Category Archives: Game Reports

Game Reports

Tigers Win at BRIT 2018

The Memphis Tigers Rugby team traveled to Mobile, Alabama last weekend to participate in the Battleship Rugby Invitational Tournament (BRIT).  BRIT is a destination for many touring international teams due to the solid competition and the enjoyment of the venue.  The matches are played at the park at the foot of the Battleship Alabama.

Tiger Leadership with first place

The Tigers took on the Ragin’ Cajuns in their first match besting the Cajuns 29-5.  Tries were scored by Gavin, Musa, Grant, Derek and Ryan.  Grant, added two conversions and a penalty kick to round out the scoring.  The lads had the upper hand throughout the match and were clearly the fitter team. Coach Swatzyna’s strategy of three punches to the gut then swinging the ball wide sprung the speedy Tiger wingers for much of the territory gain.

In the second match on Saturday, the Tigers took on Lafayette, LA.  It took a while for the Tigers to warm up, but just before the end of the second half, the Tigers got loose and at halftime the Tigers were on top, 12-7.  After the break, the Tigers fitness begin to show and they dominated most of the play and stood in Lafayette’s half much of the time.  The Tigers went up 25-7.  Lafayette scored a late breakaway try at the end of the match as the Tiger replacements got some time in the match.

Grant, Chase, Will and Musa scored tries and Grant notched 5 more points with this boot.  The final score was 25-14.

On Sunday, the Tigers faced Battleship Rugby Team. The home team was more of a challenge for the Tigers, and since this was a championship match for the bracket, the competition was fierce.  Admittedly, the Tigers were sore from the previous day’s work, but once they loosened up, the ball began to move more freely.  Ethan Scott drew first blood with a breakaway run.  Grant added the conversion and the Tigers were off to the races. Grant slotted the next try and the conversion to take a solid lead before halftime, 14-0.

In the second half, Coach Swat strategically moved his players to get everyone playing time and prime positions and the Tigers used fresh legs to continue to dominance.  Battleship finally got on the board with a try and conversion.  Grant finished the day with a long penalty shot to end the match at 17-7.

The Tigers took first place honors in their division proving the team’s capacity to move the ball and control the game.

BRIT winners

Tigers Gain Experience at ASU

Tigers Gain Experience at ASU

The University of Memphis Rugby Team traveled to Arkansas State this past Saturday morning to play a friendly match against Arkansas State University in Jonesboro. A-state plays in a division above the Tigers and this friendly was scheduled to provide us a learning opportunity as we prepare for conference play.

The opening kick went off at 1:00 and both teams played their hardest for 80 minutes. A-state’s ability to strip the ball made it difficult for the Tigers to mount a sustained offense. Plus, their powerful offense overwhelmed the Tiger defense on the outside.

The Tigers D-line was tough but had difficulty shifting to cover the 70 meter wide pitch.  It was a hard fought battle between the two teams, even though the Red Wolves were victorious at the end of the game.

After the game, A-State hosted a friendly social of burgers and dogs where we had a chance to talk rugby with our opponents. We continued to learn even after the final whistle.

Even though we lost the match we learned a tremendous amount. Everyone played hard throughout the match improving our skills along the way.

We would like to acknowledge Coach Cole and Coach Swat for teaching us real rugby and how to manage ourselves on and off the field, whether it’s practice or a tough game. We would also like to acknowledge our two water girls who made sure we stayed hydrated throughout the game.

Captain Sweeney awards Des and Matt

Most of all we would like to acknowledge Arkansas State University for allowing us to run a practice game against them. After that game I can say the Tigers have improved in every way. I am again excited and it’s my pleasure to say Let’s Go Tigers.

Editor’s note: Dez Harris and Matt Jordan were honored as rookies of the match.  They have demonstrated excellent growth and development in their game over the past two weeks and their play at A-State was impressive.

Tigers Learn at SIRC 7s

Tigers Learn at SIRC 7s

The University of Memphis Rugby Team traveled to Kennesaw State last Friday night for a weekend of 7s rugby. The event was the South Independent Rugby Conference (SIRC) Round 1, 7s tournament.

The team traveled Friday afternoon arriving in Kennesaw around 9:30 that night and crashed into the Holiday Inn and Suites to prepare for the games scheduled for the next day. Saturday morning the Tigers woke up, ate a healthy breakfast and headed to Kennesaw Stadium.

TJ Hardaway

Nine collegiate rugby teams of the SIRC met to see who was best. (Two teams could not attend due to remaining damage from Hurricane Irma.) Matches were held over two days.  The competition was fabulous, exciting and very interesting to watch. The Tigers had a total of 6 games that weekend including matches against MTSU, Kennesaw State, Florida Atlantic University, Georgia Southern, Georgia Tech, and Florida State.

