The Eagle Impact Rugby Academy U16s got their first taste of international, elite-level rugby with this week's tour of British Columbia.
On Thursday, the U16s defeated British Columbia U16s 32-12, in a game in which the Americans looked about as cohesive as you could expect a group to look after being together for just a few days. The team produced some solid performances. Up front, George Henry Miller, George Baron, and Mava Roberts were solid, and in the back row Colin Turner seemed to pop up everywhere to make a play.
Among the backs, Drew Sanderson was a try-scoring wing who kicked goals, and there was also a lot of talk about Jesuit Sacramento flyhalf Max Schumacher.
"We had a lot of forward momentum and that allowed us to put it out to the backs," Schumacher said. "We tried to suck them in and then were able to use our backs, use our skills. As a flyhalf, we're supposed to direct the game, but all the boys worked really well together. BC was good competition; they were awesome."
BC tried to win based on its size and power, but it didn't quite work -- in part because not only did the EIRA players work as a unit on attack but also their defensive tactics and bravery were top-notch.
"If we can get them to communication off the field, we can get them to communicate on the field," EIRA head coach Jeff Bonnett said. "They were bigger than us... we lost some forwards before we got here. So we knew we had to outhustle them."
So Saturday brings a new game and a second chance to win, but BC will have rethought some aspects of its approach.
"I'm very proud of the boys; they played will a lot of heart, but we didn't get the result we wanted," said BC U16s captain Ciaran Hearn, who also pointed out that his team outscored the EIRA U16s 12-10 in the second half. "The whole team needs to realize where we need to attack and when. Once we pull that together, I am very confident we're going to have a great team."
Eagle Impact Rugby Academy Lineup For 1st Game vs. BC U16s1. George Henry Miller, V, Jesuit High School; 2. George Baron, Saint Thomas Aquinas KS; 3. Mavaeganailetai Roberts, South Bay Spartans; 4. Lucas Pattinson, Back Bay; 5. Jake Stone, San Diego Aztecs; 6. Marcus Pinzon, North County Youth Rugby; 7. Colin Turner, Back Bay; 8. Triston Haverty, Granite Bay Rugby; 9. Brayden Goodnight, Brownsburg; 10. Max Schumacher, Jesuit HS; 11. Edwin Sanderson, Granite Bay Rugby; 12. Jake Negrete, San Joaquin Memorial HS; 13. Peyton Wall, Leo Lions Rugby; 14. Jacob Cortinas, Peninsula Green RFC; 15. Ethan van Tonder, Rocky Mountain
Reserves: 16. Jonathan Hammond, West Shore United; 17. Dylan Richardson, Corona Hawks; 18. Jacob McDonald, Aztec Warriors; 19. Alex Geisert, Liberty North HS; 20. Luca Gillespie-Brown, Peninsula Green RFC; 21. John Nelson, Temecula Rugby; 22. Jack Flanagan, Phoenix Firebirds; 23. Ben Wierenga, Valley Center HS; 24. Gabriel Wegge, OMBAC; 25. Braiden Manusina, Arrowhead Berserkers