On a cold and overcast day UMW's men's rugby team travelled to Salisbury University after last weeks tournament win with the mindset of winning again. With UMW down a few players due to injuries last week, they travelled with a few newcomers to the roster who were looking to make an impact on the day. The team fought through cold, rain, and injuries to go 5-0 for the day and tack on another tournament win to their strong 7's season.
The first match of the day saw UMW facing off against Columbia University. Columbia started off strong with a try scored early in the match followed by a successful conversion putting the score at 7-0. Recently added to the roster, UMW's Jose Reyes, followed up with a try of his own and solid ball handling skills from 7's Captain Harry Masters, led to an incredible offload to Joseph Callery who put the ball down for another try. After a strong defensive push and UMW gaining possession of the ball, Aidan Gallagher used footwork and a dummy pass to score a try. With the score now at 19-7, Jose Reyes worked the field hard and offloaded to Lewis Grant for another UMW try putting them ahead at halftime, 24-7. The second half saw both teams very exhausted from such quick offensive and defensive work. Thankfully UMW was up to the task of finishing the match strong. Peter Smith ended the match with back to back tries to finish it off. UMW won the match with a score of 34-7.
Next in pool play put UMW up against a very solid Salisbury side as the weather began to turn to rain. UMW worked their gameplay flawlessly putting returning senior, Justin Ford, into space twice, both times with offloads to Aaron Bensink who scored back to back tries. Aidan Gallagher's expert kicking was able to convert the try successfully all the way from the corner putting UMW up, 12-0. With halftime approaching, Salisbury managed to get one try in. The start of second half saw UMW working their quick offloads into the hands of Benn Mellinger who fended off Salisbury for a try of his own. In one final offensive push UMW won a massive scrum against Salisbury that ended with Alec Charoenthep tearing down the line for a try. In the very last seconds of the match, Salisbury was able to put one last try down for themselves. UMW defeated Salisbury with a score of 24-10.
The final match of pool play put UMW up against North Carolina State. With the rain rolling in even harder now, UMW knew they were in for a tough match. Strong ball retention saw NC State moving down the field quickly and putting their first try in that went unconverted. The next few minutes of play saw NC State take two penalties that Captain Harry Masters capitalized quickly on. One he scored himself against the back pedaling NC State, and the next that found the ball in the hands of Aidan Gallagher who scored another try for the day. NC State successfully put another try on the board in the cold rain, but Harry Masters once again retaliated with a try of his own. Strong effort given to both sides, but UMW walked away with the win at 19-12.
With UMW winning their pool, they found themselves facing off against Old Dominion University just an hour after their last match. With the rain now coming down even harder and the temperature dropping even colder, Coach Tyler Stephens put it upon UMW to play even stronger defense and to wait for the opportunity to score and not force it. UMW played strong defense to keep ODU boxed in as much as possible. The first of the match came out of a scrum ending in the hands of Senior, Justin Ford, who scored the first try. This was followed by a try from Harry Masters off of a great lineout from UMW. The next two tries came from stand out performances; the first saw Joseph Callery running a 90 meter try in, the second found Senior Lewis Grant swat off three ODU defenders for a try of his own. With another great play, Peter Smith was able to put the final try in of the match defeating ODU 33-12.
UMW then moved onto the Championship match of the day against JMU. UMW had previously defeated JMU the weekend prior in the Championship match and put it upon themselves to do it again. The match was a brilliant battle of defense in freezing rain that started with JMU quickly putting the first points on the board that went unconverted. Lewis Grant returned that try with one of his own that Peter Smith successfully converted. UMW was now up, 7-5 and JMU wasted no time in scoring what was their last try of the match. The last few minutes of the match was a brutal battle of defense with UMW working themselves to the max. Harry Masters scored the last converted try of the match. In one final push, JMU found themselves with the ball at a scrum, but UMW proved dominant and stole it. With time expired, UMW kicked the ball out to seal another tournament win over JMU with a score of 14-10.