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Club Sports: Both Irish teams perform well in tournamment

Special to the Observer | Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Notre Dame Men’s Rugby Club traveled to the Moose Rugby Grounds in Elkhart, Ind. to compete in the two-day Big 10 Plus One tournament this weekend.

Notre Dame sent a full team into both the challenger and champion divisions, and each squad made it to the championship game of their division.

The single elimination tournament started for the Irish with an 11 a.m. champion division match against Iowa. The Irish set the pace early, as their forwards were able to march down the field, winning both scrums and lineouts with consistency.

Notre Dame ran up and down the field on the Iowa side, resulting in a final score of 33-0.

The challenger side opened up with similar force, plowing through the Indiana University with speed and precision. Many first-year players saw their opening minutes with the club as the team won the match 24-5.

Later that day, the Irish champion squad took on Minnesota in one of the closest fought matches in the tournament. The Irish struck early, using strong kicks from sophomore Sean Peterson to gain field position. At the end of the half, Minnesota found themselves down by 3 points.

The second half was well fought, and after a successful 45-meter kick by Peterson, the Minnesota side needed a 5-point try, along with the subsequent 2-point conversion to win the game. After scoring in the corner of the try-zone off a lineout, the Minnesota kicker narrowly missed the conversion, giving the Irish a victory and a spot in the championship.

The challenger squad for the Irish then took on Michigan. Tries were scored by many of the first year Notre Dame players. The Irish walked away with a 40-0 victory, gaining a spot in the challenger bracket final.

In the opening minutes of the challenger cup, the Irish took control with huge hits by seniors Kevin Ritt and Sean Mitchell. Although the opposing squad held the Irish off for the first 10 minutes of play, strong offensive runs by freshman Byron Henry and senior Mike Doran opened up the scoring floodgates, leading to a 33-12 victory for the Irish.

Although the squad was winning the match midway through the game, the champion side found themselves outmatched in the scrums with a burly Indiana side. Notre Dame lost scrums, which let Indiana march down the field and score twice late in the second half. The Irish lost the match 26-16.