The Tigers finished the tournament 3 for 6, moving up in conference standings from 7th to 6th place. During the awards ceremony U of M fullback TJ Hardaway was named to the all-tournament team highlighting the top 12 players of the tournament.  TJ demonstrated his strength, athleticism, and support for the team throughout the tournament.

Captain Sweeney

Another Tiger that deserves acknowledgement is our captain, Conlan Sweeney. He provided Memphis the guidance we needed to make it through the tournament. His leadership ensured everything went well on and off the field.

We left our sweat and tears on the field and headed home knowing that we were a better team for the experience.  We are getting stronger with each match we play. Let’s Go Tigers!!!!

Tigers 7s Team

Bullies Best Tigers in Friendly!

Bullies Best Tigers in Friendly!

Memphis 8/26/2017— The Memphis Tigers hosted the Mississippi State Bulldogs at Memorial Field as the end of their development camp Saturday August 26.  The Bulldogs were invited to come to town so the Tigers could work on game situations following a full day of skills training.

The match featured four 20-minute periods so each team could coach the players during breaks.  As hoped, the Tigers improved each period of play.

And there were some very bright spots. Conlan Sweeney debuted as captain and will be a tremendous leader this year. He was constantly watching over his mates ensuring their safety and engagement.  He was an encouraging force on the field throughout the day.

The first try of the year was scored by Ramon Cantu standing at hooker.  He took the ball from a lineout on a 35 yard run to mow down the opposition fullback with a tough hit,  then had the presence of mind to dot the ball for the try.

Ethan Scott followed in his brother’s footsteps and showed that he had a golden toe. He converted Cantu’s try from the sidelines with a beautiful soaring kick.  Ethan stood outside center for the day and probably made more tackles than any other player.  He was consistently tough on defense.  Unfortunately, the Tigers were on defense too much… one item we will be working on this week.

Ethan, Conlan, and Ramon

Conlan Sweeney was named Man of the Match for his leadership on the field.  Ramon Cantu was honored as the Best Forward Rookie and Ethan Scott was honored as the Best Back Rookie.  The rookie awards were tough since we had excellent play by our rookie mates.

The end of the day was capped with a social at Audubon Park where burgers and dogs were consumed in massive quantities.  The Tigers mingled well with the Bullies and friendships were made. That is what rugby is all about.

Wilsons and Roedels

A great bonus for the weekend was seeing a second generation pair stand with their fathers.  James Wilson played fly half and Brittin Roedel played scrum half this weekend. Approximately 20 years ago their fathers were playing together for the Tigers.  The legacy image was profound and helps us understand why we appreciate Tiger Rugby so much.

More pictures are available from Tom Sweeney here and from Stacy Scott here.  We appreciate so very much our parents who capture these moments and share their incredible talents.

Thanks to all families, fans and supporters who came out to support the Tigers. Thanks to all who freely donate money to support the club. For those who wish to help the team, please visit the Donate page.  More opportunities for support are available below.

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Tigers Tackle KSU

Tigers on the loose!

Tigers on the loose!

Kennesaw State University traveled to Memphis on March 8th undefeated this year in conference play.  They had rallied to beat the Tigers at their house and had taken it to powerful MTSU as well.  KSU was hoping for an easy win against the tigers and brought their best players to ensure the victory.  However, the Tigers played the best game of their season to deny KSU the undefeated title.  The Tiger win places  KSU’s hopes of a division title in jeapordy.

The match was played at Halle Stadium under partly cloudy skies and in front of 75 vocal fans.  Freddy “The Face” Hodges (Formerly Freddy “The Lips”) was in the press box announcing the game and playing tunes.  It was great hearing the Tiger Fight song at the beginning of the game and at halftime.  Freddy “The Face” did a great job keeping the fans in the match.  Having an announcer added to the excitement of the day.

Chris Lemons and Company

Chris Lemons and Company

KSU started the scoring in the first two minutes with a nice move following their kickoff.  Then things settled down.  Thomas Strickland got the next points off of ruck ball at the 23rd minute and Donovan Thomas got a try by powering over the defense in the 24th minute.  John Elmore converted the try and the Tigers Lead 12-7.

KSU was not deterred.  They used their power forwards to drive the ball deep into Tiger territory and scored under the posts on the 26th minute.  KSU back on top  14-12.

In the 30th minute, Ronnie Roberson, fresh back from his shoulder injury at Georgia Southern scored his first points as a Tiger.  He crashed hard against the defensive line following a quick ruck and great handling by the backs.  John converted and the Tigers go into the break ahead, 19-14.

