UMBC Wins Second Consecutive Frostbite Champhionship

830382_211849608961770_829683268_o Waking up at 5:00am on a Saturday isn't typical college kid behavior.  But UMBuC ruggers had to journey 1.5 hours to Lancaster, PA, to defend their title as Frostbite rugby tournament champs.  Frostbite stayed true to its name as on Saturday, freezing rains and a cold breeze greeted the ruggers to Pennsylvania.  Nevertheless, UMBC was kitted up and ready for their 8:30am kickoff vs Neumann to start the day.

History was made with UMBC's first opponent, Neumann, as it was the clubs first ever 15's match.  While it wasn't a full match due to the 25-minute games played, UMBC was still glad to welcome in the team to the rugby community.  Both teams had some kinks to work out on their first games, with sloppy penalties and knock-ons giving the forwards plenty of scrummaging practice.  UMBC would eventually get into the groove and score 4 tries, giving them a 26-0 victory to start the day.

After a short break, UMBC took the pitch against Susquehanna.  Both teams were in good spirits and had a great time playing.  UMBC finally worked out its offensive ball-handling mistakes to lead effective back plays which pressured the Susquehanna defense constantly.  Good crash balls and rucking proved to be too much for Susquehanna's pack, who couldn't keep up with the well-conditioned UMBC forwards.  With several good runs from forwards inserting into the back line, UMBC would go on to score another 4 tries, and get their second win 24-0.

UMBC's final match of the first day was against Ursinus, who came out and immediately put the pressure on the UMBC defense.  However, UMBC held firm and kept the ball out of the try zone during several close calls against the monstrous Ursinus forwards on pick-and-go's.  Good kicking and offensive plays from the backline relieved the pressure but the game was scoreless at halftime.  After more back-and-forth action, UMBC finally got a scoring opportunity off of a penalty and capitalized to go up 3-0.  For the last 2 minutes of the game, UMBC forwards kept ball-in-hand with a series of crashes which left the pack exhausted, but ultimately victorious.  UMBC ended the day 3-0 and were not scored on.

Getting up even earlier on Sunday was more brutal than imagined.  However, UMBC was focused on finishing what they started and getting their championship trophy.  At 8:00 am they kicked off vs Susquehanna in a rematch where both teams had something to prove.  A much tougher, smarter, and more disciplined Susquehanna team held well defensively and made powerful offensive runs.  UMBC struck first when a ball popped out of a ruck, and the hooker grabbed the ball on the go and ran 20 meters down the sideline to score.  A beautiful angled point-after would put up UMBC 7-0.  Susquehanna answered after halftime, with a run off a penalty to tie the game at 7-7.  Despite both teams' best efforts, neither could get the ball over the posts or in the try zone until the final whistle, ending the game in a 7-7 tie.

This meant that in order to become champions, UMBC had to win their final game vs Neumann.  Hurting for numbers, UMBC asked several new players to step up, and they did very well.  Experienced with several games under their belt, Neumann had several offensive attacks where they were poised to score.  However, UMBC's defense held their ground with poaches and counter-rucks.  Excellent counter-attacking and good support runners gave a total of 5 tries for UMBC.  With a 29-0 win, UMBC finished the tournament 4-0-1.  Afterwards, UMBC took a photo with Neumann to commemorate the club's first opponent on the pitch.  There were plenty of laughs and congratulations all around in true rugby fashion.

UMBC's 4-0-1 record (13 points) barely edged out Ursinus's 4-1-0 (12 points) to give UMBC its second consecutive Frostbite Tournament Championship.  In the trophy presentation, tournament director Tom Hallowell spoke about the club, saying,"You boys are a blast [to play with]... and represent the best in sportsmanship."

UMBC would like to thank its players who woke up early and came out the the games, especially the new players who had never even seen a game of rugby before.  We hope the tournament shows what rugby is all about - dedication, sportsmanship, and love for the game.  And maybe being a bit crazy too.

Plenty of recovery and practice is in order after the win, to prepare for the first home game of the season this Saturday.

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