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Radford University Club Rugby was back in action over the Thanksgiving Break when they played division rival Mary Washington on Nov. 19. It was crunch time for the Highlanders and a win would secure the Division II State Championship for the Highs. It was the last game of the semester and the last game for flanker Tyler Wood and center James Wallace, as they will be graduating in December.
Radford came out fired up, and their intensity showed when Michael Quigg kicked over the Eagles backline. Chased down by Radford, Quigg was able to retrieve his own kick and touch the ball down inside five minutes.
Five minutes after the first score, Radford scored again. This time a perfectly dummied pass by Quigg left the Eagles static and gave Quigg the room to skip through the opposing line to score for a second time.
It seemed like a dream start for the Highlanders but an intercepted pass caught by the Eagles wing saw Mary Washington get their first points of the day.
Mary Washington then scored twice in quick succession and got the lead. The score after 32 minutes in the first half was 19-12 to the Eagles.
Radford was not about to go into the second half down, and a determined Chris Gentile ran through the center of the Eagles backline to equal the score to 19-19 at the half. As the second half got underway, it was the Highlanders who struck first. Great offloads by the Radford side gave room to Hayden Angulo to sprint over the try line to score five minutes into the half.
RU wasn’t going to ease the pressure, and in the 51st minute Angulo again was able to break free on account of the great offloads to score and extend the Highlanders’ lead to 33-19.
Attacking the weakened Eagles backline proved effective, the Highlanders scored again. Quigg was able to outrun his opposing number to storm into the try zone for a second time on the afternoon.
Three unanswered tries by the Highlanders indicated that Radford surely was going to run away with the win but without warning Mary Washington scored in the 60th minute to close that gap to 40-26.
The pressure was surely on as Eagles tested the Highlanders defense, but hard work paid off. Loosehead prop Anthony Sutherly was able to break tackles and run down the sideline before dishing it to Angulo to score again for the Highs.
Sophomore Winger Jordan Lehman scored his first points of the day four minutes after Angulo’s try. The simple ‘get the ball out’ play worked perfectly on an overload and Radford was able to pull away from the Eagles.
At the end of the match, the scoreboard showed a blowout Radford victory as they defeated the Eagles, 57-26. Joe Baxter went six out of nine on kicks for the day. With the win, Radford won the Virginia Rugby Union Division II State Championship.
“It was a great way to end the season out on top. This is just the beginning though as now we will be focusing on the playoffs,” Quigg said.
Head Coach Chris McCann spoke fondly of the team, which outscored its opponents this season by a margin of 315-111.
“I am extremely proud of the players but we have a lot of work to do,” McCann said.
The team will now look forward to the Virginia Rugby Union national playoffs, where Radford Rugby will look to repeat the success of 2003 and 2008; RU Rugby won the national title in both of those years. With the regular season coming to an end, President Nick Kaldowey reflected on 2011.
“The game had its up and downs but Radford always comes out on top. I’m really proud of all the guys,” Kaldowey said.