The UC San Diego Men’s Rugby team drove up north to take on some top tier Division I NorCal opposition at the annual UCSC Rugby Tournament. The only SoCal representatives, the Tritons played well in their three games on Sunday and got meaningful playing time in for those who made the long road trip.
The Tritons opened up the day with a game against the UCSC Slugs, the tournament’s hosts. With a few players out of position and a good mix of new guys mixed in with veterans, the Tritons held their own against a DI powerhouse. Despite suffering in set pieces and being deprived of good attacking opportunities, UCSD fared well and mounted a terrific goal line defense early in the first half. Some of the issues were corrected in the second half, and even though they did not score a try, the Tritons matched the Slugs’ intensity in the last 20 minutes and held UCSC to three tries on the day.
After a long layoff in between the first and second games, UCSD was back in action against Santa Clara. After working on their rucking in between the two games, the Tritons came out aggressively and improved their ball retaining skills. With cleaner balls, the Tritons launched some good offensives against another good team and put pressure on the opposing defense. UCSD was held in check by Santa Clara, but their improvements held some promise for their last game.
Against arguably their toughest opponents of the day, Humboldt State, a diminished Tritons team showed heart and spirit, making the Lumberjacks work for every points they could get. The tired Tritons were no match for Humboldt’s speed, but UCSD put up great efforts to prevent the Lumberjacks from scoring tries, stuffing them before the goal line a couple of times. The thin Triton squad received help from a few UCSC players, in a display of tremendous sportsmanship and a true showing of rugby spirit.
The Tritons of the day were Wilf Dunne for the forwards, rewarded for his leadership on the defensive side and his continuous rucking and tackling. On the back line, Sean Martinez was recognized. The rookie held his own against some tough competition and played the whole three games for the Tritons, getting meaningful playing time and experience on the wing.
UCSD is back at it this week, hosting the University of Sidney for a joint practice on Monday and a game on Wednesday night at Warren Field at 7pm, before going to downtown San Diego to play Point Loma University on Saturday. We hope to see a rally of support at our home match against Sydney.