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Christian Brothers Memphis Splits on New Orleans Trip

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Christian Brothers Memphis Splits on New Orleans Trip

Jesuit in blue and white, CBA in purple and white. Paul Beckmann photo.

First, we have to admit we love going to New Orleans.  The teams we play, the beauty of City Park, and the spirit of camaraderie the coaches, referees, players, and supporters exhibit are unprecedented.  Both Brother Martin and Jesuit of New Orleans are class acts led by models of the culture and competitiveness of the game.  For us, this relationship is becoming a staple need in how we are able to move forward.  

CBA in purple stripes, Jesuit in blue stripes. Paul Beckmann photo.
Christian Brothers Memphis rugby v Jesuit NOLA Rugby. Paul Beckmann photo.
Christian Brothers Memphis rugby v Jesuit NOLA Rugby. Paul Beckmann photo.

Two New Orleans HS teams hosted Memphis-based Christian Brothers Academy as part of CBA’s pre-season preparation.

Christian Brothers split the two games, losing to Jesuit-New Orleans 38-12, and beating Brother Martin 33-24.

“We love going to New Orleans,” said CBA Coach Justin Whitmer. “The teams we play, the beauty of City Park, and the spirit of camaraderie the coaches, referees, players, and supporters exhibit are unprecedented.  Both Brother Martin and Jesuit of New Orleans are class acts led by models of the culture and competitiveness of the game.  For us, this relationship is becoming a staple need in how we are able to move forward.”

The Christian Brothers team has had some significant player turnover and is also implementing a new offensive approach. So it took a while to get into the swing of play.

“Early in the Brother Martin game, our players realized the quick play of the game and the need to increase intensity and teamwork,” said Whitmer. “As players made those adjustments, the team progressed as we hoped it would.”

The tight play with the forwards started to bear fruit and the lineouts, especially, operated nicely. With Tomas Alsenas gaining territory with his kicking. Newcomer J.J. Burruss impressed with hard runs and showed some understanding of the flow of the game despite having just moved from football to rugby. Another newcomer, Stone Ewan, proved himself a force in the lineouts, which helps Alsenas use his boot on penalties.

“While the Brother Martin scoreboard was more favorable, we made many strides in both games,” said Whitmer. “Based on penalties, we performed better vs. Brother Martin. Without question our fitness proved to be a great weakness in the Jesuit game, resulting in more penalties, and less focused play.”

Against Jesuit, Christian Brothers opened the scoring with a nice try down the wing, but Jesuit took control of much of the game after that. Jesuit enjoyed a bounty of both possession and territory. Despite this, handling errors and several penalties prevented Jesuit from capitalizing and crossing the tryline until midway through the first period. After about 25 minutes played, Jesuit hooker Noah Tobin stole a scrum against the head deep in Christian Brothers territory. Scrumhalf Josh Cashio alertly called for a weakside move, which he worked with No. 8 John McCord and wing Dylan Meyer to set up Meyer for the score. With the regular Jesuit kicker at a USA South camp, Tobin took over kicking duties and he hit the tough conversion attempt for a 7-5 lead. After the restart Jesuit marched forward again and a ruck penalty led to three points from Tobin.

The second half saw Jesuit settle into its pattern. Early in the period Jesuit stretched the width of the field, as Meyer passed to tighthead prop Peyton Cox, whose 6-2, 290-pound frame rumbled about 60 meters before being dragged down by five defenders as he crossed the tryline. The try was not allowed - ball held up - and from the ensuing scrum Jesuit attacked at midfield, and then Cashio set up wing Jacob Whitlow for the try. Throughout the remainder of the half Jesuit punished Christian Brothers discipline. Flanker Lobrano capped off a series of pick-and-drives, and Cashio scored one also.

Later in the second period Christian Brothers found its stride and found itself on the front foot, earning territory deep in Jesuit’s half. A penalty against Jesuit was quick tapped by the visitors, who attacked up the gut and then scored out wide.

Tobin was names player of the game, as he did a solid job at hooker, stealing three CBA put-ins and leading the scrum, and added five conversions and a penalty. 

For Christian Brothers, the game was a valuable lesson.

“With the Jesuit game, we are most frustrated by the fitness,” said the CBA Coach. “Lacking better fitness, our boys began arm tackling and getting mindless penalties, such as offsides. We have to work on greater communication and trust in one another.  This is a difficult concept for many people not familiar with rugby.  Without question, this trip has helped us pick out our weaknesses and build on our strengths.  Even more important, it allowed us to develop our depth chart, so we can move forward.”

For Christian Brothers, Colin Remscheid led from the front and showed a strong work ethic. Grant Caldwell also showed great ability in adjusting to the defense, and getting his team go-forward. Bailey Pletz, Ethan Smith, and Adam Harknett all had several good moments.