Nothing gets Memphis fans excited more than a match-up with Old Miss. It doesn’t really matter what the sport is, we want Memphis to come out on top. The Tiger rugby team did not disappoint this past weekend as they rolled over the Ole Miss Rebels 43-7 under the lights last Saturday night.
Memphis suited up 32 players and Ole Miss came up with 20. Several Ole Miss players were new to rugby and this showed early in the game with the Rebels (Sorry, I’m stuck in the past.) offside around the ruck and not releasing the ball.
Their experienced players were a threat, as we had expected. We knew that we needed to bring our “A” game if we were to prevail.
Senior and club president, Jay MacDonnchadh, started off the scoring in the 10th minute with a nice try from the fullback spot as he filled into the line. Jay had a great day with some dazzling grabs and towering kicks. Nolan showed that he could place the ball with the boot in the 13th minute when he laid a kick in-goal for Thomas to recover. The speed of our wings continue to give teams problems. Scott Smith stepped in for Jay and dotted his try in the 34th minute. Scott fills in the line from the fullback spot with deceptive speed and power. Halftime score 19-0.
The Tigers tend to relax after they have a few points in the bank, but they just play better when they are relaxed… and the back line runs get faster and more creative. Two minutes into the second period, Nolan Wilson, standing 13, set up Jay with a beautiful pass following a break and Jay downed the ball. At 14 minutes Jay picked up another try following a nice flow of passes and forward work at the goal line. Joshua picked up two tries at the 19th and 29th minute. Josh, a world class water polo player did a swim move after catching the lineout ball and swam his way to the try line. Ole Miss finally scored in the 32nd minute to finish the game.
We traded honors with Ole Miss at the social. They chose to honor Joshua Campbell as our best forward and Jay MacDonnchadh as our best back. After watching the tape, I concur.
The lads were definitely try hungry. The rucks and mauls were powerful, low and organized. Tigers took all of our scrums and many of theirs. Technical errors are still an issue, but we are developing an attack with some flow and ball control.
Our team is deep in talent and desire. The lads have worked very hard over the past several months and the work is paying off. We go into our toughest match in the history of the Tiger program when we meet Arkansas State this next weekend. Arkansas State was the 4th best collegiate program in the US in 2011 and remains a D1A team. We go into the match with confidence in our abilities and our heads held high.