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Player Spotlight: Tavius Sykora Matthess, Iowa Central CC

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Player Spotlight: Tavius Sykora Matthess, Iowa Central CC

Tavius Sykora Matthess finds some space to run. Photo Ollie Laseinde.

In these pages you’ll have seen our support for the Bowl Game concept, because we believe it provides nice closure to a fall pr spring season, and it offers teams a chance to play opponents they don’t normally see.

But it also is a selfish thing, because we at GRR see teams, and players, in new circumstances, and that helps us rank teams or spotlight talent. Today, we spotlight talent. In the Bowl Game December 11 between Iowa Central CC and Wheeling, we couldn’t help but notice Tavius Sykora-Matthess.

Not least of which because we’ve seen his name spelled five different ways. So we asked him directly—hence the spelling above. So of course Wheeling won this game, and they won it in part thanks to some impressive speed and elusiveness in their backline. But that doesn't mean their opposition didn't play well. And if we're talking about players who might project to the next level, Sykora Matthess was one.

A football player and wrestler through his time in high school in Iowa at Washington HS, Sykora Matthess was lured to rugby by a friend, and after a brief look at playing football in college, found himself at Iowa Central.

At 6-6 (maybe 6-7), and maybe now around 230 pounds he is a lock-flanker-No. 8 with tons of pace and agility, and a willingness to drag defenders for extra yards.

He played on the defensive line in football and the role translates nicely into a willingness to defend the fringe around the ruck, and as a defensive end he knows how to be quick off the line.

He’s also smart and agile—physically and mentally—and that has translated into a player who seems to have picked up the game fairly quickly. His play doesn’t scream “new to the sport.”

“I enjoyed rugby from the first time I tried it,” Sykora Matthess told GRR. “The special thing about it is that I’ve never been on a team like this. The camaraderie and how we come together as a team is a big part of why I love it.”

All the boxes get ticked for Tavius Sykora Matthess, including humility. 

Watch this sequence. Sykora Matthess is wearing #4 for Iowa Central in white. Wheeling goes on a break. What how he is able to keep pace, get into the correct position, not give up a penalty, make a tackle, fail at a poach, make a tackle, and then force a holding-on penalty (all while getting his headgear ripped off).

Watch this sequence in which Sykora Matthess gets them going forward and then beats six defenders and uses his body to protect the ball and score.

The kind of rugby player a team like Iowa Central CC can bring to the game, Tavius Sykora Matthes is definitely a talent to watch.