Spring 2006 Match Reports
Farewell and good luck to our graduating seniors
Sean Foley (flyhalf, and Captain)
Tom Jayne (lock)
Kevin Jones (lock and #8, and Vice Captain)
Tyler King (flanker and lock)
Atsufumi Kiyokuni (scrumhalf – returning to Japan)
Tom Tajkowski (flanker and #8)
Captain and Vice Captain for the 2006-2007 Season
Captain – Tony Giubardo
Vice Captain – Mike Fitzgerald
Congratulations to the Spring 2006 Truman Rugby Award winners
Outstanding Forward – Tom Tajkowski (flanker and #8)
Outstanding Back – Sean Foley (flyhalf)
Outstanding Rookie – Atsufumi Kiyokuni (scrumhalf)
Most Improved Player – Justin Lacy (flanker)
Josh Sisson’s final Index Article – You recognize his name because he has written so many Index articles about Truman Rugby over the past three years. Josh has been a great and committed supporter. In his final article, he acknowledges 5 people … one of which is Truman Rugby Coach, Bill Sexton.
Spring 2006 Team Photo (4/23/2006)
Graduating Seniors Photo – Spring 2006
(from L to R: Tom Jayne, Tom Tajkowski, Sean Foley, Kevin Jones, Atsufumi Kiyokuni – missing, Tyler King)
Congratulations to Sean Foley, who was featured in the “Men’s Profile” for Rugby Magazine. Special thanks to Chris Tharp from the Truman Index for the photo from the Fall 2005 Alumni Game. (Also pictured are Kevin Jones in support, with Bryan Lay closing in.)
Club Officers – 2006
President – Tim Hage
Treasurer – Tony Giubardo
Recruiting & PR – Mike Pieper
Field & Equipment – Tom Smith
Fall 2005 Playing Awards & Alumni Sponsors
Outstanding Forward – Kyle Stephens / Harry Kuan
Outstanding Back – Tony Giubardo / Scott Lay
Outstanding Rookie – Mike Fitzgerald / Tim Russo
Most Improved Player – Tim Branch / Jason Buschman
Alan Chapman Service Award – TBA / Guy Hagen
The Truman Men held took an early lead against UNI on Sunday in their match of the spring 2006 season. However, UNI stormed back in the second half, taking the lead with 20 minutes to play. Truman shored up their defense, and regained the lead for good with 10 min to play, and held on for a slim 4 point victory. There was nothing easy about this game. UNI is a big and aggressive team, who play straight-up, hard rugby. They carry a big attitude that propels them, despite a continuous stream of unseemly rhetoric from players and reserves. UNI was on the way home after having played the University of Missouri in Kansas City in conjunction with the KC Blues Rugby Super League match with the St. Louis Bombers. Apparently, UNI won the game “40-something to 17”, however, an exact score was not available.
From the outset, Truman was playing an aggressive and well-organized rucking game – perhaps the best performance of the season in this area. Truman was able to string together multiple phases, while varying the attack. Truman opened the scoring at 9 min when center Tony Giubardo burst through from about 15 m out. The conversion was missed, but Truman had a 5-0 lead. Five min later, a Sean Foley penalty made it 8-0. Just minutes later, an ill-advised clearing kick, went straight to the UNI left wing, who then countered across field to link with his backs. The chip-kick to the goal line was bobbled, and the UNI covered the ball in-goal to score. The conversion was good, and the score stood at 8-7. (Lesson: Always claim a bouncing ball, especially one near the goal line, with your body – go to ground to claim the ball. The law requires that the defender permit the player to come to his feet, yet most will pounce on the player who has gone to ground to claim the ball, and this will often draw a penalty. If nothing else, it will likely prevent the easy try for the opposition.) At the 25 min mark, #8 Tom Tajkowski picked to the blind side from a 5 m scrum, he popped the ball to scrumhalf Atsufumi Kiyokuni, who then fed hustling tighthead prop, Leo Stephens for the try. The Foley conversion was good, and Truman held a 15-7 lead. At 30 min, Truman were again pressuring the UNI line, when Kevin Jones picked and with “Big” Tom Smith in support, they drive a “Sally-ball” over for the converted try (Score 22-7).
