National Small College Rugby Organization LLC: Latest News: Biola Ousted at Home by Azusa Pacific

Monday, December 3
Biola Ousted at Home by Azusa Pacific

By Conner Penfold

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Note: Biola University is a private, evangelical Christian, liberal arts university located in La Mirada, California and is a member of the newly formed Pacific Mountain West Rugby Conference’s Small College Division, as is Azusa Pacific University. League play is scheduled to begin on January 19.

Biola rugby lost to rival Azusa Pacific University 38-21 on Saturday at Rancho Elementary Field. The club has come a long way since last season’s pummeling at the hands of Azusa. Losing to the Cougars 55-0 in only the second match in the team’s young history last March, Saturday’s rematch at home was far more competitive.

“I think they were expecting the same team,” senior team captain Anthony Cantu said after the game. “We’re a real rugby team this time around.”

Tries from Glover, McGee kept Biola close
After sophomore prop Bill Glover’s try and a Cantu conversion put Biola ahead 7-0 early in the first half, Azusa responded with 12 straight points to close out the half.

“We kept them on their back feet for the first 20 minutes,” Cantu said.

Biola took their only other lead in the match when senior winger Chris McGee added a try just after the start of the second half, making it 14-12 along with another Cantu conversion.

Azusa countered with three consecutive tries, eventually closing out the Eagles just as the match became chippy.

“We let our heads get out of control and they took advantage of it,” Cantu said.

Biola’s improvements noticeable across the board
Azusa captain Scott Cervera, whose second-half try put the Cougars up by double-digits, noticed a significant difference in Biola’s level of play.

“Biola came together and fought like a real team today,” Cervera said. “They led the first half no doubt. Our team was just able to find a little momentum in the second half and take it home.”

Biola head coach Andy Draycott remained positive after the game, citing clear improvements from just eight months ago.

“Our rugby is incomparably better,” Draycott said. “We were able to keep the ball controlled, keep it tight, and maintain possession … our whole kind of rugby knowledge has improved so that as a team we know what we’re doing as we’re playing on the field.

“Last time we played [Azusa] we were just trying to put it together,” he said. “This time, with preseason games under our belt, we know what rugby looks like and we’re playing it hard.”

Freshman winger Kenny Lowry, playing in just his second game, added a try late in the second half on a long run from midfield. “It was actually the first time I’d ever gotten the ball to run with it,” Lowry said.

“It was the best feeling.”

Play of wingers complemented by forwards’ set-up
Draycott was happy with his team’s play, praising the play of the forwards to create plays for Lowry and other wingers.

“The platform of good possession that our forwards give us, as soon as we get that running out to the backs those guys have got space,” Draycott said.

“He’s a strong runner,” Draycott said of Lowry. “People like him are going to be running it in every time.”

Biola will face Concordia University Irvine next Saturday at home in the team’s last match of the fall season.

“I’m really happy,” Cantu said. “We’ve come a long way since last year.”