Sunday, March 1, 2015

St Joseph's Prep sweeps up in Houston

Eagle Senior Payton Pardee & Coach Brett Mills present a rep check for $2000
raised for Breast Cancer Research
By Peter Scarmado, STHS

St. Joseph’s defeats St. Thomas in return of Lady Hager Cup.

This past Sunday morning the St. Thomas rugby team dueled against St. Joseph’s Preparatory School, a touring school from Philadelphia. The Eagles lost to St. Joseph’s by the score of 8-14 while a monsoon like rain fell upon the city of Houston.

Coming off a loss to Strake, where they gave up twenty eight points in the first half alone, the Eagles were well aware they had to be strong on defense if they wanted to beat a team who put up over fifty points against the Jesuits. The Eagles dedicated the entire week of practice to organizing their defense, and it paid off with them holding St. Joseph’s to only fourteen points and shutting them out in the second half.
St Thomas Forward Jake Duron gains extra attention while attacking against St Joseph's Prep.
Picture courtesy of Elizabeth Pardee
The terrible conditions certainly did not help, but for the first time this season it looked like St. Thomas had returned to their old style of play that won them all those state titles. Their revived style of play leaves them with a strong chance to make a run at the South Conference title and a force to be reckoned with by the other teams in the state.

St. Joseph’s played incredibly well, remaining an organized unit despite the torrent of rain, something that might be the reason they are one of the top ranked teams in the nation.

For St. Thomas, this is the one game that is more than just a rugby game. This match was the 7th Annual Lady Hager Cup, a match in which the Eagles don pink jerseys to raise breast cancer awareness. The game has usually been played every season, but for some unknown reason it took a hiatus last season so it is very good to see it return.
St Joe's & St Thomas players pose post match
The Lady Hager Cup was created by St. Thomas assistant coach Brett Mills, whose grandmother Bernice Hager passed away due to breast cancer in 2007. The idea arose when Mills witnessed a professional team in England wearing pink jerseys to raise awareness. The event has been very successful over the last few years, raising $2,000 from this year’s event and over $70,000 since the games inception.

The match was originally planned to be played against Dallas Jesuit in the Bishop’s Cup match on Friday; but the recent snowing in Dallas made the team deem it unsafe for travel. It is not clear at this point whether the two teams will reschedule a match.

St Joseph's B 22-7 Houston Barbarians
The Barbarians moniker is known in rugby communities throughout the world. On the national level the Barbarians are a squad made up of players from all across the world, donning black and white jerseys but retaining the socks from their respective clubs. One can only become a Barbarian through invitation, something based off of the skill and performance of the player. Many clubs throughout the world have used the Barbarians model, and this past Sunday the black and white hoops came to Houston for the very first time.

Several players from St. Thomas, Strake Jesuit, and the Katy Rugby Club were selected to play together against the B side of St. Joseph’s Preparatory School. The match coincided with the varsity of St. Joseph’s coming on tour from Philadelphia to play Strake Jesuit and St. Thomas.

The Sunday morning match was a wet one, a constant rainfall was present throughout the first two periods (the game was played in twenty minute thirds). It without a doubt affected the play of both teams with both the Barbarians and St. Joseph committing sloppy turnovers with the wet ball.

St. Joseph’s started the game with a 12-0 run before the Barbarians cut the deficit to five near the middle of the second period. Strong defense and hard running from both teams made it a closely contested match throughout the first two periods; the ability of St. Thomas freshman Jacob Manley to make long range kicks to touch and long runs on quick tap penalties was truly a sight to behold, without a doubt he was one of the forces that led the Barbarians on their attempted comeback.

St. Joseph’s ultimately won by the score of 22-7, adding two more tries in the third period. They played more like a cohesive unit, running just a little harder and tackling stronger than the Barbarians. The somewhat disorganized Barbarians could be attributed to the fact the players met each other that very morning. It is hard to argue the St. Joseph’s players had no advantage from being teammates.

St Joe's B & Houston Barbarians post-match.
Picture courtesy of Tom Dugan
For St. Thomas, Katy, and Strake Jesuit, their underclassmen performed extremely well when you consider they had never played together until that day. All three teams have genuine talent and will only improve their game as they mature and learn the ways of the game. They all certainly have a bright pool of youth to pull from in the future.

For St. Joseph’s, their tour has to be considered a complete success. Their B-team’s victory today, to go along with their varsity’s dismantling of Strake and 14-8 victory over St. Thomas will have them returning to Philadelphia undefeated while on tour.

The Houston rugby community has hopes the Barbarians will become a constant presence in the city. The possibility of an annual match is certainly present, and it will give players the unique experience of playing alongside guys who used to be their foes on the other side of the pitch.


  1. Players on the Barbarians squad included:

    Matthew Jasper, Jake Downie, Patrick Mullaly, Arran Thompson, and Matthew Williams from Katy;

    Luke Junkunc, Moses Monty, Sam Browning, Michael Bratta, Joseph Schmidt, William Hoekel, Peter Vela, and Tristan Van der Dys from Strake Jesuit; and

    Jacob Manley, Truett White, Miguel Cano, Zach Wilson, Nicholas Brackeen, Carter Dufilho, Garrett Archer, Daniel Silguero, and David Heffernan from St. Thomas.