The Mizzou Rugby team went into their match against Kansas State knowing that it would be extremely important in determining the winner of the Heart of America Conference at the end of the year. After last year’s loss to Kansas State, in which the Wildcats kicked a penalty kick as time expired to beat the Tigers by one, ultimately keeping Mizzou from the national tournament, the Tigers were focused and motivated to avenge that loss.
It was an extremely physical and hard fought defensive game from both sides. The Kansas State forwards ran a lot of pick-and-go’s off of the the rucks, forcing the Tiger tacklers to hit low and hard. The majority of the first 10 minutes were spent in Mizzou’s defensive half as the Wildcats kept solid possesion and slowly advanced the ball down the field with runs by forwards and occssionally swinging the ball out to the backs. After a Mizzou ruck penalty, Kansas State lined up a penalty goal from about 20 meteres out that was missed low and left. After a few more changes of possesion, Kansas State found themselves in the same position, lining up a penalty kick. This time it was converted, putting the Wildcats up 3-0.
The Tiger offense started to take off shortly there after. Off a scrum in their offensive half, the Tigers swung the ball to the inside center before the weakside wing Ty Nash crashed from the inside, shook a defender, and dragged one more into the try zone for the score. Gareth Jones converted to give the Tigers a 7-3 lead. A few minutes later, Mizzou found themselves deep in Wildcat territory. After forcing Kansas State into a penalty, Prop and captain Connor Fairfax alertly quick tapped the ball just a few meters from the goal line, then passed to flanker Adam Cooley who ran over one defender and finished for a try. Jones converted to give Mizzou a 14-3 lead headed into the half.
Kansas State’s offense was completely shut down in the second half thanks to the Tigers’ stingy defense. Mizzou’s forward pack led the way with mulitple big hits by James Glavin and Connor Fairfax, while Marc Makovicka and Mickey Watson strongly contested rucks and contributed to the stingy defense near the rucks. After having stressed finishing strong and being physically fit for this game, the Tigers were extremely happy with their second half performance. Captain Shane Glascott said before the match, “This game will be won in the second half.” The Tigers seemed to have taken that to heart with their physicality during the final 20 minutes of play. Although defense was the highlight of the second half, near the end of regulation Glascott made a break off a counter attack run before dishing it to Blake Ollar who beat Kansas State defenders down the sideline for the score. After Jones’s third conversion, Mizzou finished with a 21-3 win over the Kansas State. After the game, 5th year senior Glascott said, “In my eight years of rugby, I have never seen a team want to win that badly.” The Tigers played inspired, and physical defense and provided enough offense to take down the Wildcats and stay on track in their quest for nationals.
MIzzou plays a friendly against the University of Kansas next weekend (10/24) in Kansas City, MO (Swope Park). Game time is 3:45pm.