Soon after halftime, UNI turned up their intensity. They scored three tries (with two conversions) in the first 20 min to take a 26-21. In fairness, UNI picked-up their attack, but truth be told, Truman had some serious defensive lapses, missing some tackles. Truman was able to retake the lead with 10 min to go. Foley kicked to touch for a lineout 5 m out. The Mike Fitzgerald to Tom Jayne throw was good, and the rolling maul was on. Fitz managed to spin into goal for the score. The conversion from the left sideline was wide, but Truman lead 27-26. A few minutes later Foley drilled a line-drive penalty kick from 48 m to extend the lead to 30-26. At this point, UNI pounded forward looking for the go-ahead try. The Truman defense bent, but did not break. A series of penalties in the closing seconds allowed Truman to clear to touch, and the win.
Tries: Giubardo, Stephens, Jones, Fitzgerald
Conversions: Foley (2 of 4)
Penalties: Foley (2 of 3)
Truman place 3rd at West Collegiates.
Truman won their opening match of the West Collegiate Championships over Louisiana State University 38-5. Truman was unable to contain the large Wyoming team in semifinals, losing 8-32. However, Truman rebounded to take 3rd place with an inspired win over a strong Colorado State University 26-17. (Match details to follow.) Thanks to the alumni (Jason Buschman, 1992 and Kris Karsten, 1997) and parents (Mr. & Mrs. Giubardo, Mr. and Mrs. Branch, Dr. Ralph) who attended our matches, and provided bagels for the team after Sunday’s match. Special thanks to Jason Buschman who generously treated the entire team to dinner on Friday evening!
(Index article – April 12, 2006)
In a game that had all sorts of playoff implications, Truman defeated Oklahoma State in the final league match of the season 107-0. Truman entered this match knowing that we had to win and score at least 4 tries to get the bonus point. This would create a 3-way tie for first place in the Central Men’s Collegiate League between Nebraska, Oklahoma and Truman, with each team holding a 4-1 league record. In this event, the deciding factor would be the cumulative point differential for all league games played. With a win and a bonus point, Truman’s point differential would propel them into #2 and secure a seed at the West Collegiate Championships April 7-9. More unlikely was the notion that Truman could score the net 46 points necessary to pass OU. As it turned out, Truman won, got the bonus point, and exceeded the 46 point margin. Truman moved from 3rd to 1st in the Central league and will be the 3rd seed in the West Collegiate Championships – facing #6 LSU in the first round.
What happened could not have been predicted. OSU has had a good year, and was competitive in virtually every match they played. We fully expected them to be big and tough, and that they would be a hard test. We prepared physically and mentally for the challenge. Truman took the field with a mission and a single-minded determination to win. On the other hand, OSU had troubles, and traveled with just 15 players, some of whom arrived just before the match.
The match opened with Truman receiving the OSU kick-off, working through a couple of phases, before flyhalf Sean Foley lifted a ball over the OSU left wing. Freshman wing, Josh Harris took the ball off the bounce full-stride to score between the post in less than one minute. Foley’s conversion was good and Truman had the early lead 7-0. Several minutes later, prop Tom Smith took a short pass from a lineout drive and peel to score his first try. Foley conversion was good and it was 14-0 at 10 min in. Fullback Tim Branch broke free a few minutes later, and cut back against the flow to score and converted try for a 21-0 score. Foley scored back-to-back tries at 25 and 29 min to raise the score to 38-0. Center Tony Giubardo broke through the centers at 32 min to score a converted leaving the halftime score at 45-0. The magic number was 46 pts “net”, and there was no talk of having this game won and everyone knew that pressure had to be maintained. (Tragically, one of the OSU centers (William Keenan) broke his ankle late in the first half and was off to the hospital. We did not hear how he was doing yet, but hope he is well.)
