USC Rugby traveled North along the Santa Barbara coastline to play the Santa Barbara City College Rugby Club. The beautiful Elings Park hosted the match.

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Jack Haley

The opening minutes of the match showcased enterprising rugby from both teams. USC controlled their ball possession well, and worked with good field position and territory gains. The overall defense was sound and the few times Santa Barbara broke the USC defensive line, the USC sweeper would quickly make the tackle to clean up the attack. A standout moment in the first half, Santa Barbara player dove for the try line to score, and USC Forward Jack Haley caught the player and the ball while in the air, and tackled the player backwards another 5 meters, got up and turned over the ball for a USC clearing kick into touch. Great defense Jack!

After 20 minutes of scoreless rugby, USC over committed to a ruck, and Santa Barbara cleared the ball out to their winger with an easy man overlap to run in a quick counter-attack try. The support required to hold a ruck, and the USC defense working against a big Santa Barbara backline, found themselves forced to make tackle decisions where USC were outnumbered. Sometimes a correct decision was made and USC stopped another wing attack, but two more first half Santa Barbara tries put them in a comfortable position going into the half.

Colten Elkin

Colten Elkin

USC started the second half with good momentum and possession again. Throughout the match, the USC line-out was perfect on their own throws, and competed to win 50% of the opposition line-outs. Excellent work by USC jumpers Jonny Wolverton, and today’s USC Rugby Man of the Match Colten Elkin.

USC worked hard in the second half and only gave up another two Santa Barbara tries, and USC vice-captain Haico Kaashoek scored a try in the final moments of the match to put USC on the scoreboard. Final score Santa Barbara City College 45 – USC 5.

Austin Giles taking on the backline

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Gordon Stewart

USC scrum half Gordon Stewart played well and cleared the ball from rucks and make good sweeper tackles. USC prop Luis Lopez also had many storming ball carries and tackled anyone within his sight.

Video Highlights:

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1st XV Match Photos:

Score:

2nd XV Photos:

Round two of the Gold Coast Rugby Conference placed USC against visiting USD, with the teams facing off at a rugby pitch in Santa Monica.

DSC_0606At the opening whistle, though USD came out of the gates quickly and efficiently, USC countered with equal pressure and started moving the USD defense backwards. However, throughout the first half, USC ball handling and control at the ruck lacked focus, and players started turning the possession over to USD. With USC mistakes at the ruck, dropped passes, kicking away possession, and missed tackles opened up easy USD pathways to start the scoring. USD quickly put 26 points on the board without any USC interruptions.

USC started to build good phases of continuity in the first half and put pressure on the USD tryline, but with ball handling mistakes and some poor decision making, USC wasn’t able to cross the line to score.

Robert Semu

Robert Semu

After the break, and with a few tactical and injury replacements, USC fired up for the second half and improved their team play. This time, the pressure USC built moving down the field was converted into points with a nice gliding try by USC Rugby outside center Nick Ludwig scoring in the corner. After finally breaking the tryline, USC re-energized with more open and forward moving play. It wasn’t long until USC rookie Alvin Wong scored his first USC try by busting down the left wing. USC vice captain Haico Kaashoek kicked a nice conversion from out wide and into the breeze to bring the score board closer.

All the momentum shifted to USC in the second half, and now it was a race against the clock to get back into the game. USC kept attacking the USD defense but just couldn’t find another way through, until Robert Semu burst through a gap and sprinted 70 meters for the final score of the match. But it was not enough to catch USD. Final score USC 19 – USD 33.

It was a tough loss for USC Rugby, knowing this was a match that could have been won with better decision making and better handling.

Alvin Wong

Alvin Wong

Standout performance from Alvin Wong earned him the Man of the Match. Not only did Alvin score his first try for USC Rugby, his position play on the left wing was excellent, and he stopped some charging USD players without giving up an inch of territory – he tackled like a brick wall.

Congratulations also to Nick Banks for another strong performance in the scrum and ball running. Nick always moves forward with determination and force and puts a lot of pressure on the defense to make good tackles.

USC 19 (Nick Ludwig try, Alvin Wong try, Robert Semu try, Haico Kaashoek 2 con)
USD 33 (Team 5 tries, 4 con)

Match Highlights

Photos from the match

Score

2nd XV Photos

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USC Rugby captain Joey Krassenstein

USC Rugby started their regular season with an away match in San Diego against UCSD on Saturday. From the moment the USC Rugby Cardinal and Gold Touring Coach pulled up to Warren Field and 46 eager players hopped off, it was clear that this season’s USC Rugby team is focused and committed to its goals.

In the opening 20 minutes both teams played physical rugby and both teams tackled well to stop the attackers. Then rookie left winger, speedster Justin Shepard, created space in the center of the field and darted 40 meters to open the scoring. Justin continues to play with authority at this level.

