Shining yellow buses flood into the lower lot, marking the beginning of the annual Jesuit Dallas Rugby Showdown. Excitement in the air, teams from all over Texas prepare for their matches.
On Saturday, March 5th, the Jesuit rugby team hosted the annual Jesuit Dallas Rugby Showdown, inviting the Jesuit New Orleans, Katy High School, and Christian Brothers teams for a day of rucking and trucking.
The varsity squad began the day with an intense match against Jesuit New Orleans, ending with a tie of 5-5. The game was hard-fought on both ends, and neither team was able to dominate the other, hence the low-scoring tie. Trevor Lastelick ’16, the team’s fly half, earned “Man of the Match” for his exceptional sight of the field and overall quickness with the ball. After the game, Lastelick commented, “It was a well-fought battle of Jesuit wits fittingly ending in a tie between tow well-coached, determined teams.”
Later that same day, the Rangers went on to face Christian Brothers, who lost to Katy 48-0 earlier that morning. Determined to not let their weariness dictate the game, Jesuit controlled the entire match, playing exceptional defense, not allowing a single point scored, and dominating the offensive side of the ball, blowing through the opposing line to score a total of 61 points. New team member Max Patterson ’16 played a fantastic game on the wing, scoring several tries by running perfect lines, slicing through their defense. He was also named the “Man of the Match” and emphasized that “we did a great job getting the ball outside, allowing for a lot of space on the left side for [him] to run.”
The next day Jesuit faced off against the talented Katy rugby team. Despite drawing first blood and keeping it tied at the half, the Rangers gave in to fatigue and allowed Katy to steal the victory, 28-7. Senior Richard Janicki, playing the position of hooker, was named the “Man of the Match” for Jesuit and commented, “It was a disappointing end to the tournament but both teams played hard.” Katy ended up placing 2nd overall in the tournament, behind Jesuit New Orleans. The Rangers placed third in the tournament, and team captain Christian Schoeberl ’16 told The Roundup, “We didn’t place as well as we had hoped in our tournament but we faced great competition and we learned a lot for the rest of the season.”
After spring break, the team came back to meet the Harlequin Colts at Breckenridge Park on March 19. A daunting sight, the field was plagued with large ant piles and patches of hard earth, painful to be tackled on. Unshaken, the Rangers earned the first try early in the game, scored by Dane Bender ’16. This opened a floodgate of tries for Jesuit, including Chase Kirkland’s ’16 first try in his rugby career. The final score was 39-15 in favor of Jesuit.
The following week found the Rangers at Plano High School, eager to earn another victory. Dane Bender once again was the first to score with a penalty kick, followed with tries by Gustavo Saucedo ’16, Emmett Flood ’16, and Jared Jowdy ’17 in the first half. Jesuit continued their dominance throughout the second half, disallowing a single point from Plano, ending the game 41-0.
The next week, the rugby team was excited to welcome St. Ignatius High School, hosting the team on their Texas rugby tour. Ranked sixth nationally, St. Ignatius defeated Westlake (the defending state champions) before arriving in Dallas. After a day of rest, Ignatius was back on their feet to play against Jesuit on Senior Night, April 1st. The team celebrated and honored their seniors before the game, many of which have been playing for all four years at Jesuit, with each player’s favorite memory of their time playing rugby and also a comical nickname for each player, notably “Mind Bender” for Dane Bender and “Speed Bump” for Chase Kirkland.
To begin the game, Jesuit knocked Ignatius on their heels and scored a penalty kick (Dane Bender) two minutes into the game. Unfortunately, the Rangers were overpowered for the rest of the game and were unable to score again, with a final score of 33-3. Despite the loss, the Rangers hosted a BBQ dinner with their billets in the cafeteria, exhibiting the raw sportsmanship that is unique to the game of rugby. Jesuit named Ignatius’ eight-man, Owen North ’16, and their fly-half, Andrew Baldado ’16, “Men of the Match.” Baldado emphasized that it was “a hard-fought game and the team had a great time in Dallas.” Tyler Sysco ’16 added to his comment, thanking Jesuit for “providing great hospitality and showing him a good time.”
The following Friday, the Rangers were released from class early to meet Lake Travis at their home field in Austin. A lot was riding on this game, for the Rangers had to win in order to be invited to this year’s state championship. Coming off the four-hour bus ride, the team stretched their legs and prepared for the game. However, in the end, Lake Travis was too powerful for Jesuit to contain, and Jesuit lost 48-9.
Finally, April 15th arrived, the last rugby game of the season, and the last Jesuit rugby game of the seniors’ careers. They faced a tough team, Allen, on Allen’s home field. Determined to win the final game of their career, the all-senior starting lineup prepared to receive the kick. It was a nail-biting game, tough fought until the very end of the 70 minutes. Bender drew first blood with a penalty kick nineteen minutes into the half, which was quickly topped by an Allen try. The game remained neck-and-neck until the end of the second half, when Christian Schoeberl scored a try, followed by a completed conversion, to gain the lead 23-17 after a stolen scrum by hooker Richard Janicki. Withholding their celebration until the final whistle, Jesuit fought until the end and eventually secured the ball and the game. The game was a “really important win,” exclaimed Schoeberl, “a perfect way to end my Jesuit career.”