The second half started furiously, with a Tom Tajkowski try at 4 min, a second Josh Harris try at 8 min (neither conversion was good), bringing the score to 55-0. Then scrumhalf Atsufumi Kiyokuni scored at a converted try under the posts at 10 min, followed on the next restart by Giubardo’s 2nd try at 11 min (score 67-0). Branch scored his 2nd, followed by wing Jim Dougherty. Branch scored two more tries to take his personal tally to four on the day, while Foley slipped in for his 3rd. Right at full time, hooker Mike Fitzgerald went over followed by the Foley conversion to close out the game at 107-0.
Tries: Branch (4), Foley (3), Giubardo (2), Harris (2), Smith, Jones,Tajkowski, Kiyokuni, Dougherty, Fitzgerald
Conversions: Foley (9 of 17)
Comment: With approximately 10 min to play in the match and the score just going to 93-0, the referee reportedly asked OSU if they wanted the match to be called early. It was reported that they took at team vote in the end-goal area, deciding to finish the match. OSU deserves praise not only for their commitment to honoring their league fixture and playing the match with just 15 players – and playing about 45 min with only 14 players. This says volumes about the OSU players and their leadership, and shows character and commitment. Credit to them, as they rebounded to take Nebraska to the wire, losing by two points later in the afternoon.
Wow! What a showing by Truman’s Alumni this weekend – I counted 13 (not including significant other and children). It was second only to an Alumni game in numbers, and the presence of so much Alumni support was greatly appreciated by Truman’s players. The list is long, and I hope to remember everyone who was there (if I missed your name, I apologize): Paulie Askeland, Mike Gibson (with young son and daughter), Skip Eddy, Mark Dodson, Dave and Mr. Ethetton, Harry Kuan, Kevin Hunn, Brian Wilson, Ryan Worth, Chris Bell, Buck Delaney, Kurt Albin, and Nick Welchert.
TRUMAN defeats ST. LOUIS UNIVERSITY in tournament finals
Truman faced SLU in the final of the KC Blues Collegiate Tournament. Truman faced SLU earlier this season in the finals of their Mardi Gras tournament in St. Louis, coming away with a 45-0 win. Truman wanted to win, but also wanted to get everyone on the pitch, and try some new combinations. The side was “reorganized” to start our reserves, and to put people at new positions in hopes of creating better depth and Versatility. SLU came out determined and was pressuring early. Truman was pretty “disorganized” and we had trouble finding our rhythm, and made lots of basic errors. SLU scored first when Mike Staub (KC Blues) slipped through to score under the posts and take an early 7-0 lead. (Staub’s presence on the field was confusing, since SLU had non-playing reserves on the sideline.) Truman started to get into the flow and Tony Giubardo (playing outside center) crashed through to get Truman on the board, knotting the score at 7-7. Kiyokuni (playing flyhalf) made a slicing run to score and unconverted try to give Truman a 12-7 lead at 23 min. Foley (playing fullback) exploited an overload to score and convert, to make it 19-7. At halftime, Tom Tajkowski scored to make it 24-7 (in shortened halves).
We made a couple more positional switches for the second half, which started the way it finished with a Tajkowski score – this time a nice #8 pick-up from a 5 m scrum. Taurean Johnson, playing loosehead prop, scored at 12 min to take score to 36-7. Unfortunately, some serious indiscipline from players on both teams resulted in a yellow card to a Truman player for retaliation for a late hit, and a red card to player who made the late tackle for charging down the Truman player a second time (as reported by a union official on the touch line). Credit to the Truman player for accepting his yellow card, and learning a hard lesson while in the “sin-bin”. In contrast, the string of explicatives and commentary from the SLU player towards the referee as he left the field was unbelievable. With time winding down, Mike Pieper scored a final try for Truman, that was converted on a drop goal by Tom Tajkowski! Unfortunately, on that last series, Will Holleman rolled his ankle badly and will need next week’s off-week to rehab. The final score was Truman 43 – SLU 7.
