Yesterday, the Sevens side went across town to play powerhouse UCLA in a friendly scrimmage. The friendly nature of the game allowed for several seven minute halves and rolling subs to get the entire team’s feet wet, but both sides understood the benefit for early season competition. UCLA, going into next weekend’s West Coast Sevens tournament ranked 2nd overall, came to the scrimmage better prepared and flying out of the gates.
The talent and ability of the UCLA side quickly proved to our Sevens boys that a great amount of work is still to be done to achieve a competitive status amongst the best in the West. Although a high performing side, UCLA’s abilities should not have prevented USC from performing basic Sevens strategy, as was the case on Sunday. On the front foot, USC was unable to move the ball faster than the aggressive UCLA defense and was consistently held behind the gain line. Quicker movement of the ball and a greater exploitation of space is key to any Sevens team’s success. Defensively, the failure to communicate and spread the field proved detrimental on several occasions. Basic switch plays and overlaps executed almost flawlessly lead USC to more problems. Glimmers of hope were seen when the offensive structure of the team resembled what had been practiced in training the week prior; the basis of the team’s game showed signs of coming together. But once broken down the team reverted to its haphazard tendencies of previous years.
Coach Bryan Randles was optimistic following the encounter with UCLA, “The match was a good barometer of where our 7’s team ranks skill-wise. Playing against a top-notch team clearly showed us where our deficiencies lie and where we need to put in a little more work. Overall, it was a very productive day of rugby where the boys gained some valuable 7’s game experience.”
The sevens team must now expand on what went well against UCLA and extinguish their shortcomings if they hope to catch the attention of any of the eleven other sides competing at the West Coast Sevens next weekend.
Join us at Cal Poly SLO this weekend for the West Coast Sevens tournament and cheer on our boys trying to make a statement.
Games will be broadcasted on USA RUGBY:
[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]#USCRugbySevens took to a friendly against @uclarugby. The team is now ready to hit the ground running at next weekends West Coast Sevens. #crosstownrivals #justafriendlydoe
[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]Good work today by the 7’s boys. We played UCLA in 1 full time match and then a bunch of 7 minute periods. The score of the first game was 5 tries to 2 but at one point was tied at 2. Everyone got playing time and we improved with each game.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]
USC Rugby traveled to Scottsdale, Arizona to play in the 2nd Annual Rugby Bowl hosted by ASU Rugby. USC Rugby played Grand Canyon University in the curtain raiser for the final match of the day. The field was on the San Francisco Giants Spring Training grounds – and it was a beautiful sight!
The USC Rugby team prepared well during the week, and had an uneventful road trip to Scottsdale, and looked forward to the competition. Opening kickoff of the game, it was clear the heat, and some lingering injuries could not be ignored, and after a few (too many) missed tackles, USC Rugby was already down 14 points and looking to push the action to get back into the game. Unfortunately another USC turnover and a quick GCU counter-attack pushed the score out again.
USC Forward’s Colten Elkin and Cameron Streeter worked tirelessly throughout the match, and even with a brand new front row (due to injuries and illness), the scrum never gave up and continued giving their all. Special recognition to Luis Lopez, playing with a torn shoulder muscle, and Richie Podkowski coming off the bench after only 15 minutes to play hooker and prop in the match, and he also made a bunch of tackles.
Vice-Captain Haico Kaashoek kicked USC’s first points from a penalty, and Captain Joey Krassenstein dotted down a try after an effortless kick-charge and perfect patience to wait for the ball to bounce up into his hands for the opening USC try.
After the halftime break, USC continued to pressure and create interesting opportunities for scores but the Grand Canyon Rugby goal line defense prevented any more scoring in the match. Clever kicking into the corner by Guido Scassellati pushed Grand Canyon back into their own defensive zone, and good breaks by Robert Semu and rookie sensation Mitch Suzuki continued to push for another score. Adam Bushell guided the backline and made several breaks, but the continuity couldn’t convert line breaks into points. USC Rugby improved throughout the match and has learned from this experience.
The USC bench was cleared and everyone played and performed well. Man of the Match for USC Rugby was Colten Elkin with his tireless work ethic and his positive attitude and ability to always be around the ball, and special mention for Duncan Chalfant for his outstanding tackling, and he also played periods of the match at Hooker and Prop.
USC Rugby also left a good impression in the Scottsdale Old-town district as well. This team traveled well, played hard, and enjoyed themselves in good spirits and positive intentions. The other guests at the team hotel loved having a rugby team to hang with. Fight on!
GCU defeated USC 59-8 in The Rugby Bowl.
