Santa Rosa Rugby has earned themselves a spot in the USA Rugby Club Division II Semifinals. They defeated the St Louis Bombers in the National Round of 16 by a score of 47-21, and in the Quarterfinals, they beat Pasadena 17-15.
There were many factors that worked in Santa Rosa’s favor in their most recent matches. The first thing mentioned by Coach Alan Petty is that they managed to stay healthy all weekend, which was remarkable. Also, his players were able to make many adjustments in the game against St. Louis, and were able to fix defensive lapses on the fly. Santa Rosa also had a chance to execute a situation that they have worked hard on in recent practices. They needed to score in the closing seconds of the match and they were able to do so.
Santa Rosa has faced strong competition over the past couple of years, and that has helped the team improve. The team has learned a lot, especially after losses. Coach Petty remembers a match against San Francisco that they lost by a wide margin. The team has responded to losses really well, and “we decided we needed to raise the bar.” Through these challenges, some players decided they were not up for the task of playing at a high level. However, those that stuck around raised their work rate. The team is fitter now than it ever has been and the leaders have set the tone.
One player mentioned by Coach Petty is Winger Greg Hildebrand. He has raised his own personal fitness level and has also helped the team improve by running training sessions on off days. Petty remarks that, “it is outrageous how effective he is with two minutes left in the game.”
Petty says the team carefully breaks down statistics from their matches, and that based on what they have seen, ball handling errors must decrease for the team to be successful. He says, “we can’t drop the ball, we can’t have so many scrums, and we can’t turn it over in our part of the field.”
Coach Petty also believes that if they can be in the game in the last 15 minutes, and the players put everything they have into it, then they have a good chance in the semifinals. “We want to play well every minute, every game, and the chips will fall where they may.”