Texas A&M hosted the annual Gareth Jones Challenge Cup this weekend in College Station, Texas, where 32 teams competed in six divisions across on six fields at Veterans Park. The tourney is held each year in memory of former A&M player Gareth Jones and to support the scholarship given in his name.
This year’s scholarship recipient is Ben Teaney. Ben is a Political Science major with a minor in French and Business. He currently carries a 3.4 GPA. He's been a member of the Texas A&M rugby club for two seasons and a regular contributor to the CPD team this year. “I am honored to receive this scholarship," said Teaney. "I really enjoyed meeting Gareth’s parents, and will do my best to uphold such a privilege as being awarded the Gareth Jones Scholarship.”
The tournament has a non-traditional format that has all teams competing for “Most Honored Club” instead of the traditional 1st, 2nd, 3rd place finishes. The “Most Honored Club” is chosen by a panel of A&M club members and is based around a club’s on-field play as well as their sportsmanship.
This year’s winner of “Most Honored Club” was the Katy Barbarians. They competed in five of the seven divisions, split their U9 and U11 teams in half to assist other teams, and went 8-1 in the U13, U17 and U19 brackets. Tournament Co-Director Johnny Smith said, “Katy was awesome this weekend...Both on and off the field, they represent what the Gareth Jones Tourney is all about.”
There were MVP awards given out in each age division and medals for all participants in the U9 and U11 age groups. Tournament Co-Director Tim Telaneus was delighted to see such growth in the younger age brackets; “There were a lot of little kids playing rugby. It bodes well for the future of Texas rugby.”
The MVP’s were as follows:
U13 – Woodlands – Grayson Danner
U15 – St. Thomas – Conor Alo
U17 – Stony Point – Kyle Olzse
U19 – Katy – John Hunchild
The weekend also served other rugby entities around Texas as well. The Rugby Texas High Performance coaches were in attendance to scout players along with Midwestern State University, Texas Tech and Sam Houston all in attendance to recruit players.
The highlight of the weekend was surely the second annual Challenger Event. The Challenger Event is designed to provide children with mental and physical challenges the opportunity to play a team sport. It also allows the A&M club members with an opportunity to be a part of something very special.
“Seeing these supposed big, bad rugby players being wrapped around the finger of a small child is remarkable. More than anything we do during Gareth Jones weekend, I know Gareth would be most proud of the Challenger event. Gareth was a kind, gentle soul that always thought of others,” said Coach Smith.
The event is also supported by the Texas A&M Corps of Cadets via the performance of the Corps Fish Drill Team and an appearance by Reveille, the A&M mascot. “The kids get a real kick out of the FDT performance and getting to meet Reveille. The Corps is very gracious with their time and outstanding with the children,” said Challenger Coordinator Ryan Marshall.
Smith was also impressed with all the support staff. “This took a real team effort between our club, The Department of Recreational Sports at Texas A&M, the grounds crew at Penberthy, the Texas Rugby Referee Association and The City of College Station. The folks at the City of College Station and the Parks and Recreational department were awesome. They accommodated us in every way.
"I can’t say enough good things about our players as well. They showed on time, worked hard and did a professional job. I am very proud of every person in this club. Of course, none of this happens without the team; everyone showed with a great attitude and it resulted in a pretty smooth day for everyone.”