USCD defense managed to hold back USC until captain Joey Krassenstein slotted a drop goal from just outside the 22 meter line, pushing the score to 10 and delivering on a promise to retiring Head Coach Dave Lytle to kick a drop goal in his honor. (The other coaches, though they understood the gesture, were not pleased to see such freewheeling play so early in the match). Joey more than made up for scaring the coaches when he scored USC Rugby’s second try just before half time.

Forward Nick Banks

Forward Nick Banks

USC Rugby’s set-plays from the line-out and free kick/penalty mark, through improving, still showed signs of greenhorns who had not seen opposition recently. But USC Rugby still gained territory against every UCSD mistake with captain Joey Krassenstein using his world-class kicking boot. Any mistake by UCSD pushed them backwards over 40 meters on average.

At the 55 minute mark, the USC Rugby back-line figured out the combination of UCSD’s defense and starting running in more tries. USC Rugby vice-captain Haico Kaashoek – try. Justin Shepard – another try. Joey Krassenstein – another try. Along with a some long range conversions by Haico Kaashoek, and the score board ticked up and up.

Final score: USC Trojans 36, UCSD 12. Way to go, team!

USC Rugby vice-captain Haico Kaashoek

USC Rugby vice-captain Haico Kaashoek

Congratulations to Haico Kaashoek, named USC Man of the Match for his work in the back-line, tackling, and kicking conversions. Special shout out to forward leader Nick Banks for his hard work in the front-row (making solid tackles in the 75th minute, that’s Banks Strong).

USC Rugby is still learning the defensive structure that can hold out teams for 80 minutes, but they have heart, dedication, and a combination of Krassenstein and Kaashoek that will create and excite USC Rugby fans this season.

USC Rugby (Haico Kaashoek 1 try, 4 con; Justin Shepard 2 tries; Joseph Krassenstein 2 tries, 1 drop-goal)
UCSD Rugby (2 tries, 1 con)

Score

logo-uclaUSC Rugby played their final pre-season match against Pac 12 rival UCLA at the Westwood campus. The 2nd XV players started the day with the curtain raiser match, and the 1st XV followed.

The first game was a spirited match with plenty of action from both sides. Simple USC handling mistakes and the familiar missed tackles allowed UCLA to run in three first-half tries and a conversion. Even though the score was starting to get away from USC, the team played good physical rugby and produced some entertaining moments. USC inside-center Christopher Li played an excellent match, as did forwards Anthony Jusuf and Jack Haley, showcasing USC’s improvement. UCLA scored two more tries in the second half, but USC improved their play, keeping UCLA’s scoring to a minimum.

The 1st XV match was always going to be a tough challenge for USC, as UCLA plays in a division higher than USC. But even so, USC’s hands let them down. The few times USC did gain possession of the ball, they quickly turned it over to UCLA, who marched down the field to score. This happened several times early in the first half before USC started holding back the UCLA attacks. Near the end of the first half, USC finally managed some quality possession and put pressure on the UCLA try line, but was unable to score before the half-time whistle. A penalty kick from Haico Kaashoek did put USC on the scoreboard in the first half.

USC played much better in the second half, gaining more territory with the ball in hand and making more tackles to stop UCLA attacks. And Robert Semu scored what was to be USC’s only try of the game. Still, UCLA was able to capitalize on plenty of USC errors to run in four more second-half tries. As USC improves our ball handling and tackling, we’ll be able to keep that score much closer.

Outstanding players for USC were Aaron Soskin, Adam Bushell, and Man Of The Match Big John Martinez.

USC ended their 2014-2015 pre-season with a 4-2 record. We’ll work hard to improve and be ready for the kick-off the regular season. Fight on!

claremont-colleges-logoThe USC Rugby team traveled East to visit the Claremont Colleges on a perfect November rugby day in Southern California. Both teams agreed to allow unlimited substitutions and to play safe rugby. The spectators were treated to an entertaining and well played match.

The game started with USC gaining possession and working quickly and efficiently as a team. USC drove the ball into the Claremont end of the pitch, applying consistent pressure with attacking back line runs and probing forwards’ drives. After the opening 15 minutes of play, USC had run in three tries. Rookie Andreo Coury scored a try as a starter on the wing, along with gliding tries by fly-half Adam Bushell and captain Joey Krassenstein. The USC forwards standouts included Sam Bowers and Jonny Wolverton, who were both tireless and productive with every opportunity on the pitch.

Many players were rotated into different positions, and near the end of the first half, the oval rugby ball started bouncing against USC. Several darting line-breaks by the well drilled Claremont team got through the USC defense, and the score got much closer. USC continued with another try for Joey Krassentein, and rookie Justin Sheppard ran a fast winger try into the corner.

