Conversion failed

7 minutes – MTSU scores try. Conversion failed

14 minutes – Nolan passes to Joshua who feeds Thomas Strickland for try. Conversion good

21 minutes – Jamie bowls over for a try. Conversion good

24 minutes – Joshua kicks ball ahead and recovers for a try. Failed conversion

27 minutes – Joshua scores a try. Failed conversion

Second Half

1 minute – Brandon Worley scores a try. Conversion good

9 minute – John Elmore scores a try. Conversion good

14 minute – Phil Elliott scores a try. Conversion good

22 minute – Cameron Wilson scores a try. Conversion failed.


The Killer “B”s dominated… demonstrating the depth of the Memphis program.  The future looks very bright.

Logistics for Ozark Tournament Weekend 11/10-11/2012

Memphis will play 3 matches over the weekend.  We will play Pittsburg State University at 12:15 on the main pitch, Oklahoma State University at 2:45 on pitch 3 and Sunday we will play The Bombers Academy U-20 (select side).

The tournament is at the Ozark Rugby Club home pitch which is private property.

Address to the pitch:  14301 Dineen    Little Rock, AR

We will stay at the Holiday Inn Express Airport Little Rock, AR

Hotel Address:  3121 Bankhead Dr Little Rock, AR 72206 – The hotel blocked a few extra rooms for parents.  Parents  need to mention the University of Memphis to get the $82.00 per night rate.  Call 501-490-4000 for reservations.   Hotel has an indoor pool, so bring your trunks to work out the soreness.

Room Assignments:  Coach Mimms is getting car and room appointments together now.  We’ll get the details worked out at practice on Thursday.

When we leave: We will gather at the Central parking lot at 7:00 am on Saturday to leave for Little Rock.  Construction on I-40 at Brinkley can have traffic backed up for as much as an hour, so we need to leave early.

Team Dinner:  Team dinner is planned at Golden Corral, probably around 6:00 pm.  (5001 Warden Rd  N Little Rock, AR 72116)  it is not real close, but it is a lot of food for $10.00.

Team meeting Sunday am in a meeting room at the hotel.  The exact time will set at dinner Saturday night.

Memphis Learns Lessons Well at ASU Rugby Seminar

The Tigers knew that going into ASU that we would have our hands full.  We did not know how we would fare, but knew that the exposure to a team of national championship quality would allow us to improve our game.  ASU did not disappoint.  They showed us where we needed to improve, but also showed us how far we had come this year.

Only one match was planned and the Tigers put out a strong side to start the match and planned to leave them there for the full 40 minutes. Our remaining players took on the second half.  This plan was to allow each player an opportunity to feel high pressure for 40 minutes and learn as much as possible.

The Tigers actually did quite well with ASU, holding them to 29 points in the first half.  The first 20 minutes the Tigers were competitive in set pieces and held their own in the rucks.  The Tigers spent too much time defending their half, in part because of the ASU attack and in part because of a tough head wind.  The Tigers have definitely learned a lot in the past year and demonstrated that they could handle themselves.

Thankfully, the Tigers got on the board in the second half by a crafty play and some speedy running by Tezman Mosley.

The Tigers will use these lessons as we continue to develop the skills we will need to compete in the SIRC.
































Memphis v. MTSU This Saturday

Saturday November 3, 2012

Two matches.  Each with two 40 minute halves

Kick-off:  1:00

First Match referee – Eric Fleming

Second match referee – Brad Cole

First Match side: 1. Dylan Carter 2. Ian Curry 3. Brandon Worley 4. Jonathan Bauer 5. Chris Cobb 6. Adam Hairston 7. Josiah Shipley 8. Kian Koleini 9. Jonathan Brewi 10. Phil Elliott 11. Justin Hale 12. JC Russell 13. Jay MacDonnchadh 14. Tezman Mosley 15. Scott Smith 16. Stephen Smith 17. Will Fitts 18. Joshua Campbell 19. Nolan Wilson 20. Anthony Smith

Second Match side: 1. Eric Ofinowicz 2. Jamie Perry 3. Stephen Smith 4. Ryan Phillips 5. Will Fitts 6. Tyler Clemmons 7. Joshua Campbell 8. Kasra Koleini 9. Phil Elliott 10. Nolan Wilson 11. Freddy Hodges 12. Anthony Smith 13. Cameron Wilson 14. Thomas Strickland 15. John Elmore 16. Dylan Carter 17. Chris Lemons 18. Adam Hairston 19. Justin Hale 20. Tezman Mosley

Be at the pitch at 11:30.

Social to follow at Ubee’s.

Note:  Harding will play Freed-Hardiman at our pitch after the third match.  Kick-off is at 4:00.