It was the first game of 15’s season and for the Texas rugby team, hopefully the first of 16 wins. 16 wins means a perfect season. Not an easy task, but a challenge the Longhorns proved they were up to in their first two match-ups against The University of North Texas and Stephen F. Austin University.
Over the years of match-ups UNT has evolved into a solid rivalry for Texas. Two years ago the undefeated Longhorns narrowly defeated the Mean Green on a field so muddy drowning in a ruck was a real concern. Although the Longhorns slid through the massive puddles and into a win, the Mean Green gave Texas a run for its money by making it the closest game of the Longhorns’ season. After all the mud had settled, Texas took the game by just one try.
UNT was given a chance at redemption, on a much less swampy field, one year later. Again, the game was extremely close. Texas was down going into the half but stepped up their play to take the game in the second 40 minutes.
Although the team walked away with the win, Senior Danny Camara only managed to limp away. Camara broke his foot during the contest but continued to play through the injury. It wasn’t until the next morning, when he noticed the massive swelling in his foot, that he discovered the severity of the injury. The break was inevitably season-ending.
Friday, when the Longhorns met the Mean Green for their most recent show-down, Camara got a chance to compete against the team with no major injuries. Although Camara and Junior Tanner Avery played well, it was Junior John Boudreaux who, to the coaches’ standards’, played the best and was determined to be “Man of the Match”.
“Compared to previous seasons I felt like I played a more focused game,” Boudreaux, who is also Vice- Captain of the team, said. “At a skill position like scrumhalf it’s always important to be mentally aware of opportunity on the field. I think my effort wasn’t anything above what I try to put out every match though, and I definitely got lucky in some bounces when I scored my try.”
Texas fought hard to open up the field to allow room for players to have a clear path to the try-zone. Felix Olazaran set the tone of the game by scoring the first try, before Matthew Young, Peter Hyams and Boudreaux followed suit each contributing tries of their own. Boudreaux also tacked on eight additional points by scoring two penalty kicks and one conversion off a try.
As the Longhorns started to pull away in route to their (28-12) win, UNT assistant coach grew increasingly disgruntled. He screamed his frustrations from the sidelines to players, coaches, referees and
anyone within ear shot. His outbursts proved futile as the Longhorns walked away with the win and the Mean Green boarded their vans with a loss and likely, for the coach, no voice.
On Saturday the Longhorns took a road trip out to Nacogdoches, Texas to take on the SFA Lumberjacks.
Minimal amount of time for recovery and four hours in cramped vans took a toll on the Longhorns. Texas came out slow in the first half with passive play. In preparation for the game the Longhorns passed SFA’s extremely young team off to be an easy win. But going into the half scoreless with a 19-point deficit was a good wake up call for Texas.
“We’re The University of Texas and this is not good enough,” Camara told the team during halftime. “We have to make a comeback.”
The Longhorns were inspired by Camara’s words and dug deep to come into the second 40 minutes with far more energized and aggressive play. But it was not an easy climb; Texas had dug itself in pretty deep.
Tries by Olazaran, Hyams and Avery and two conversions by Boudreaux tied the game at 19 all with five minutes to go in the second, but SFA made a nearly impossible drop goal from just past midfield for an extraordinary total of 40 meters to put the Lumberjacks up 22-19 with one minute left in the game.
Since SFA earned the points, Texas was forced to kick the ball straight back into the hands of the Lumberjacks. But SFA didn’t hold onto it for long. Tommy Gilmore powered through to steal the ball back and begin the long journey to SFA’s try-zone. It took the Longhorns a painstaking 13 phases to make it down the field before the ball fell stagnant around the 1 meter line.
The game seemed all but lost for Texas. The play had run into about four minutes of expired time and the offense couldn’t move the ball, but suddenly Freshmen Charlie Schwan leaped over two diving defenders to score a try and bring the game to a close (22-24) with Texas on top.
“Those two games were a great opportunity to really test ourselves to start the year,” Captain Hyams said. “We played two talented, physical schools back to back and were able to compete really well. It is always good to start with a win, but more importantly there’s a lot we can take away from those games to improve on. Some young guys played great games and we’re only going to get better as a team from here.”
Texas will look to continue their perfect record as it takes on Rice on Feb.15 on their home field.