First matches of the Fall 2014 season are this weekend with High Country hosting a round robin of High Country, Morehouse College, and Georgia Southern University. All are welcome to come and catch some great rugby and to cheer on these young and talented teams. First kickoff is 2PM EST at Southbend Park in Atlanta, GA.
First week of rugby practice will be held on Tuesday Aug 19 and Thursday Aug 21 at Atlanta’s Central Park. Start time is 7:30 PM. Bring running shoes, cleats, and a mouthpiece.
The time has come to prepare for Summer 7′s. Come out and get a run with your teammates and friends. For skill players we offer a great chance to highlight your abilities as we’ve got a great lineup of tournaments set for the summer. For developing players this is a chance to take your game to another level. And for you old veterans and forward types come out for a run and support your teammates. Practices are at Coan Park (1530 Woodbine Ave SE, Atlanta, GA 30317).
Saturday February 1st High Country Rugby stayed in Atlanta to face the Renegades. Here is the match report from our own Dion Rabouin.
After falling behind by two scores in the first 10 minutes of the match, things could have easily unraveled for the men of High Country, but a fiercely aggressive defense and the inimitable speed of wing Kevin Stewart proved to be too much for the Atlanta Renegades as High Country emerged victorious in their first matrix game of the 2014 division 3 season, 36-29.
The Renegades scored a try in the game’s opening minutes with Matt Wade touching down in the corner of the try zone and Lachlan Conyers adding a kick for points off of an early High Country penalty. The eight-point lead came at the 8:20 mark of the first half, but High Country soon answered the call.
After playing largely on High Country’s side of the pitch, the Renegades were the victims of a forced error by their fly half. An errant pass was picked off by Stewart who took the ball down the sideline and around defenders to touch the ball down right between the posts. Fullback Nick Giglio added the conversion to bring High Country within one. From then on, it was a different game.
“I got this invisible juice,” said Stewart, “and once I turn it on, I’m gone.”
Stewart’s impressive half wasn’t even finished. At the 26:00 minute mark, the speedy winger again burst past Renegades defenders on another long romp to the try zone, to put High Country on top for the first time in the game, 12-8.
“I’m trying to win coach,” Stewart said. “I ain’t trying to disrespect nobody, but winning is the only thing I respect.”
Stewart’s second trip to the try zone ignited the Renegades, who would rally back and score just before the end of the first half to take the lead, 15-12.
In the second half, High Country got on the board first, with captain Troy Albright stealing a kick out of the air and taking it into the try zone for a score just one minute into the period. But the Renegades stormed back 10 minutes later with a try from Devin Lomis, to again take the lead. The conversion from Conyers gave the Gades a 22-19 advantage.
But Stewart’s speed would again change the game. After slipping two tackles near the pitch’s east sideline, Stewart broke away from the Renegades’ defense and put a step on a final defender that was straight from the repertoire of legendary NFL running back Walter “Sweetness” Payton. Stewart’s score and a successive try by Garrett “Aryan Nation” Hilgendorff would prove to be decisive, as High Country came away from the match victorious.
“I was always a star,” said Stewart after the game. “Y’all just didn’t know about me yet.”
For High Country Coach Nicolas Ambrosini, the win was all about the little things the team had done right.
“You find out life’s this game of inches, so is football,” said Ambrosini. “Because in either game – life or football – the margin for error is so small. I mean, one half a step too late or too early and you don’t quite make it. One half second too slow, too fast and you don’t quite catch it. The inches we need are everywhere around us. They’re in every break of the game, every minute, every second. On this team we fight for that inch. On this team we tear ourselves and everyone else around us to pieces for that inch. We claw with our fingernails for that inch. Because we know when add up all those inches, that’s gonna make the fucking difference between winning and losing! Between living and dying!”
On the 25th, the boys from Atlanta’s own High Country Rugby Club, traveled to Birmingham Alabama to take on the Vulcans. Here is the match report with colorful commentary;
The men of High Country rugby came up short in a valiant effort against the Birmingham Vulcans on Saturday, losing to the Division II side 16-7 at their home pitch at Krebs Field at Erskine Ramsay Park.
