The Tigers Rugby Football Club began the 2014 with a classic match up against friends and rivals Regis Jesuit High School. These two teams have paired up 10 previous years, with Regis holding a 9-1 record over the Tigers going into the match.
Regis Jesuit, coached by Zach Fenoglio (a USA Eagle prop and 2007 Regis HS graduate) jumped out to a 15-0 lead on long break away tries. But before the end of the first half, the Tigers coaches suggest a couple defensive changes, which stymied the Regis attack. The other tactic the Tigers Rugby engaged was a dominant forward attack. Nathan Hepp put the Tigers on the board in the waning moments of the first period. Caleb Thomas converted from the right sideline to make the count Regis 15, Tigers 7 at the half.
Despite the slow start, Tigers Rugby established a methoical effort against the Division I Red Raiders by aggressively counter rucking, and extending phase play by drawing repeated Regis penalties. Skillfully mixing rucks, mauls and back line crashes, the Tigers trudged through two long drives. The first culminated by captain Jamison Escobar’s try. At 15-12 (after the missed conversion by Thomas), perhaps the most critical opportunities were created in the final minute.
After positioning themselves inside the Raiders’ 22 it seemed that the grinding slow-ball strategy was eating time. But for the efforts of the front row (loose head Jack Keys, hooker Xavier Charboneau and tight head prop, Tyler McElhenney) the Tigers almost came up empty. Not only did the front row win the hook against the head (Regis put in), but they had to do so TWICE after another knock (on) at the doorstep. Zach Myers gathered in the 8-man take and carried three Red Raiders 7 meters, and touched it down on the try line. Caleb Thomas converted the second of three attempts to close the scoring – Tigers Rugby Football Club 19, Regis Jesuit 15.