For a relatively young program, the Washington State University Cougars made a good showing on Sunday at the Northwest Collegiate Rugby Championships in Seattle. And though they only took seventh place with a 12-5 win over Oregon, success can definitely be in this team’s near future
It was a tough road for the Cougars, having played (UW) Huskies twice and Central; and equally so for the Ducks, who had to fight Oregon State, Idaho and Eastern.
“We have some young talent messed with some experienced players and that always helps,” WSU assistant Matt Hudson said. “I’m proud of the way these guys are playing and the improvement they have shown in such a short time.”
From start to finish the Cougars looked sharp, but knew the Ducks had some versatile weapons to break loose at any moment. Within a few minutes of the opening kickoff WSU’s Ben Bellmont muscled his way through two defenders and reached with every inch of his arm over the end line for the first score.
And after a few minutes of great defense, rucking, passing and pursuit by both teams the Cougars’ Lars Swenson went for a kick past a Duck player. Soon as the ball went flying uncontrollably through the air, it managed to find the Oregon player’s chest; bounced off and right back to Swenson for a long score and a 12-0 lead for the Cougars.
Towards the end of the match, Oregon’s Spencer Ams took the ball some 60 meters down the right sideline and juked a defender en route to the Duck’s only score of the game.
When the final whistle sounded, players from both teams walked off the field battered and bruised, but with their heads held high and a long road trip back to school.
“There was a coaching error on my part in our previous game, so I went back to what worked,” WSU coach Nolan Allen said. “Offensively, I stressed support going into contact and on the breakaways; defensively we continued with attacking the runner when they got into our individual zones. We did well on both sides and came away with a victory.”