The exhibition match was broken into four 20-minute quarters and High Country played well and battled the Vulcans to a standstill in the first and second periods. Though they were heavily penalized throughout, High Country managed to keep the Vulcans out of the try zone, executing a try-line stand and holding Birmingham without a try.
The Vulcans were able to control the game by taking advantage of numerous penalties on High Country, most for being offside. The team was also hit with a yellow card for wing Kevin Stewart for a high tackle. The referee was quick on the whistle and dinged the team for a number of controversial penalties. That led to a few opportunities for Birmingham, which converted kicks to take the lead.
High Country head coach Nicolas Ambrosini expressed his frustration about the situation after the match.
“Yeasdfsdh dhsafsdh hasdfsdfsh shsasllllll,” said Ambrosini. “Ja yahhsdsfd hshl;askjjkkj asdfdshhuk asdfsasd nsjdkjhjkn asdfsdasdfs asdfasdf chyhsk sdfafsdafsfsafsfsaffafasd da sone.”
While the home team controlled the tempo through well-timed kicks and taking advantage of set pieces, the visitors were able to make a few line breaks, one of which led to a score by center Garrett Hilgendorff.
In support of fly half Troy Albright, who had broken away on a 40-meter run, Hilgendorff took a pop pass into the try zone over two Vulcan defenders. The kick was converted by wing Nick Giglio, who did a terrible job on kickoffs but did manage to put the necessary two points from the conversion on the board.
For Hilgendorff, the long run was about more than putting points on the board.
“You know, with my job as an awesome bartender I sometimes don’t get the chance to do as much cardio as I’d like and my abs haven’t been as ripped and chiseled and I’d like,” he said, “so when I saw Troy running I knew this was a great opportunity for me to really burn some calories and try to perfect my model physique. Plus my hair looks really good blowing in the wind.”
While there were quite a few mistakes and the team was heavily penalized, the team tackled well and forward John Drapeau was named man of the match. As always, High Country was victorious at the drink up at Birmingham’s bar.
Happy with the progress made over the first few weeks, but still not content with the outcome, Ambrosini said he will be working on discipline and focus during High Country’s upcoming week of practice.
High Country will practice Tuesday and Thursday to prepare for their match on Saturday against Atlanta’s GRITS Rugby Club.
<<<UPCOMING TEAM EVENTS>>>
01/07/14 Team Conditioning Session
01/09/14 Team Conditioning Session
01/14/14 Joint Practice w/Old White
01/16/14 Joint Practice w/Old White
01/25/14 Exhibition Match - High Country @ Birmingham
02/01/14 Exhibition Match – GRITS @ High Country Rugby
<<<MATRIX SEASON BEGINS 02/08>>>
02/08/14 High Country @ Renegades B (MATRIX)
02/15/14 Team Pub Crawl
02/22/14 Athens @ High Country (MATRIX)
03/01/14 High Country @ Savannah (MATRIX)
03/08/14 St. Patrick’s Day Tournament – Savannah
03/15/14 NARC @ High Country (MATRIX)
03/22/14 Hilton Head @ High Country (MATRIX)
03/29/14 Bye Week – RWC Men’s Qualifier Eagles vs Uruguay – Kennesaw
04/05/14 Make up Match (if req’d)
04/12/14 GRU D3 Championship Game (#1 vs #2)
Practices are scheduled for T/TH every game week unless otherwise communicated.
9/7 – Possible Warm-up game OR HC Pub Crawl (keep this weekend open)
9/14 – Warm-up game
9/21 – Warm-up game
9/28 – Athens @ HC (home team may switch)
10/5 – HC @ Griffins
10/12 – OW @ HC
10/19 – HC @ Athens (again, home team may switch due to L5P Parade)
10/26 – Griffins @ HC
11/9 – HC @ OW
11/16 – Make-up games
They were down 14-0 at halftime and 21-0 with just minutes remaining in the game, but with unrelenting defensive pressure and some spectacular play, the men of High Country came back with a vengeance and beat Macon Love 22-21 to advance to the Matrix Final.
