South Bend, Ind. – The Fighting Irish of Notre Dame laid claim to the first ever Catholic Cup rugby match, beating Wheeling Jesuit University 69-7 in a well contested, but lopsided victory.
The Cardinals suffered from a poor tackling performance leading to most of Notre Dame’s points on the day.
“Credit to Notre Dame, they are a well coached and physical side,” said Wheeling Jesuit Head Coach Eric Jerpe. “Overall we’re happy with the inaugural Catholic Cup though. It was a clean, and spirited match. Outside of having a tough time tackling, there are definitely some positives to take away with us. As our young team develops, matches like this will only help us improve in the long run.”
The opening fifteen minutes of the match were back and forth, signaling both teams’ ability to gain territory and deliver punishing hits. Wheeling Jesuit was without U-20 All-American Prop Max Lum, who missed the match due to a family commitment, giving Notre Dame a distinct advantage in the scrums. After 17 minutes of play, the Fighting Irish used the advantage in the scrums to score their first try from five meters out.
Missed tackles began to curse the Cardinals, allowing Notre Dame to run out to a 35-0 halftime lead, and preventing WJU from putting together much offensive cohesiveness.
It wasn’t until 10 minutes into the second half when the Cardinals were able to get on the board. WJU built mounting pressure on Notre Dame, when freshman Allan Hanson (Cape Girardeau, M.O.) put fellow freshman Dante Walters (Sacramento, Calif.) into space on a well worked switch move, and Walters proceeded to storm 30 meters untouched for what would be the only points on the day for Wheeling Jesuit.
The Cardinals will play their first home match of the spring season next week when they host perennial Empire Conference powerhouse St Bonaventure University at WJU’s James LaRossa Athletic Complex.
“We’re going to rebound from this experience, and focus all our energy on putting on a great performance for our hometown crowd,” added Jerpe. “It will be a fun, and exciting experience for any sports fan. Even if you don’t know much about rugby, we’ll teach you all you need to know to enjoy a great game of rugby.”