Last Saturday, over 50 current Highlands Vatos and alumni enjoyed 12 games of rugby in happily cool and cloudy Santa Fe for the 38th Annual Santa Fe 10’s Tournament. It was a good day of rugby.
In their college division, the Vatos A side defeated UNM 28-10, Santa Fe 24-0, NMSU 32- 12. Earning the first seed in the playoffs, they again defeated 4th seed UNM 33-5 before losing in the finals to a smart, quick, fit, and courageous N.M. Tech 10-15. It was a huge upset, but well deserved win by a clever NMT team, who used the clock well and kept the ball away from the more athletic Vatos. "We learned a useful lesson losing to NMT, a team we beat 90% of the time. Rugby is a game of fitness and intelligence, not just power. Hat’s off to the engineers and scientists of N.M. Tech. I hope they offer us jobs in the future. We will see them again in a month, and we will remember this loss with a smarter game. I expect a very different resul,” Coach Greene said.
The Vato B side, that was full of first time players, also had a learning experience losing three straight to the more experienced NMT 5-15, NMSU 10-18, and UNM 12-22. “The score is never an important goal in these developmental B side games where everyone has a go. Gaining experience for these young players is the purpose. They did well and the future of the club is bright,” added Vato captain and graduate student Jesse Berryhill from Espanola.
On the 20th Anniversary of Highlands Vato Rugby, the Vatos Viejos, the alumni team in the Open Men’s Division started slowly, as alumni teams often do. They lost to Las Cruces (NMSU alumni), 12-18 and the solid Albuquerque Brujos 12-17. Getting the joints moving better again and almost making the semifinals, they closed with impressive wins over Albuquerque Rugby Club B Side 24-7 and Scottsdale AZ 22-5.
“It was great to get the boys together again for a bit of good rugby, refreshments, and fun. The new Vatos look very impressive. If they commit, get fit, and learn the game. I see another run at the national title in Men’s Division 3 for Highlands,” said Highlands alumnus and Western Rugby Union all-star, John Collier from Albuquerque.
The Vatos open their home season with a friendly game against the Albuquerque Rugby Club in Perkins Stadium this Saturday at 1 p.m. The powerful and highly respected Albuquerque RC Aardvarks finished #6 nationally last season and #2 the year before in Men’s Division 2. Everyone is welcome to the game and the postgame social. Admission is free.