Last weekend, the 35 member strong Highlands Rugby Club Vatos (10-3-1) won the College Division of the prestigious 40th Annual High Desert Classic Rugby Tournament in Albuquerque. On Saturday, the Vatos easily won their pool by defeating New Mexico State University 34-10 and Northern Arizona University 19-7 to advance to the semifinals. Sunday saw the Vatos find no contest with Ft. Lewis College 28-0, before again facing NMSU who had beaten the other pool winner New Mexico Tech 24-0 in the other semifinal. After a slow, unnecessarily cocky start, the Vatos ran wonderful expansive and joyful rugby in the second half, to win 34-12, and claim their clear dominance in regional college rugby. Concurrently, the Vato “B” side won the college consolation bracket with a surprising 28-14 win over NAU. For his solid tackling, exciting running, and quiet leadership, junior and fullback Adrian McDuff from Dallas, Texas, was named the tournament’s College Division MVP over many other high quality efforts by his Vato teammates.
“It was a pleasant way to finish the fall portion of the 2011-12 rugby season. I was particularly happy to see our developing “B” side rally to win the consolation. Beating much larger schools in the game of rugby is always as satisfying as it is expected by our standards. We still need to play the game smarter and without interventions and motivations by the coach. Rugby is a player’s, not a coach’s, game. The captain is the singular, responsible leader during the game. We also need to lose some adipose tissue, fat, and gain some aerobic muscle, fitness, if we are to be successful again at the national level. As per the cliché, we are big fish in a little pond and maybe a bit too proud of ourselves. Nevertheless, I am very happy for the boys and their sportsmanship. The Vatos and their student leaders, Scotty Soto and Brian Ybarra, showed class on and off the fields. We are a fairly good rugby team, and we are on a solid trajectory that may make some lasting memories. Others may even become proud of us,” reflected Coach Greene reflected.
The Highlands Rugby Club thanks their supporters and sponsors. The independent Vatos hope to continue to represent Highlands, Las Vegas, San Miguel County, and New Mexico in a positive way when they continue the 2011-2012 season in late February. Most importantly, they will work hard to earn their university degrees. Rugby is recreation for fitness and fun.
Everyone is welcome to join the club in this lifelong sport and become a fit rugby player. Please contact Coach Greene at firstname.lastname@example.org.