The whistles came fast and came often on Saturday afternoon, with High Country mired in penalties all game and even losing forward John Harley and fly half Troy Albright, their captain, to yellow cards during the match. Macon was even awarded a penalty try when the ref determined that High Country had been offsides on too many occasions near the try line. That try put the Love up 21-0, but it would be their final score of the game.
“At that point, I thought we may just be playing for pride, the love of the game and our fans that showed up for us,” admitted head coach Mitch Jaffe. “I learned an old lesson in a new way: Never under estimate the magic of a rugby team when 1 through 15 get on the same page and share one brain and goal.”
After scoring an earlier try to get on the board, High Country’s offense kicked into high gear. Kevin “K Stew” Stewart chased down a kick from Albright and touched it down to add another five points and fullback Danny Coreas bulldozed through a defender from short range to add another five to the scoreboard, making it 21-17.
With the clock starting to wind down, Macon attempted an ill-advised drop goal that went (very) wide of the uprights, and after a scrum High Country was able to get the ball into the hands of Stewart and he made magic happen, beating three defenders down the sideline to score the try that put High Country on top for the first time all afternoon.
“We won because we survived two sin bins without giving up any points and because K Stew is really fast,” said Albright. “We showed a ton of heart and came away with one of the best wins in recent memory.”
Eight man and forwards captain TJ Rhine could only describe Stewart’s run as “heart stopping.”
After breaking free from a second man, half of High Country’s sidelines went running down the pitch with Stewart.
“It was definitely one of the best performances I’ve ever seen [Stewart] have on the rugby field,” Rhine added.
For his part, Stewart says as soon as he got the ball it was over for Macon.
“There’s no question, if I have two guys to beat I feel like I’m gonna score every time,” he said. “If it’s three or more, I feel I’m still gonna get a pretty good distance…Initially I got the ball and I saw one person, that was their outside center. I wasn’t even looking at him because I already knew I was gonna get by him. I was just looking downfield to see what I was gonna do next.”
What he did next was score and he was mauled in the try zone by half of his team and a number of excited spectators.
“One or two people to beat,” said Stewart, his swag fully turned on, “I’m not worried about that at all.”
The try put High Country up 22-21, the score that would be the game’s final.
“I have seen little bits of brilliance from this group,” said Jaffe “Sometimes it shows up in 3-5 minute spurts, maybe 10. On Saturday, they were the best rugby team in the south for 15 minutes, and I mean any division.”
The win propelled High Country into a showdown with Valdosta State, a team that beat them earlier in the season by a hefty margin, for the championship.
The team celebrated their win at their home bar where an upper-level member of the staff may or may not have dipped his testicles in Bacardi 151 and lit them on fire.
That event got the team’s heads in the right place.
“I just hope everybody forgets about Saturday, starting tomorrow, and focuses on next week,” said Stewart, who was named High Country’s Man of the Match, but embarrassingly lost the drink-off at the bar. “I’m just proud of the way everyone stuck together, from the people that was on the field to everyone on the sideline. There was never a moment where we felt like we were too far out the game.”
Tonight, and until further notice, we will be practicing at Coan Park located at 1530 Woodbine Avenue Southeast, Atlanta, Georgia 30317 (the field is located across the street from the former Coan Middle School on Hosea Williams Blvd.). It’s only a mile off Moreland, close to the Brewhouse. Be there 645. Lot of work to do gentlemen. Critical practice.
GEORGIA TECH VS. HIGH COUNTRY RUGBY
First Game is this Saturday 1/19 2:30
Walker Park, 200 Memorial Terrace Southeast Atlanta, Georgia 30316
All players be there at 12:00 to build the field. Friday we’ll be putting together the posts, contact Fudger if you’d like to help out.