Gonzaga HS won the Jesuit Cup this past weekend in Alexandria, Va., beating #1-ranked Xavier 26-7 in the final.
The Jesuit Cup is a competition drawing boys Jesuit high schools from around the country to compete in a tournament style. The tournament also features brackets for JV and freshman teams.
“This allows young players to be part of the competition and get the full experience,” said Gonzaga Director of Rugby Lee Kelly.
The tournament has expanded of late, with Loyola Blakefield of Baltimore, Md. and St. Ignatius of Cleveland, Ohio entering this year. St. Ignatius did well, beating Fordham Prep 29-5 and Fairfield Prep 24-0 during the weekend and losing to Xavier.
But the main event was the final, with top-ranked Xavier, fresh off a successful tour of California where they beat Jesuit of Sacramento, against Gonzaga, fresh off a successful tour of Argentina and Uruguay where they played the Uruguayan U17 team and also Californian power Dixon, also on tour.
“We played well,” said Xavier Head Coach Joe Sweeney. “We made more line breaks than Gonzaga and overall we weren’t unhappy with how we played, but Gonzaga played better. They really disrupted our lineouts and their #10 was excellent.”
That would be High School All American Ben Cima, who slotted several difficult penalty kicks, including one from 47 meters, and used his punting ability to pin Xavier back in their end.
“We made line breaks, but we usually had to go 80 meters,” said Sweeney.
Kelly was, overall, very pleased with his charges. They had played a tough round of games in Argentina, and those games, he said, got his squad used to a faster pace of the game. He was also pleased that his backup flyhalf and scrumhalf performed superbly while the starters, Cima and Jimmy Ronan, were with the HS All Americans.
“We learned a lot in South America,” he said. “The Argentine pace of the game is very quick, and Uruguay are scrappy. We go there every two years and it’s a great education for us.”
Gonzaga has won the Jesuit Cup over Xavier before, but have gone on to the national tournament only to find Xavier a sterner test. With a young squad, Kelly said he hopes to peak later and ride this success to a possible title in May.