The second half started with both teams rotating many 1st XV players back into the match. With both teams making positive adjustments to their strategy, lineup and energy, the score remained locked. It wasn’t until the final 10 minutes of play when USC gained some needed possession and passed along the back line to rookie Kwabz Osei-Larbi, who scored in the corner. Moments later, the other USC wing, rookie Justin Sheppard, attacked with equal force and scored the door-closer with only minutes remaining in the match. USC continued to defend and tackled out the time to win, 35-25.

Both teams provided a good day of rugby and an entertaining match. Congratulations to the USC Man of the Match Justin Sheppard with two wing tries. Special mention to USC co-captain Haico Kaashoek for his attacking runs and great passing.

Tries:
Joey Kranssenstein 2
Justin Sheppard 2
Adam Bushell 1
Andreo Coury 1
Kwabz Osei-Larbi 1

csulb-logoThe USC Rugby Team traveled to Cal State Long Beach for another pre-season match against a regular season opponent. It was another great opportunity for more team members to get some playing time, and address issues needed to resolve before the regular season kickoff.

The USC 1st XV started the game with positive decision making and good energy. Right from the opening kickoff, USC secured the ball and moved through phases to build territorial gains. Strong kicking by team captain Joey Krassenstein kept USC gaining ground every time CSULB committed a penalty. USC Forward Travis Fox gave another standout performance, continuing his excellent pre-season play. Additional team standouts were P.J. Schaul and forwards captain Cameron Streeter. The individual tackling and control of the ball throughout the USC team made slight improvements from previous matches, but not enough to prevent CSULB running in some first half tries when USC didn’t wrap up their tackles. The pace of the game was fast, and although USC players are fit, they just couldn’t keep up with the outside running speed of CSULB and allowed a few more second half tries scored on the wing. The final score was 53-3 to CSULB.

The USC 2nd XV played the following match and worked well as a team to showcase their best rugby of the pre-season. Good teamwork from everyone allowed the team to put pressure on CSULB. USC Back Mitch Suzuki scored an excellent try, which was set up by the forwards moving down the field building phases of control. The USC 2nd XV entertained the audience and played great rugby.

Special thank you to our local USC Rugby Team supporters who cheered on the team. Thank you for coming out to the game to support USC Rugby! Fight on!

USC_Pac-12The USC Rugby 7s Squad traveled to Berkeley for the PAC 12 Rugby 7’s Championships held at the beautiful Cal Berkeley field. This is the first year USC has developed a 7’s rugby program, and the newly formed squad’s energy was high. Everyone was ready to compete with the strong PAC 12 Rugby Conference.

The first day of the event did not go as planned for USC. The opening match was early on Saturday morning, and the pitch was still wet with dew. Facing Arizona State (the eventual runners up of the tournament), the USC team struggled to adjust to the wet rugby ball. Their many dropped balls and unforced errors allowed Arizona plenty of possession to score. USC dropped the opening match to ASU.

After the midday break, USC faced northern foes Oregon State in what turned out to be an exciting match with plenty of back-and-forth action. With only minutes remaining, USC was ahead 17-12. Then, in a dramatic final minute of the match, OSU marched down the field with energy, forcing USC to make numerous tackles. After a sustained attack, OSU broke through the USC defensive line and scored with no time remaining, beating USC 19-17. The stunned audience was as shocked as the USC players.

The rest of the opening day did not continue well for USC. A couple of injuries and more unforced errors resulted in the final two matches also being dropped, ending the day winless and at the bottom of the table. There was a lot of soul searching and introspective reflection on the day’s events by everyone on the USC 7s squad.

The second (and final) day of the PAC 12 7s Championships again did not begin well for USC, this time before the team even made it to the pitch. A local Berkeley marathon had shut down many streets in the surrounding neighborhood, and the USC players’ van was stuck in a jam only a mile away. With only minutes until kickoff, the boys finally made it to the field and quickly warmed up to take on the University of Oregon. But the morning’s troubles followed them on to the pitch, and the match was out of USC’s grasp very quickly. Another dropped match.

In their final match, the team worked together to boost moral and get ready to compete against their final opponents, the Stanford Cardinal. It was another wonderful match for spectators, as both USC and Stanford played enterprising rugby and created attack opportunities for many players. Scoring started when USC dotted down in the corner for the opening try. With a narrow lead at half-time, USC pushed the action and scored again to lead 10-0. But Stanford wasn’t giving up and countered with a try of their own, closing the gap. USC pressured, but couldn’t break through the Stanford line, and with only a minute remaining in the match, USC was forced to defend their line over and over, until a Stanford knock-on ended the game. That strong defense saved the win for USC. The large audience applauded both teams for an entertaining match. Well done USC!

Congratulations to USC forward Travis Fox, whose defensive tackling and all-around solid work earned him a nomination as one of the Players of the Tournament.

