Goff Rugby Twitter     Goff Rugby Facebook

BC High Takes Massachusetts IAA Title in Lightning-Delayed Game

irish rugby tours

BC High Takes Massachusetts IAA Title in Lightning-Delayed Game

BC High players celebrate.

Boston College High captured their 5th Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) title in six seasons last week, defeating Milton High School in game that took 17 hours due to lightning delays.

The MIAA final started on the evening June 30 at 6pm with temperatures in the upper 90s and high humidity. The conditions led both teams to struggle with continuity and the first few minutes also saw both teams testing the back three with territorial kicks. After 12 minutes of hard-hitting rugby, BC High center Jack O’Connell broke the line, and a few quick picks saw flanker and captain Amilcar Cabral touch down for a 5-0 lead.

Six minutes later, wing Jack McNicholl fielded a kick just inside the Milton half and returned it all the way to touch down under the posts. McNicholl converted his own try to give the Eagles a 12-0 lead. BC High was on a high, then, and seemed ready to settle in and take control. But then the lightning started about 24 minutes into the game. 

The delay took an hour and greasy conditions did not benefit either team. But they did return to the field, at which time Milton surged down to the BC High goalline. BC's defense held on, though, and the first half ended 12-0.

Halftime saw more lightning strike – so much so that the tournament director and coaches agreed the game could not be finished until morning, so everyone headed home.

So play resumed Thursday July 1 at 10am with new officials and perhaps some groggy players. BC High found space right away down the left touchline courtesy of another McNicholl run. This time lock Peter Dres picked quickly from the base of a ruck and put the Eagles ahead 19-0 with 25 minutes left to play.

At the restart Milton forced a turnover and after sustained pressure, dotted down get on the board 19-7. Both teams traded territory and BC High No. 8 Antoine Fauche broke a run and offloaded to Cabral, who was tackled five meters out. Prop Jackson McLarnon picked quickly from support and dotted it down to give the Eagles a 24-7 lead with 12 minutes to play.

BC High found themselves with an overlap after the restart, but center Amari Marsman read the final pass beautifully, intercepted, and strolled in under the posts to give Milton another try to make it 24-14. BC High regained possession on the restart and bled the clock with tight play and a tactical kick, content to defend in Milton’s half. The final whistle blew and the game ended 24-14.

"This team worked their tails off and brought a level of investment from day one that was incredible, both mentally and physically," said BC High Head Coach Paul Carty. "The physicality they brought all on their own was impressive. And of course, in a crazy year we had a crazy final that spanned over 2 days. Credit to both teams for showing up and doing it again on day two.”

BC High lost their opener to Belmont High but ran off a series of wins after that. For the team throughout the season, and especially in the final, defense was key.

"We excelled in matching numbers after rucks and making our tackles," said Carty. "In attack we had some big athletic ball carriers who made the gain line over and over, then we looked to attack space on the edge. Sometimes we were successful, sometimes guys looked for contact rather than making the extra pass."

The MIAA season was accomplished in part because of some compromise both at the MIAA level and with the rugby programs. There were various law changes brought into play, such as no-contest scrums where forwards were present in the scrum area but did not bind. 

"No-contest scrums really changed a lot since forwards were fresh throughout," said Carty. "And it meant that any scrums from 10 meters in were very difficult to defend. I think we will all be happy to go back to union next year."