The Tiger forwards played out of their minds.  The scrums were amazing with Josiah Shipley stealing KSU ball and the Tiger forwards driving the heavier pack.  Lemons and company snagged all our lineouts and stole or disrupted all their ball.

The second half started out with the fans jumping out of their seats again when Tezman Mosley took the ball on the wing, popped over the defense, gathered the ball on the hop and sprinted to the try line.  With presence of mind to center the ball, John was able to convert in the tough wind.  Tigers up

TIger Forward Power

TIger Forward Power


At the 26th minute, Elmore calls “New Zealand” at the middle of the pitch.  With our backs split wide, the confused KSU defense adjusts.  Thomas knows just what to do.  He sees a crack between the center and the fullback and goes solo to the try line.

Ronnie comes to the aid of Adam Hairston, his captain, when he sees him being accosted out view of the referee.  His reward is ten minutes in the sin bin.  Ronnie is a tough competitor with warriors heart.  His actions typify the way the team feels about each other.  Over this season they have become a close nit group, working together to achieve goals and protecting each other along the way.

While we are down one man KSU picks up two tries, but Ronnie is back for the last eight minutes and we spend the remaining part of the match attacking their goal.  Time runs out before we can score again, but the match is ours.  The fans go nuts.  The scoreboard announces “Home 31, Visitor 26”.

John Elmore  Man of the Match

John Elmore
Man of the Match

Referee: Alastair Twaddle

Field: Halle Stadium

Announcer:  Freddy “The Face” Hodges

Side:  1. Justice Houston, 2. Josiah Shipley, 3. Matt Hill, 4. Ronnie Roberson,  5. Chris Lemons, 6. August Myers 7. Adam Hairston (Captain), 8. Jonathan Bauer, 9. Thomas Strickland 10. John Elmore, 11. Tezman Mosley 12. Donovan Thomas 13. Cameron Walton 14. Anthony Smith, 15. Scott Smith, 16. Nicholas Harrison, 17. Hector Marquez, 18. Willie Lacey, 19. Bert Milam 20. Kyle Baker

Injured Reserve:  Tj Hardaway, Sam Kordab

Man of the Match:  John Elmore, for leading the backs, organizing the defense and his conversions in a stiff wind.

Best Forward:  All of the forwards:  Justice Houston, Josiah Shipley, Matt Hill, Ronnie Roberson, Chris Lemons, August Myers, Adam Hairston, and Nick Harrison for their outstanding play as a group that engineered the win over KSU.

Thanks to Connie Griffin for taping the match.  Video is available here:

Thanks to Paige Milam for taking excellent photos of the match.  Here photos are available here:


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Tigers Make Georgia Tech a Ramblin’ Wreck

February 1, 2014 – Atlanta:  The Memphis Tigers took on Georgia Tech in its second conference match of the season.  With only 18 on the trip, the Tigers were short on subs, and the touring squad fully understood that each person must play to their potential to win this match.

Georgia Tech has a beautiful new multi-purpose facility with a turf field for the match.  Unfortunately, with multipurpose comes multiple lines. Rugby lines were burnt orange which didn’t stand out well.  There were no less than 5 sets of colored lines on the pitch, and the goalposts were propped up at the end of the try line since Tech cannot drill holes in the turf to erect the posts.  However, the Tigers adapted to the orientation and seemed to do well on the surface. The extra footing of the turf certainly helped the Tiger speedsters and we took that advantage to heart.

Cameron Walton Man of the Match

Cameron Walton
Man of the Match

We missed a coverage assignment and Georgia Tech get the first points, but that seemed to just fire up the Tigers.   We made a few adjustments and went after them again.  Cameron Walton scored our first points with a nice finishing run from the wing.  Shortly thereafter, TJ Hardaway shook off several tacklers on sixth phase ball from the inside center position to dive in for his score.

Our backline was having their way with Tech mainly because of solid forward play.  The pack were exceptional in all set pieces, winning our lineouts and scrums, and many of theirs. We freely gained yards but had difficulty finishing plays.  Red zone offense seemed confused for some reason.

We had a bit of a problem getting the ball to the backline from the scrum since their very experienced scrum half was standing offsides, but number 8 Jonathan Bauer corrected the problem by opting to feed scrum half Tezman Mosley.  The ball began to flow well again. Cameron took another try before the end of the half, putting the tigers up 15-5.

The second half was even more punishing than the first.  The hits were unbelievable.  The turf gave good footing and the collisions from both sides were fierce.  Our lads blew up anyone with the ball and the same power was demonstrated at the rucks.

