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The Washington Wolverines broke down at the 2018 Great Northwest Challenge Regional Cup Tournament this past weekend in Boise, Idaho.
No, they did not have some disciplinary issues, like the eight yellow card-earning Washington Loggers, nor did they run out of players from injury or fatigue like the Washington Loggers Girls JV—instead, it was their bus that was malfunctioning.
The Washington Wolverines team bus broke down three times on the way to Boise, and their 40-member contingent played two all-star level matches on Saturday on less than three hours of sleep.
The Wolverines put up both Varsity and JV sides for the RCT and their big blue school bus was carrying around 40 players. The FloRugby commentators found out about the bus incident during the varsity Wolverines' first match. A coach came up to the tent and said, “These kids' bus broke down last night. The lucky ones leaned on each other outside the bus and got an hour or two of sleep.” Many of these players likely had never played together but now would have to lean on each other for nine hours in the June heat.
The JV Standout
Coming into their second match against the Rhino Rugby Academy, several other RCT teams heard rumor of the bus incident and paid the Wolverines some respect. The JV boys were 1-0, and a win over Rhino win would grant them a shot at the semifinals and a good night of sleep.
One of the standout players for the Wolverines was fullback Nathan Chrisman. He was selected to the JV side but displayed vision and kicking ability beyond his years, and the exhausted team would need to rely on the young playmaker for a spark. Washington was down early but battled back to within a try. With just five minutes remaining, Chrisman spotted a weakness in the Rhino defense and chased down his own chip kick for a try to take the lead late in the match.
Rhino Rugby would have one last possession and was playing an exhausted Wolverine team. Rhino drove methodically and forced the Wolverines to defend before touching down an extra-time try. The Wolverines were defeated but recognized what they had done and what was still ahead.
“On the way down here the bus broke down three times and we had a mechanic out twice, but the effort these guys put out was great,” Chrisman said.
After an exhausting Day One, the Wolverines had their team talk and got some sleep.
“I believe we can still finish this tournament, we just need a good night’s rest and come back tomorrow,” Chrisman said.
Chrisman and the 40 Wolverine players overcame the exhausting bus incident and rallied to win all their matches on Day Two. The effort the Wolverines showed is what the RCTs are all about. Most of the players are new to each other, but the goal is to showcase their talent—and their character—for collegiate scouts and All-American selectors.