Highlights of the event can be seen here:

http://www.calbears.com/mediaPortal/player.dbml?id=3527413

Try Scorers:

Joey Krassenstein – 2
Adam Bushnell – 1
Travis Fox – 1
Haico Kaashoek – 1
Nicholas Ludwig – 1
Corbin Bennett- 1

Conversions Kicks:

Joey Krassenstein – 1

USC Rugby Team traveled to Cal State Long Beach to compete in the annual CSULB XV’s Invitational Tournament. This event was a perfect introduction to the game of rugby for our rookies, and a chance to test pre-season training progress for the veterans. Many of the teams at this event will be USC opponents during the spring regular season. (Note: An important factor of this tournament is time – each half is only 15 minutes. With the usual stoppages in rugby play (for scrum issues and general stoppages), the actual game time is very limited. This puts pressure on teams to score early).

USC’s first match was early in the morning, and the team woke up and played good rugby. They won all their own line-outs and won two opposition line-outs to keep the ball clearly on USC’s side. The scrum also performed well, holding up to good pressure even with soft footing due to some morning rain. USC still committed too many penalties in the first half (two ruck infringements, two offside penalties, and three obstruction fouls). Even with the mounting penalties, USC pushed the tempo and finally broke through the defensive line, with captain Joey Krassenstein cruising through for a try under the posts. A conversion by Erwyn Lam and a couple of penalty kicks from Haico Kaashoek, and the win was secure.

The afternoon matches did not go as well. The schedule had a large break between the first and second USC matches, and this did not do the team any favors. Along with a few positional changes and injury replacements, the USC team struggled to get forward momentum, and ultimately struggled to get possession of the rugby ball. The opposition forward pack held onto possession for long stretches of the game, and after USC allowed a soft opposition try, it became a struggle to come back and break through the defensive line. The USC Backs didn’t get much action, and when the USC Forwards got possession of the ball, simple mistakes turned the ball right back over to the stingy opposition.

Due to the tournament structure, USC made it through to the division semi-final, but once again ran into time and possession issues. Early USC penalties pushed the team back into their own half, requiring a lot of tackles by defense. The USC scrum and line-out were not finding their rhythm and were being pushed backwards and losing USC possession. After two opposition tries in the second half, USC had no time to mount a comeback. Out in the semi-finals.

Pre-season rugby allows every team to identify areas to improve, and USC realized their issues right away: possession and time (starting strong and finding their rhythm quickly). The team looks forward to full-length games where their fitness and growing momentum can be utilized to the fullest (and holding onto the ball will be helpful, too).

riverside-logoUSC was welcomed to Riverside with a warm, dry heat, and a slightly narrow field. The USC team started slowly and found themselves defending for the first 10 minutes of the match. This did produce some good goal line defense that prevented Riverside scoring, and eventually USC managed to move out of the shadow of their goal line. But the ball carriers still had some problems with handling and control of the ball. Fumbles, dropped passes and poor transfers between players kept USC on the back foot and continually defending Riverside counter-attacks. Most surprisingly, the half time score was only 3-0 in favor of USC, thanks to team Vice Captain Haico Kaashoek converting a long range penalty kick.

The second half started with new energy. Finally finding some gaps in the Riverside defense, the USC ball runners made 10409363_716852118382909_9164248901554849624_nsome positive forward progress, and the upfield movement allowed for easier passing between the players. USC Captain Joey Krassenstein started the try-scoring with another gliding burst through the middle of the Riverside defensive, weaving between the final two defenders to score under the posts. Shortly after, OJ Haugen made a strong break and scored. Then the backs completed a fast transfer of the ball across the field, opening up the gap out wide, and Haico Kaashoek scored a beautiful try, outrunning the defender down the left wing. Haico later scored another try and kicked a total of two penalties and four conversions, earning him USC Man of the Match. The final score was 34-15.

USC players with big tackles throughout the match included Duncan Chalfant, OJ Haugen, Jack Haley and Dylan Sidoo. Excellent ball running by Nick Ludwig and Rob Semu, and great sidestepping by reserve back Kwabs Osei-Larbi.

The USC 2nd XV played a condensed 10-a-side match due to limited opposition players, but that didn’t stop the Trojans from taking on Riverside and getting excellent match experience. Shortly into the second half, a couple of Riverside jerseys were filled with USC players, and now the USC players were scoring on both sides of the field. Everyone enjoyed the conversion attempt by USC forward Nick Banks – he missed, but was rewarded with another shot at the posts minutes later, which he converted. Excellent ball running by Omar Zeitoun, and reserve back Justin Sheppard scored a blistering try with a cut back to the score under the posts.

Thanks for following the USC Rugby Trojans during the Fall season. The USC Team will be traveling within the Pac 12 region, and needs additional financial support to make the matches happen. Please email Captain Joey Krassenstein to support the USC Rugby Team with a donation. Thank you.