Unfortunately, we made a mistake at the goal line and a clearing kick fell short of the touch line.  The Tech winger walked into the try zone untouched (Damn that field is wide!) bringing the score to 15 – 10.

Chris Lemons Best Forward

Chris Lemons
Best Forward

With 20 minutes left in the match, the fierce competition is wearing on everyone.  At one stoppage of play, I see 8 Tech players lying on the ground not moving.  Unfortunately, Bert Milam and August Myers are bleeding profusely from the nose and mouth and must come off the pitch.  We also lose Tezman at 9 due to an ankle injury. In go, Nicholas Harrison and Sam Kordab… both short on experience, but these solid athletes clearly see what needs to be done. Hector Marquez, not quite fully recovered from his leg injury is asked to step up and he takes his duty at flanker. Hector’s “all in” and ready to show that he can play at this level.

Though he has a sore knee, TJ goes to wing, Josiah goes to 9, and Adam Hairston stands outside center.  Can this patched up line hold off Tech… attacking with all they have?

Donovan Thomas had been hungry all day and decided it was his turn.  Taking forth phase ball from the 40 meter, he blasted through three tacklers and kicked another off his heels while in the try zone to center the ball. (We had a hard time kicking with the posts 20 meters off the try line so he decided to give kicker John Elmore the best shot possible.) Elmore was able to convert and the Tiger coaches breathe easier at 22- 10.

Tech was not done.  With the clock winding down, they are screaming to fire each other up.  They find a crease down the right side and score with 5 minutes left in the match.  22-17.

While the conversion is attempted, Adam calls his side together for one last goal line chat.  The “We will not be denied our victory, “declares Adam.  All agree and they slowly walk to the kick.  The Tigers smother the receiver at the Tech 40 and steal the ball.  This is the last Tech will see of the ball.

The Tigers move back and forth across the pitch, phase after phase inching the ball forward with outstanding runs and punishing rucks.  With seconds left TJ, John, and Donovan attack the goal line.  Finally, Bauer picks up at the base of TJ’s ruck and powers through three players to fall in goal.

The Try is awarded. John gets one last shot at this quirky goal and the referee calls the match.  Time is done. Tigers win 27-17.  Pandemonium breaks out in the Tiger huddle. This win has been a long time coming.  The Tigers paid with this win through the past year’s work, blood, sweat and pain. They are thrilled with what they’ve accomplished.

The coaches are mostly and relieved. I almost don’t believe the win until I see the conference paperwork signed by the referee and the captains. Whew! Finally.

The social was fabulous and a time to bask in the pleasure of the win and reflect.  Over pizza, the lads chatted with the Tech players, probing how to best KSU.  We thanked Tech for their hospitality and hospitality.  Three cheers for Tech and we were back the vans for a six hour sweet dreaming ride home.


Side:  1. Justice Houston, 2. Josiah Shipley (Pack Leader), 3. Matt Hill, 4. Ronnie Roberson, 5. Chris Lemons, 6. August Myers, 7. Adam Hairston (Captain), 8. Jonathan Bauer, 9. Tezman Mosley, 10. John Elmore (Backs leader), 11. Bert Milam, 12. TJ Hardaway 13. Donovan Thomas, 14. Cameron Walton, 15. Antony Smith, 16. Hector Marquez, 17. Nicholas Harrison 18. Sam Kordab

Referee: Vince Lucey (SERRS)

Final Score: 27 – 17

Social: Rocky Mountain Pizza

Man of the Match:  Cameron Walton

Best Forward:  Chris Lemons


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Tigers Fall in Opener

January 25, 2014 – Halle Stadium, Memphis TN– The Memphis Tigers took on the Georgia Southern Eagles today as the South Independent Rugby Conference (SIRC) spring conference began.  Fifty brave souls turned out to watch the match on a cold and blustery day.   Despite the loss, the boisterous group cheered the Tigers and encouraged them every step of the way.

Thomas Strickland Man of the Match

Thomas Strickland
Man of the Match

The Tigers outplayed the Eagles in the first 20 minutes driving deep into Eagles territory several times only to watch clearing kicks provid relief.  The Tigers clearly needed to find a way to exploit their trips to the red zone.

As the first half wound on, the Eagles got their feet under them and began to compete.  They had two players that were hard to bring down, but generally the Tigers played them well.  Unfortunately, in a temporary lapse in defense at the try line, the Eagles drew first blood.  The Eagle 10 made a sweet offload behind his back to a prop and caught us off guard.

The Tigers generated some offense in the second half and were able to put together two tries.  Donovan Thomas and Thomas Strickland both scored tough tries, and John Elmore standing 10 for the day converted each nicely.  Unfortunately, Freddy Hodges took a hard shot to the cheek and left the pitch for the day with a fractured maxilla.

