by Travis Normand
February 24, 2020
I attended Texas A&M’s final Red River Rugby Conference XVs game of the 2019-2020 season on Saturday, February 22, 2020 (their final regular season game). The game was played at the USMLR’s Houston Sabercats’ Aveva Stadium. I could write an entire post on how fantastic the new Aveva stadium is and how amazing it is to have a rugby venue of this magnitude in Texas. If you get a chance to attend a game at Aveva stadium, I would highly recommend it.
The Aggies won their final regular season contest rather easily; and to be as blunt as possible, the Longhorns did not put up much of a fight. This is not to say the Aggies played a perfect game. In fact, had the Aggies been as sharp as they have been in the past, they could have easily broken the new Aveva stadium scoreboard by hanging triple-digits on their opponent. Instead, the Aggies only scored 92 points, while allowing the Longhorns to have 21 (and again, to be perfectly honest, the Longhorns were lucky to have scored the 21 points that they did).
Despite claims to the contrary (see here, here, and here), the Longhorn rugby club is just not on the same level as Texas A&M and they are not prepared to face competition of this type. After all, the past five match-ups between the two clubs (A-sides) have gone as follows:
(1) Feb. 22, 2020: Texas A&M – Win: 92-21 (in Houston);
(2) Nov. 2, 2019: Texas A&M – Win: 34-13 (in Austin);
(3) Jan. 26, 2019: Texas A&M – Win: 98-3 (in Austin);
(4) Sept. 22, 2018: Texas A&M – Win: 69-0 (in College Station); and
(5) Mar. 24, 2018: Texas A&M – Win: 19-5 (in College Station).
That is a scoring advantage by A&M of 312-42!
This past Saturday’s game featured uncontested scrums starting at around the 5 minute mark (5 minutes into the game) as the Longhorns’ hooker (No. 2, Jack Hurley) unfortunately broke his hand or wrist, and they only had three players qualified for the front row. While I truly hope Hurley’s hand is not actually broken, and I wish him a speedy recovery (regardless of the injury), the fact that the Longhorns could not field a proper pack of forwards is telling as to their level of competitiveness.
As I watched the game unfold, I couldn’t help but realize how awful the Longhorns’ forward play was, as they not only had an insufficient front row but they were also totally incapable of performing an effective ruck of any kind. I am not sure what they need to do in order to fix that problem, as they did appear to have some guys playing forward positions that are of decent size. However, they clearly are in need of a forwards coach that can instill some amount of skill and/or aggressiveness in those orange clad forwards. As I was leaving the game, I happen to walk past the Longhorns’ coach whom I overheard talking about how ineffective they were at the breakdown (I felt it necessary to tell him how much I agreed.)
On the other hand, the Aggies finished their RRRC season in impressive fashion and picked up 5 points towards the conference standings (finishing with a total of 30 points out of 30 possible; 5 points earned in all six conference games). The Aggies will now have to wait and see if Oklahoma can do the same, as the Sooners currently have 25 and only need to earn 5 points in their final game against UNT on February 29th.
For a complete game re-cap that is play-by-play or score-by-score, click HERE to read what I posted at “Maroon & White Rugby.”