Photos courtesy of photographer Spencer Campbell.
|Last Name||Position||Favorite Athlete||Stunk on an island with the music …|
|Pierre||Badin||Fly-Half||Johnny Wilkinson||Bob Marley – Redemption song|
|Samuel||Bowers||Hooker||Kiira Korpi||Message In A Bottle – The Police|
|Adam||Bushell||Fly-Half||David Beckham||Fix You- Coldplay|
|Duncan||Chalfant||Prop||Colin Kaepernick||Game of Thrones Theme Song|
|Chadd||Dunn||Prop||Teemu Selanne||Shut up and Dance by Walk The Moon|
|Colten||Elkin||Flanker||Steve Prefontaine||Rhapsody in Blue|
|Austin||Giles||Center||Paul Bissonnette (Biz Nasty)||Fancy- iggy azalea|
|Alec||Hively||Flanker||Lebron James||Ain’t No Mountain High Enough- Marvin Gaye|
|Haico||Kaashoek||Fullback / Vice Captain||Conrad Smith||“Wandering Eye” – Fat Freddy’s Drop|
|Joseph||Krassenstein||Center / Captain||Sonny Bill Williams or Julian Savea||Jammin’ by Bob Marley|
|Taiu||Kunimoto||Wing||Ian Thorpe||“I will survive” — Gloria Gaynor|
|Luis||Lopez||Prop||J J. Watt||Moshpit- Flosstradamus|
|Kwabz||Osei-Larbi||Wing||Russell Westbrook||Sanko by Timaya|
|Richie||Podkowski||Hooker||Rob Gronkowski||Like a Cowboy- Randy Houser|
|Guido||Scassellati||Scrum-Half||Conor Murray- Munster & Ireland||Bloody Sunday-U2|
|Robert||Semu||Wing||Derrick Rose||California Gurls – Katy Perry ft. Snoop Dogg|
|Dylan||Sidoo||Lock||Pavel Bure||Summer Madness (Kool & The Gang)|
|Jonathan||So||Lock||Henrik and Daniel Sedin||Call Me Maybe|
|Gordon||Stewart||Scrum-Half||Nick Diaz (MMA)||Anna Karina by Blue Scholars|
|Cameron||Streeter||No 8||John Martinez (Portland Thunder)||“What I Got” by Sublime|
|Michael||Suzuki||Wing||Alex Morgan or Bryce Harper||I Knew You Were Trouble – Taylor Swift|
|Jonathan||Wolverton||Lock||Sonny Bill Williams||Careless Whisper|
|Alvin||Wong||Wing||Wrestler Dan gable||Cross road blues by Robert Johnson|
|Omar||Zeitoun||Flanker||Muhammad Ali||Island by Pendulum|
Another perfect Southern California rugby day for the USC Rugby Alumni match held on the USC campus. With Coach Dave Lytle’s retirement banquet that evening, the Alumni team had extra players ready for subbing. This was going to be a long match for the USC Rugby team.
From the opening kick-off, both teams were eager to move the ball and push through the defensive line. The opening score was Joey Krassenstein picking off an Alumni backline pass to zip away for the try. This woke up the Alumni, and didn’t take long for the Alumni to find a gap and push through – and not surprisingly current Forwards Coach Austin Reed did the most damage – with his knowledge of the current team, he picked his targets wisely.
The tries kept coming for the Alumni who seemed to find more energy as the game progressed. Even with USA Eagle Adam Siddall playing fly-half for the students, couldn’t find a way through the stingy Alumni defense. It wasn’t long until Adam, also a USC Law graduate student, switched jerseys and messed up the Alumni attack.
Super speedster winger, Dave Lytle, finally got his hands on the ball and dodged a tackle and carried another tackler with him over the try line to score.
Man of the Match was Dave Lytle. Scoring a try at age 78 is pretty awesome. Thanks to everyone for coming out and making the game a huge success. Fight on!
The final match of the regular season for USC Rugby against the table topping Cal State Long Beach Rugby team. It was a very warm March afternoon for the kickoff.
Right from the kickoff, CSULB put pressure on USC and pushed up against the try line, holding USC inside their own defensive area. After holding back wave and wave of attacks, CSULB finally punched through to score the opening points. A second try from Long Beach shortly after woke USC up and with some better passing and stronger forward work, USC started moving the ball down the field against the strong CSULB defense.
A slightly different strategy from USC Rugby in this match as USC kept pushing the ball back into CSULB’s territory with deep kicks from captains Joey Krassenstein and Haico Kaashoek. Rookie wingers Alvin Wong and Mitch Suzuki played the kicking strategy perfectly running back kicks into attacking territory.
Two major factors preventing a closer match – the USC forward pack were hurting for trained front rowers due to injuries, and the tackling was lacking any bite and too many CSULB ball runners found their way into the USC backfield, often without any contact from the first line of defense.
Later in the game, USC Rugby put together many phases of excellent rugby, and moved the ball across the field looking for breakthrough opportunities. At one point, it was clear the left wing was open and with quick hands and a two long passes, Mitch Suzuki broke through the final defenders tackle to score his first USC try in the corner.
