UVA Opens Season Against Charlottesville Men and UVA Alumni

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September 20, 2008

UVA vs Charlottesville Men's Club W 7-0

After being hampered weather cancellations, UVA's season finally has begun. Kicking off the competition against Charlottesville Mens Team in a Thursday night scrimmage, the team was happy to brush off the cobwebs and get into real games. Despite poor lighting and slick conditions, Virginia showed that the work in practice was paying off.

In a game where it was clear that hard defense would prove vital, UVA stepped up to the task. Tackling was strong, and UVA refused to let a barrage of crash balls break their line.

Even though footing was unsteady and with light falling fast, the Virginia backline looked crisp. The back three each had striking runs that cut through the Men's defense, but were let down with final passes not connecting.

With the scrimmage drawing to a close both sides searched for someone to break the deadlock. UVA found it as the forwards gave the backs clean ball, and UVA center Francis Baint hit the line hard - breaking through to touch down for the games only score.

Although this was only a short scrimmage and the score was low, there were lots of positives that showed. UVA's defense was extremely strong and tackling was efficient. The backline was connecting well, and the forwards worked together throughout the game. UVA will face the alumni at home on Saturday.

UVA vs UVA Alumni W 24-19

With the UVA Rugby Alumni Foundation taking steps to help the club as we compete in the MARFU Premiership, UVA invited the Old Boys back to Charlottesville for a weekend to share rugby stories and play some ‘friendly' competition. After a night at the Biltmore Bar and Grill, UVA and UVA alumni faced off in incredible heat in front of home fans at Mad Bowl. UVA knew it was going to be a tough game, as the Alumni squad looked like a list of past all-stars.

As the game kicked off it immediately became apparent that despite being former teammates - no one was prepared to back down.

The experience that the Alumni players brought to the game immediately showed, as UVA was put under pressure from the kickoff. However, the UVA defense again showed that it is capable of absorbing attack, and managed to work the ball up-field for an opportunity for points. Unfortunately the kick was pushed wide, and the scoreboard remained empty for both sides.

After a series of back and forth attacks, the Alumni managed to spin the ball wide. But an opportunity to score was just saved as Winger Patrick Ketchersid and Full-Back Chris Colliton pushed the Alumni winger out of bounds. The Alumni kept up the pressure in the UVA 22, but UVA showed its speed on the outside as Winger Jon Roberts and Full-Back Chris Colliton broke through the Alumni defense; Colliton touched the ball down for the opening try between the posts.

The Alumni jumped right back at UVA, with a quick kickoff and quick lineout to try and change the pace of the game. A crash ball brought the Alumni to the UVA five yard line, but aggressive rucking from Virginia forwards turned the ball over. This released Ketchersid on the right side and he left the Alumni players chasing him as he sprinted the length of the field for the try.

The Alumni responded strongly, and after another period of interchanging play broken up by knockons and penalties they broke the UVA line. The Alumni centers connected to cut through the defense and score under the posts. This was followed by another try as the Alumni forwards repeatedly crashed it into the defense, finally pushing over the tryline for the score.

With the half drawing to a close, UVA had a lineout on the Alumni five yard line. Keeping the ball tight to the forwards, Virginia Flanker Colin O'Brien dove under Alumni tacklers to put UVA ahead going into half time.

This did not deter the Alumni, as they opened the second half with renewed intensity. Capitalizing off a UVA knock-on, the Alumni spun the ball wide, and recent UVA graduate Ben Ball broke through the Virginia defense to score his first try of the game.

Following that, both sides play seemed to be affected by the heat. Each side saw its share of knock-ons as attacking moves fell to missed opportunities. Possession changed hands frequently as the middle of the field saw the most action, with both sides delivering bruising hits to stop each others efforts. The UVA backline saw some promising signs as it managed to link up for some large gains, and the forwards rucked strong presenting clean ball. However, it seemed to be that final pass that was lacking for both sides as the score remained the same as the game drew to a close.

But with one final effort, UVA was able to deliver when it mattered. UVA forwards cleaned out a ruck on the right side of the field, and immediately the backs moved into attack. Center-turned-Fly-Half Jeremy Prud'Homme ducked through a small hole in the Alumni defense, offloading to Center Frankie Balint who hit the line at pace breaking through a couple of arm tackles. He sprinted under the posts and touched the ball down for the UVA lead and win.

Following this game the UVA 2nd's stepped onto the field to take the game to more of the Alumni and some of the 3rd's who filled in holes in the Alumni 2nd's team. The game was again played at a high level of rugby and an intensity that showed that the future of the club is secure with some of the younger players' eagerness to learn and develop. Special notice should be made to the excellent spin move that was pulled off by Coach Neil Livett, who stepped in for a second half at scrum-half to show the team his skills.

Overall, both of the games were a great success for everyone involved. The heat was certainly exhausting, but UVA looked very strong, especially in defense. There are lot of things that the team know need to be worked on, but that will be something that can be addressed in the coming weeks of practice. UVA play again next week at home against Maryland in the first MARFU premiership game of the season.

The club would like to thank all of the Alumni who took the time to come down either for the whole weekend or just for the game. Both the game and the events surrounding it were a great success and the club appreciates your support as we move forward in this and future seasons.

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