Tries: Tajkowski (2), Giubardo, Kiyokuni, Foley, Johnson, Pieper
Conversions: Foley (3 of 5), Tajkowski (1 of 1)
Comment: Truman collect a nice trophy for winning the first KC Blues Collegiate Tournament. Sean Foley was named Outstanding Back of the Tournament by the coaches and referees, and Tom Tajkowski was named Outstanding Forward of the Tournament.
Next Match: Truman is off on April 1st, but will be training. We depart for the West Collegiate Championships at the University of Oklahoma in Norman, OK on Thursday, April 6. We will play three games, one each on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Our opening round match will be Friday, April 7 against LSU (#6 seed, and 2nd in the Texas Collegiate region). Truman will face either Wyoming (#2) or OU (#7) in the second match on Saturday, April 8.
Truman Has Big Task to Make West Playoffs
By Alex Goff (www.goffonrugby.com)
March 21, 2006 – Norman, Okla. hosts the West men’s college playoffs in a little more than two weeks and as yet six of the eight seeds are set, and two are waiting for this weekend’s big game in Kansas City. There 3-1 Truman State face off with Oklahoma State. Currently Truman State stands outside the playoff picture, with 4-1 Nebraska 1st over 4-1 Oklahoma by virtue of a head-to-head tiebreaker. However, should Truman State win and earn a bonus point for four tries, they will be tied on standings points with both the Cornuskers and the Sooners. The head-to-head cancels out, and they move to point differential. On that score A 4-1 Truman State would knock Nebraska from 1st to 3rd. Should Truman win by 46 or more, they will pass Oklahoma for first place.
“We are certainly aware of all of that,” said Truman head coach Bill Sexton. “Coming in first means a lot because that gives us the #3 seed in the West and puts us against LSU, whereas being second means we play Wyoming out of the gate. LSU is a good side, but Wyoming is always tough in these playoffs.”
But winning is paramount, and getting that bonus point also. They don’t do those things, there’s no playoffs at all.
Truman has a few more obstacles to overcome, namely the expected foot of snow in their region this week. It’s supposed to be cleared off by Saturday, but training will be difficult. This after the team has just returned from Spring Break.
“We had a long talk about what this weekend meant before spring break,” said Sexton.
Led by All American Sean Foley at flyhalf, Truman State is not just a one-man show. “We can’t be,” said Sexton.
Center Tony Giubardo is a West All-Star and DeSmet high school product who has produced in the backs. Freshman Mike Fitzgerald has done excellent work in the front row as hooker and this lineout throws have been something. A St. Louis High product, Fitzgerald has linked up well with senior and first-year player Tom Jayne, a former basketball player-turned-lock who has excellent lineout jumping and ball skills.
Sexton had worried about scrumhalf, were availability appeared to be an issue, but Japanese exchange student Atsufumi Kiyokuni has slipped into that role brilliantly. Kiyokuni is the second Keio University exchange student to excel at Truman in rugby, and he was coached by his predecessor so well he has integrated very successfully into the school and the team.
Looking forward this weekend, then, Sexton wants a bonus point win, then a big win, and his players to be healthy. “We only have 23 on the roster, so we need to stay healthy,” he said. “We went into last year’s WRU playoffs without out No.s 8, 10, 12, and 15. That’s tough.”
The WRU’s draconian playoff schedule is tough, too, as it requires college teams to play three games in a weekend. It’s very tough for the smaller squads, and not really recommended for the big ones, but the players are excited about the challenge.
And despite the strong play of Colorado, Wyoming and A&M, there’s a general feeling that without Air Force in the mix this year, the title is really up for grabs.
