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UMW and Tennessee Find Game Time in the Rain

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UMW and Tennessee Find Game Time in the Rain

Photo Dan Harralson Vols Wire.

Saturday was a full day of rugby in Knoxville, Tenn. as Mary Washington and Lindenwood traveled to play with University of Tennessee.

While the marquee game was Lindenwood's A-side against UMW, there were other games, as well, giving over 120 college rugby players important game time.

Lindenwood Shuts Out UMW in the Tennessee Rain

Mary Washington Bs played Tennessee's Bs in pouring rain. With the conditions, play revolved heavily around the forward packs trying to maintain possession with short hit-ups from the pack on both sides. Scrumhalf Luke Willis said that “staying tight and controlled” was what they preached before game time which ended up working well for Mary Washington as the forwards were able to make large gains. The Mothers used that pressure to get a 50% conversion rate on entries into the Tennessee 22.

But what really stood out for the Mary Washington attack was the inclusion of their backline in such sloppy conditions. They spread the ball well and took advantage of space, having a great day with the boot.

“They didn’t have much of a back three it was really just their fullback, so I wanted to test him and that opened up opportunities for us,” said outside center Daniel Moscrop. 

This confidence with the kicking game brought about opportunities and UMW capitalized, with Moscrop himself scoring three tries. The standout player for Mary Washington, however, was probably Themba Martin-Keilr, who covered the ground well and got a well-earned try of his own. 

Being part of the team is what's behind his work rate, said Martin-Keilr. “Just being around the guys, I know they’re there for me so I just wanted to be there for them.”

On the Tennessee side of the ball there was a lot to be proud of. Though the result wasn’t much in their favor, there were many bright spots, most notably was fullback Patrick, Carey who received the ball well even with the torrential rain.

Carey was able to break off many long returns using his pace and taking advantage of a still firm enough ground to step around opposing players. The fact that Tennessee played so much defense revealed the line speed and tackling of Ted Naher, where he excelled. Tennessee was able to keep the game within reach going into the half down 26-5; they got a try from Gavin Sheridan. But the trouble came when they started to sub out their starters, with a noticeable drop-off in experience and physicality. This gave Mary Washington’s pack many more free runs at a stagnant defensive line. Final score 42-5 UMW. 

Overall, a wet day of rugby turned into a physical battle with both teams trying to show off the strength of their forward pack, with Mary Washington able to pull out a resounding victory. Mary Washington will head back to Fredericksburg to prepare for Virginia Tech on the 17th and Tennessee will take a break from 15’s for the week to focus on the Tuscaloosa 7s tournament, hosted by the University of Alabama rugby team in Tuscaloosa, Ala. next week.

—Toby Fagan