Embracing biting southerlies and the receding remnants of Wellington’s worst storm in decades, Dr McWaine and I spent last Saturday afternoon at the Hutt recreation grounds near our Residence enjoying the last game of USA Rugby Men’s Collegiate All-Americans’ tour of New Zealand. It was a hard-fought, highly entertaining match. Rather than risk misreporting plays myself, I reprint below a short article about the game posted by our friends at Rugby Redefined.

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New Zealand Universities vs. AIG Men’s Collegiate All-American

Wellington, New Zealand — The USA Rugby AIG Men’s Collegiate All-Americans finished their New Zealand Tour with a dominant 34-11 win Saturday against New Zealand Universities, who narrowly won the first meeting between the two teams last Sunday 17-10.

“This was definitely our best performance of the tour and deserving of the victory,” Head Coach Matt Sherman said. “It was pleasing to see the team make significant improvements in the areas we set out to, particularly as it related to playing in the poor conditions.

“Our set pieces improved dramatically, we made better decisions with the ball in hand and were able to retain possession while also speeding up our ruck ball. Defensively, we were organized, committed and very physical.”

New Zealand Universities got on the board first with a penalty kick in the 15th minute, capitalizing on some early ill-disciplined defense by the MCAAs. Patrick Sullivan put the MCAAs in the lead in the 17th minute with a try, and captain Ryan Roundy and Kyle Sumison pressured the home side to give Joseph Cowley a chance to increase the lead with a penalty kick, which he converted.

A Collegiate All-Amercan rugby player breaks away.

Breaking away.

A strong MCAA scrum in the dying seconds of the first half resulted in Roundy adding another try, with Cowley converting for a 15-3 halftime lead.

The MCAAs did not let up, as Daniel Barrett scored a try of his own in the 46th minute after sustained pressure inside the 10. Cowley converted again for the 22-3 lead. New Zealand Universities kicked another penalty in the 51st minute, but John Cullen broke a few tackles on a counterattack to dot down in the in-goal to put the MCAAs up 29-6.

Paris Hollis’ try in the 65th minute negated New Zealand Universities’ 75th minute try, and the MCAAs celebrated their first win of the tour.

Try time.

Try time.

“We learned from the first two games that a good performance wasn’t going to be enough to win down here,” Sherman said. “We had to dominate in most categories, minimize mistakes and capitalize on opportunities, and be fully committed in both effort and focus. I think we got that today throughout the entire team.

“In particular, I thought our forwards played very well and physical. Kyle Sumison, the man of the match, was a monster around the field for the second game in a row. The back row of Daniel Barrett and Ryan Roundy had a lot of impactful moments, second rowers John Cullen and Mike Lawrenson had a lot of strong carries and were physical in the rucks and tackles all game, and the front row had moments around the field and the at the edge of the scrum.”

RugbyRedefined were there today to bring full coverage in very trying conditions for both teams , and the forward dominance by the young Americans showed that they had learned from the past 2 matches.

A NZ Universities player secures the ball in a line out.

Line out.

After the game we managed a quick word with Ryan Roundy the Captain of the USA Team and he had some gracious words to the Fans of Collegiate Rugby and also a very quick review of their tour of New Zealand.

- RR

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Playing for the All-Americans were Paris Hollis, Michael Shepherd, Angus MacLellan, Michael Lawrenson, John Cullen, Daniel Barrett, Kyle Sumison, captain Ryan Roundy, Jacob McFadden, Patrick Sullivan, Jake Anderson, Michael Haley, J.P. Eloff, Madison Hughes, and Joseph Cowley, with reserves Glen Maricelli, Eric Parsons, Shaun Potgeiter, Jordan Badia-Bellinger, Randy Pati, Stephen Tomasin, and Josh Tucker. Unfortunately, I haven’t yet received a list of the NZ Universities players.

The U.S. team at the after match function.

With the All-Americans at the after-party.

After the match we invited the two teams, their coaches, and several intrepid supporters over to our Residence for sausage rolls, meat pies, chips & salsa, and close to two dozen cases of beer. (Just another Saturday evening at Camperdown.) Cold rain thundered intermittently outside, but spirits inside were high and warm as the the players mingled, laughed, systematically depleted our strategic beer reserves, and occasionally burst into song.

As I’ve said before and will say again, in terms of building relationships and fostering understanding these kinds of exchanges and tours are worth their weight in gold. I very much look forward to a return visit by the All-Americans sometime soon.