From Head Coach Joe Birdsall:
“’Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm’ – Winston Churchill
Only 2%, or 500, of the 23,000+ men playing rugby in the United States will start for a D1 side on any given Saturday and only half of them are going to win. Our focus is ensuring that each Barbarian selected is one of the top 500 players in the country and that the Barbarians are prepared to win. Every failure is an opportunity for a younger Barbarian to step up or an established Barbarian to adapt. I’m continually impressed with the high level of personal accountability, resilience, effort, and enthusiasm on this team. It’s bye week and several players are nicked-up so we cancelled Tuesday practice. Then, 36 guys decide to un-cancel it. Awesome!
Alex Mross is another great example. He’s been grinding on the D3 roster and D1 reserve roster for the past couple years. On Saturday, he scored two beautiful tries and earned Man of the Match. Success for this group seems to be inevitable and only a matter of time.”
Coming off a tough Week One matchup against Metropolis, the D1 side had their hearts set on a win away from home. Trainings leading up to the clash with Palmer were focused on restructuring and addressing the plan of attack.
“Palmer has always had very powerful and mobile forwards. The plan was to expose the gaps they left open in the backs and attack where they weren’t as strong” said Captain Joe Grams. “By committing their bigger guys mid-field and then swinging it wide, the idea was to get to open space and have a go.”
That structure seemed to be the right choice, as winger Alex Mross was able to score off his own chip-and-chase down the sideline. Both defenses were able to stand strong, with the Barbarians going into the half down by a try.
The second half saw the Dragons step up the intensity and put multiple tries up on the board. Stemming from handling errors and simple mistakes, they were able to capitalize and create a lot of distance between the scores. Two more tries from Alex Mross and Jeff Cebe helped close the gap, but in the end, Palmer was able to hang on to their lead.
The Barbarians go into Week Three with an open weekend, looking to Week Four with a home matchup against Kansas City. Fitness and team cohesion has been addressed and the boys will be looking to correct their mistakes with a win at home.
For the D3 side, things couldn't have begun any better. From the opening kickoff we marched right down the field, playing controlled and to our gameplan and came away with an unconverted try in the opening minutes. WRC,Sharks seemed to be awakened by that sequence as they proceeded to lock in their gameplan and came back quickly with a penalty conversion and an unconverted try of their own. The Sharks crossed the try line again and seemed to be rolling at the 20 minute mark, up 5-15. It seemed things could start falling apart, but the boys dialed their defense back in and both teams went back and forth for the second part of the 1st half with neither side able to gain anything of significance. Halftime 5-15.
Resettling into the second half, the Sharks took advantage of the Barbarians mistakes and put another penalty conversion and try in to start pulling ahead comfortably, 5-25. Once again the Barbarians didn't give up. Running flyhalf for the Barbarians for the first time, Liam Hanley got the ball out to his backs and followed nicely, taking an offload from center Jack Carter and cruised through the Sharks defense and into the try zone, also converting on his kick, 12-25 at the 60-minute mark.
The Sharks and Barbarians exchanged tries one more time over the next 10 minutes extending the score to 17-32. There was some nice play in the loose and our Man of the Match Zach Baier put through a try which was well deserved as he put on a defensive clinic on tackling and positioning throughout the afternoon.
The final 10 minutes exposed one of our weaknesses at this stage: fitness. The Sharks kept possession and were able to march down the field and score 4 tries to finish off the match. The heart was there in the boys and they never gave up on themselves or each other, but when you don't have any gas in the tank it's hard to get around and match what's coming at you; especially defensively.
Overall it was a good effort and plenty of things that we can work on. As we put in the work at practice to up that work rate and match the pace, it will allow us to work through those points in the match. With continued training together, we will build sequence and follow gameplan far more effectively.