The Jesuit Rugby team traveled on an enjoyable trip to New Orleans recently to compete in a friendly tournament against NOLA Jesuit and De La Salle from Philadelphia. Coach Upton ’02 assisted in the organizing of the games as he lived in NOLA for several years after college and is friends with the coaches of both teams. On Thursday after school, the team drove to the airport to catch a flight to New Orleans. When they landed, Jesuit Dallas was welcomed by their host families and enjoyed their first night in Louisiana.
The next day the team met at the school with their NOLA Jesuit hosts before touring the famous WWII museum. After the museum, the players headed to the NOLA Jesuit’s off-site practice field to practice with NOLA Gold, the local rugby professional team. Here, the team ran drills with all of the teams involved in the tournament taking place the next day. Jesuit Dallas, NOLA Jesuit, De La Sal from Philadelphia and NOLA Gold, a professional team in a new American Rugby League, all took part in the practice.
Senior Linus Cooper summed up Jesuit Dallas’s adventure, “It was a tremendous experience to be able to practice with and learn from professional athletes. Their insights helped me to improve my game and better appreciate professional rugby in America.”
Senior Ethan Kirkland agreed. “NOLA Gold players were very experienced and their knowledge of the game was very helpful… and it assisted us in improving our skills.” The whole team agreed that growth of rugby in America is positive.
The next morning the players gathered at the fields early and prepared for the games ahead of them. The Jesuit Dallas varsity players went straight to the field to warm up while the JV rested in the unseasonably hot weather. Varsity’s match kicked off, hyping up everyone about the competitive matches.
The game started off slowly with good defense from both teams as Jesuit Dallas came up on the ball fast while NOLA Jesuit made good tackles. After some sound rucking, Noah Villasana (‘19) scored an amazing try. Unfortunately, the conversion after missed but five points went up on the board.
At halftime, the score was 5-0 and the players prepared for another hard fought 30 minutes. Coach Upton (‘02) substituted in the backline and forward pack to replace with fresh energy, tired players like star Niko Trianto (‘19) and gave a few impact subs like Kabir Bansi (‘18) and Gerard Gonzalez (‘18) playing time.
The challenging and demanding game continued as both teams wanted to destroy each other.
With 15 minutes left in the game, Jesuit back Jacob Jowdy (‘19) scored another try and then Jacob scored the points after. Jesuit anticipated serving NOLA Jesuit a drubbing but NOLA scored towards the end of the game to tie it up. The Rangers attempted multiple times to pull ahead, staying in the ten yard line, but NOLA’s goal line defense held against Dallas’s attacks.
NOLA Jesuit and Jesuit Dallas both scored 12 points and due to time limitation, it was declared a tie. As ties are usually just as frustrating as losses, Liam Vlasimsky (‘18) said that “It really do be like that sometimes.” The fatigued varsity players stayed ready for the oncoming doubleheader match.
The Jesuit Dallas JV team played NOLA JV after the Varsity game. NOLA Jesuit included eighth graders on their team so they were smaller than the Jesuit Dallas team but a few Varsity starters from De La Salle played down to create a fair game.
To start the game off, Matthew Mancillas ’19 (JV C) scored very quickly off of a pick and go and got the JV squad excited for the rest of the game.
Less than five minutes after that try, Brad Silver ‘21 took a banger and pushed through multiple defenders to put the ball down in the try zone. Brad scored 2 more tries in a similar fashion. After Jesuit Dallas had 4 tries on the scoreboard, Zach Alcantar ’20 took a banger close to the try zone and scores a try.
During the beginning of the second half, Connor Uek ’19 ran to tackle one of the huge De La Salle players and the player kneed Uek in the head, which caused him to pass out. Luckily for the team, Payton Brown ’20 jumped up to replace the dizzy Connor.
Uek stated later that he “really wanted to get the big tackle but then remembers waking up on the field” Although Jesuit Dallas was scoring many tries, NOLA matched them. Thanks to the De La Salle players, NOLA was able to score 2 tries. Despite their best efforts, Jesuit Dallas’ JV team won this scrimmage.
After JV finished their game, the three teams began a round robin of 30 minute games. De La Salle and NOLA Jesuit played first and then De La Salle plays Jesuit Dallas Varsity. The tired Jesuit Dallas Varsity gave all their effort and played a very competitive game in the hot weather. Competing as hard as the starters, the subs were given extra playing time this game.
For the last game of the day, JV Jesuit Dallas faced off against De La Salle’s varsity team in a half game. The JV players fought as hard as they could against a varsity level team and they fiercely battled to put the ball in the try zone. The captain of the JV team, Matthew Mancillas ’19, with the help of his team valiantly pushed through and scored a try. After the try everyone felt accomplished even though De La Salle then went on to score 3 unanswered tries. All of the players were exhausted but they fought throughout the game.
After all of the competition finished, the teams shared a meal, laughing with their new friends. Thoroughly enjoying the trip, the sunburnt and tired players were ready to return home. As Hector Juarez ’19 said, “The trip was an amazing opportunity to bond with my teammates and experience the culture of Louisiana. I liked the trip but I am glad to be going home.”