The Dallas Rugby Football Club (The Reds) clinched a spot in the 2012 Emirates Airline USA Rugby Men’s Division I Club Playoffs with a 43-10 win over the Denver Highlanders on Saturday.
The Reds put in a championship-worthy effort with an exciting mix of raw physicality and lethal passing. In Rugby, throwing the ball forward is illegal, but it can be carried forward or kicked. Kicking with the wind, Denver’s best chance was in the first half. The Reds overcame their disadvantageous field position repeatedly to play the majority of the half on Denver’s side of the field. Despite losing a man to the “sin bin” for a 10 minute penalty, Dallas RFC was able to capitalize on Denver’s consistently sloppy ball handling to lead at the half, 19-10.
In the second half broken plays and scrums slowed the paced of the game. With the trip to the playoffs still within Denver’s reach, the crowd’s boisterous intensity turned quiet. After two tries (the rugby equivalent of a touchdown, worth 5 points each) in quick succession by Paul Boyd and Austin Ryan, Dallas broke the back of Denver’s resistance. The kicking game was the only aspect of the match that never came together for Dallas with two penalty kicks (3 points each) and three conversion kicks missed (2 points each).
Dallas stayed focused until the end with a final score of 43 to 10 including a hat trick by Paul Boyd. “We’re Going Back to Cali,” by LL Cool J, blasted on the PA as the team and their festive fans celebrated the victory. The playoffs are held at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, California.
Dallas RFC faces the undefeated Belmont Coast Rugby Club on May 12, at 3:15 Pacific. Team President, Jeff Kolberg, points out that in the previous years they have stayed competitive in the championship with close losses to the championship team and the second place team. He promises “We’re gonna go out there and show them that Texas can play rugby.”
The Austin Blacks Rugby Team have also advanced to the playoffs and will be facing the Old Mission Beach Athletic Club on May 12, at 11:45AM Pacific.