Once again, the score line does not give the best reflection on this match. With only minutes remaining in the first half, and minutes remaining the second half, USC let through four tries that ballooned the scoreline out of reach for a comeback. Closing out playing periods and holding back attacks until the whistle will need to be a focus for the USC defense.
The Man of the Match for USC Rugby was hard charging Cameron Streeter. His forward pack was undersized and yet he organized the scrum to compete throughout the match. Cameron never stopped tackling and prevented many line breaks with his text book tackles.
In a tight match, USC and Fullerton played 80 minutes of exciting, enterprising rugby, and only the full time whistle ended what could have been won by either team. Fullerton won the match with a converted try at the full time 31-29.
This Saturday USC Trojan Rugby hosted UC Irvine at USC’s McAllister Field on a hot and sunny Saturday afternoon. The game was USC’s first appearance playing at home so far this season. In front of a crowd of fans, friends, and family the Trojans started the game with dominating speed and possession.
In the first minute of the Trojan’s offensive play, Joseph Krassenstein broke through the Irvine backline for a half field run before finding Austin Giles for a quick pop that was soon offloaded to Adam Bushell for the opening try of the game.
Then Haico Kaashoek’s kicking boot took over with the conversion and two penalty kicks that followed. With the score at 13-0, Haico Kaashoek soon got the ball on the wing and was able to find a gap in the defense. After shimmy shaking through two defenders, Haico made it all the way to in front of the try-line before getting tackled. He was able to reach out to put the ball down for the second try of the game.
A similar try came minutes later when freshman speedster Justin Sheppard was able to find space in the midfield and outrun the defending full back. Only a few minutes later, Alvin Wong another standout freshman, was able to put another 5 on the board after smooth transition through the backline to find space on the wing. After a following conversion slotted by Kaashoek, the standing score was 34-0 at the 23 minute mark.
USC soon let the lead go to their heads and began with sloppy defense. After a couple passages of poor tackles and defensive rucking, UC Irvine was able to score their first try. Their powerful forward pack followed up with two more tries on the board. All were unconverted. Score was 34-15 at the 35 minute mark.
Soon after, Krassenstein got a long slanting pass from fly half Adam Bushell that allowed him to blast through the hole in the defense. Approaching the try line, Krassenstein was hit hard by Irvine’s rushing full back but was still able to put the ball down for a score. Half time score was 39-15.
UCI continued with another try in the opening play of the second half. Soon after on a sloppy backs play by UCI, Krassenstein was able to scoop up a missed pass and run it in for his second of the day. He converted his own try with an easy drop kick through. A minute later USC was able to retain possession off the kick off. Adam Bushell got a clean ball from a scrum in UC Irvine’s territory, dummy passed, and then slithered through the defensive line for his second try of the game. The score at 47 minutes was 53-20.
USC soon took over with tries coming from outside center Austin Giles and forward captain Cameron Streeter. Both were of their first tries of the season. UCI answered back with a try of their own at the 60 minute mark. It wasn’t long before USC opened the floodgates again with another try coming from rookie prop Luis Lopez who blasted his way through the tackles to score underneath the posts.
Soon after, second row Jonny Wolverton also scored his first USC try with a cheeky run down the left wing. UCI answered with one more try but it was too late, the lead was too far away. Final score 81-32.
Man of the Match was Haico Kaashoek. Special mention to front row sensation Luis Lopez who scored his rookie try.
In the shortened B-side game USC faced Whittier College. USC was looking at a team mostly made up of Whittier’s football team, most of who were new to rugby. USC was able to produce several passages of beautiful rugby.
After testing out their defense, a memorable chip kick from Gordon Stewart was chased down by winger Kwabana Osei-Larbi, who snatched the ball on a favorable rebound and opened the score with a beautiful try, converted by Gordon Steward. Steward later added three points to the scoreboard after Whittier was penalized for handling the ball in a ruck.
Towards the end of the first half, center Alistair Skeoch scored USC’s second try after his opposite number attempted an interception and subsequently left a wide gap in the defense. Whittier came back from the break more determined than ever. Making full use of their superior sizes and capitalizing on a few less than perfect tackles, they broke through on the wing and scored twice, reducing USC’s lead to 15-10.
Some time later, fly half Pierre Badin was able to snake his way through for a try of his own. Standout plays also came from freshman Sean Stanbridge at scrumhalf and Alistair Skeoch at center. USC was able to win with incredible defensive tackling (against a much beefier team) and with having a strong grasp game knowledge. Excellent leadership by Nicholas Ludwig, Pierre Badin, Alistair Skeoch and Gordon Stewart in the second game. USC won after 3 tries, 1 conversion, and two penalties at 23-10.
USC Men’s Rugby aspires to be one of the premier collegiate rugby programs in the nation. We’re building a strong, high scoring, professional style PAC team, and we invite motivated incoming and current USC students to join us.