The Maryland Exiles U19s defeated Anne Arundel County Youth Rugby 47-5 Sunday at the home pitch of Severn River Rugby in Severna Park, Md.
The action was fast and hard-hitting when it got going, but referee Mike O’Brien was forced to stop the game frequently for scrus and little educational briefings as this is still early days in the region.
It was AACo’s first outing this spring and with only a few players having rugby experience, they were at a disadvantage from the outset against a more seasoned Exiles squad.
“I have been playing since the 7th grade,” said senior prop Sean Custead. “I will miss being with this team next year, but I will be playing somewhere.”
Due to the unseasoned nature of most of the young players, the match was filled with turnovers and penalties, most in contact or the breakdown.
The Exiles managed to score first using their forwards with hooker Julio Gonzales grounding the ball. Students from the Lycee’ de Rochambeau, a French School in Bethesda, Md., contribute to half of the Maryland Exiles high school age team. They reflect the nature of the French style of playing and the fact that they usually practice in numbers more suited to 7s. The French students were skillful with their passing and quickly moved the ball out to the wing, where there was often an overload.
They also were quick to use the boot to their advantage, a skill the Anne Arundel team has yet to master. After being held up at the tryline, the Exiles No. 8 Nicholas Rogi took the ball from the back of a 5-meter scrum for the try. Lock Stuart Dean got his turn at scoring next after Exiles scrumhalf Brandon Drummond secured the ball from a ruck, faked inside, reversed field, and then had his forwards work their way down to the tryline.
The kick after by Francisco Castro bounced off the left upright, leaving the score at 15-0.
The Anne Arundel County team fought back with some hard tackles and they won a scrum, but scrumhalf Liam McNally was tackled before he could unload the ball. After the ball changed hands several times before the Exiles stole a scrum put-in at midfield and scrumhalf Brandon Drummond, son of longtime PRU referee Joe Drummond, took the ball weak and evaded several tacklers to touch down in the corner. Exiles replacement inside center Rafael Klause scored next on the only converted try of the day to make it 27-0
Shortly before the end of the first half Exiles sub scrumhalf Ryan Dean pounced on a loose ball to make the lead 32-0 at halftime.
Come the 2nd half, the Exiles were substituting freely, giving more game time experience to their freshmen and sophomores. The Anne Arundel County Club had far fewer replacements to spare and their scrumhalf played most of the game with a shoulder injury sustained early in the match. These independent high school age clubs have a hard time recruiting athletes in the area not only because of unfamiliarity with the sport and parental misconceptions of the danger of injury but also because of the popularity of Lacrosse which shares the Spring season. Single high school teams in the Metro Area Varsity Rugby Conference and the Maryland Independent Athletic Association often draw the most serious players to private schools who field Rugby teams. Because of this, most of the independent clubs in the Maryland North struggle to put 15 players on the field each week. With the demise of the Potomac Rugby Union and the movement toward State Based Rugby Organizations not yet complete, the coaches of these multi-school clubs in the Mid-Atlantic region have to organize their own schedules and create their own league. Currently the Maryland North is comprised of independent club supported teams from Howard County, Anne Arundel County, North Bay, West Carroll, Frederick and The Maryland Exiles.
“Every year it is a challenge to field enough players but we have a big club and word seems to travel. We are always contacted by other kids from the different schools who are interested in playing,” said Exiles Coach Dan Soso.
Currently they draw from about six different high schools in Montgomery County, Md. Soso also tells his players to each bring someone to practice with them and gathers new talent in this way as well.
Anne Arundel County wing James Jones scored his teams’ only try for the day and it was a huge morale booster for the young squad.
“The Exiles are really an international team,” said Coach Michael Anderson. “I am very proud of the boys who played today. After only four practices and having a lot of players new to rugby, I thought they performed well.”
“They are a big, physical team and they are going to be a tough team to contend with down the road,” said Soso of AACo.
The remainder of the scoring on the day belonged to the Maryland Exiles, with David Cantwell scoring his second try. Cantwell is the nephew of former USA 7s player Tom Sanders. Sanders was a fullback on the Exiles Men’s team and also an All-American at the University of Virginia.
Maryland Exiles U19s 47
Tries: Gonzales, Rogi, S. Dean, Cantwell 2, Klause, R. Dean, Von Hortch, Drummond, Convs: Castro
Anne Arundel County 5
- Nicholay Biancheri 2. Julio Gonzales 3. Sean Custead 4. Nick Hays 5. Stuart Dean 6. Nick Franklin 7. David Canonse 8. Nicholas Rogi 9. Brandon Drummond 10. Luis Von Hortch 11. Arthur Dalanartinie 12. Paul Vincent 13. Francisco Castro 14 Chris Minor 15. Nico Pouliquien reserves Ryan Dean, David Cantwell, Rafael Crause
1. Ricardo Maldonado 2. Aaron Satzberg 3. J.D. Crutchley 4. Alex Jarnot 5. Cameron Minty 6. Dominic Fonseca 7. William Woodward 8. Jake Faranetta 9. Liam McNally 10. Mitch Swain 11. Brendan Cantler 12. Alex Poole 13. Shawn Wobble 14. James Jones 15. Andrew Scopel reseves Thomas Moran, Aiden Malinowski