Jonathan Bauer Best Forward

Jonathan Bauer
Best Forward

The Tigers had difficulty staying onsides at the rucks giving up 12 points in penalties. The Eagles picked up a sloppy try when the Tigers failed to clear from their try zone.

Mental errors were our demise today.  We beat ourselves.  We will spend extra time this week working on our game plan, correcting our off sides problems.  We will bring in a ringer coach, Tony Lubiani, to work with our flyhalf/scrumhalf connection.  We are committed to fixing these problems.  We have two practices before we head to Georgia Tech.

Many thanks to the fans who came out in support.  (We plan to have the PA system working by out next match.) It is gratifying to have so much support. We really do appreciate ya’ll coming out.


  • Final score 23 – 14
  • Referee: Eric Fleming
  • Man of the Match: Thomas Strickland
  • Best Forward: Jonathan Bauer

The Tigers next home match will be March 1st against SIRC powerhouse, MTSU.  Hope to see you there.


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Tigers Struggle at Oak Leaf

Oak Leaf Tournament

Oak Leaf Tournament

The struggle started early.  We had an agreement with Vandy for a kick-off time after noon so that we could drive up Saturday AM.  So, they scheduled us at 11:00.  Oops! That means that we will need to leave Memphis at 7:00am sharp and hammer down to get to the field on time.

Though most players were gathered at Central by the 6:30 meet time, we were 5 short.  By 7:00 we were three short, and we finally left at 7:15 leaving some players in their beds.  (Frustrating)

We got to the pitch at 10:30 and finally had the lads warming up at 10:45.  With 15 minutes to wake up our bodies and our minds, I was very worried.  And I had cause to be worried.  We played Alabama B, a respectable team… but a team that we could beat, and we let them win the game.  We gave the ball back on a multitude of turnovers… dropped balls, running into touch.  We were not ready to play.  Lost 15 to 7.

An hour later we played probably the best team at the tournament.  Southern Indiana University (Evansville) were fabulous and we played fabulous with them.  We played the best rugby that I have ever seen us play.  We came up short, but we didn’t embarrass ourselves like we did in the first match.  SIU on top 20 to 7.

Then we had lunch, slept and killed off 4 hours waiting for our next match.  We were to face MTSU.  We don’t mind playing MTSU; we just had rather played a team that was not in our conference.  Maybe Tennessee or Kentucky?  But to no avail.

The MTSU match was classic Memphis – MTSU.  Hard fought, crashing, passionate and fun to watch. (A yellow card and two reds spoiled the fun.  Passions too high?) Though we were uphill in the first half, the Tigers held their own and the score was close.  Then, the 40+ MTSU substitutes were rotated into the match.  After 5 halves of play the Tigers could not stop the players with the fresh legs.  Our scrums started to falter and our backs could not contain.  Not sure what the final score was, but it was lopsided.

However, the weekend was not without positives.  The first try against Alabama was provided by August Myers who took the ball from Thomas Strickland and powered through several players to score the try.  He has been dead lifting 425 lbs lately and he showed his superior leg drive in that play.  Great job August.  When we get close we need to get him the ball.

Chris Lemons demonstrated toughness in contact to make two sweet offloads to Thomas in the SIU and MTSU games.  Thomas showed his illusiveness and dashed for tries in each match. Defensive players were grabbing air.  Thomas is the fastest player on the pitch and his defense has improved significantly over the past year.  We are glad to have him standing at 11.

Phil Elliott managed the kicks well.  Kickoffs and conversions were well handled and his 10 play was impressive.  Jonathan Brewi was rather solid in getting out some tough ball.  He and Phil used the quick tap effectively.

We worked on the defensive back line and learned a few things that we will be using going forward.  Cameron Walton was solid at 13 and Freshman Donovan impressed us.  Tezzio was ready but didn’t get enough ball.  We need to get the ball out faster.

The forwards have learned how to ruck low to the ground.  Ian and company can protect the ball when they want to.  Forwards also demonstrated good discipline at the defensive ruck and maintained onsides through the intensity.  We won some good lineout ball and set pieces have started to gel.  Our new players Ronnie and DJ are figuring out second row and Chris and Jonathan are solid at 8.

Captain for the day was Adam Hairston.  He managed his team well and marshaled his troupes effectively.  He properly took care of the referee and kept his team focused on the prize.

With that behind us, we go against Harding this weekend.  They are no easy team.  We had better bring our A game.  We are just glad to be home playing at our pitch.  Kick-off at 2:00.  Come on out and watch the Tigers.