(Index article – March 23, 2006 – Some inaccuracies regarding the actual playoff picture and our present situation, as well as Tim Russo and UNL. See the Goff on Rugby article above for a more accurate version of the playoff picture)
At half, prop Tom Smith (who was suffering a head cold) came off, and was replaced on the front row by Taurean Johnson, who moved from blind-side flanker. Mike Pieper came on at blind-side flanker. Pieper managed to score at 7 min into the second half, when after some good phases from the forwards, he picked at the back of a ruck and took the ball the last 5 m to score. The conversion was wide and the score was 31-0. At 16 min, inside center Tony Giubardo broke free around the left end and raced down the left touchline to score (conversion no good; 36-0). Fullback Tim Branch got on the scoreboard at 24 min, and a Foley conversion brought the score to 43-0. With time winding down, we made a series of substitutions to assure everyone got some playing time. Foley scored an unconverted try at 28 min, to bring the score to 48-0. KU turned-up the attack and put Truman on the defensive for the last 8 min of the game, creating lots of pressure inside the Truman 22 m. The Truman defense held, but it proved a challenge to keep KU out of the try zone and to seal the game. FINAL SCORE: Truman 48 – KU 0.Comment: With the victory, 8 tries and the net match points, Truman must now defeat OSU and score at least four tries to get a slot in the West Championships.
Visiting Oklahoma established a strong and dynamic pace from the beginning of the match that created problems for Truman in attack. Truman started slowly, but began to increase pressure on OU, however, it proved too little to overcome the early OU lead. Despite the long trip from Norman, OK, the OU team seemed fresh and they were very effective on defense, creating and maintaining pressure on Truman. They also seemed more coordinated on attack, and executed more consistently than Truman.
OU opened the scoring at 5 min when an OU player pounced on a blocked Sean Foley kick. The conversion was wide, and OU held an early 0-5 lead. An OU penalty kick at 14 min brought the score to 0-8. A well-executed backrow move from a 5 m scrum, results in an unconverted try at 19 min, to extend their lead to 0-13. A Truman lapse just moments later, lead to a converted OU try. OU lead by 20 points to nil after 21 min. Truman began to settle down and play more effectively, creating pressure on OU. Truman came up short on a penalty goal attempt at 33 min. Outside center, Will Holleman broke the defensive line and outraced the defense to open the Truman scoring at 38 min. Foley converted and the gap was reduced to 7-20 at halftime.
During halftime, Truman felt that the tone of the match had changed in the last 15 min of the first half, and that with the breeze in the second half, felt that Truman could close the gap. However, just 1 min into the second half, OU scored an unconverted try to extend their lead to 7-25. The match stalemated for the next 35 min, with neither team scoring. It was not for lack of effort. Truman were in some respects undone by poor execution, combined with aggressive defense from OU. Truman was foiled on three driving mauls (two from lineouts and one from a scrum) in which they did not protect the ball, leading to a held ball, and restart – and no points. Obviously, success here would have changed the complexion of the game, and we need to work on these deficiencies. Following a nice linebreak and several good passes, hooker Mike Fitzgerald broke through to score a Foley-converted try at 36 min. The score was 14-25 with 5 min and Truman was playing as effective as they had all day. A 2-try comeback was not to be, and OU’s bigger pack executed a push-over try at no-time with a conversion to close-out the match with a final score of 14-32.
Closing comments: Truman clearly could have played better. We started a little flat. However, OU’s quick and aggressive defense pressured Truman’s attack and forced a number of errors. Combined with some uncharacteristic knock-ons and poor execution on driving mauls, Truman was unable to put up the points needed to overcome OU. OU is a very good side, and Truman underperformed. We need to take some lessons from this loss.
Tries: Holleman and Fitzgerald
Conversions: Foley (2 for 2)
Penalties: Foley (0 for 1)
Next Game: Central Collegiate League match against University of Kansas in Lawrence, KS. See Directions for directions to Westwick Rugby Complex in Lawrence, KS.
Truman wins St. Louis University Mardi Gras Tournament
See Schedule and Scores for match results