Gators Fall to Triad in Rugby
The Southern Pines Gators, local high school rugby club, lost their first game 38-0 against a much more experienced Triad team.
After the snow postponed their first match against Chapel Hill, the Gators slid into rainy Greensboro to play the team that finished third in the state last year and the inexperience showed.
“We’ve been practicing for two months,” said coach Robert Bortins. “They have 15 guys who played at least one season. We had better athletes, they had better rugby players. My job is to turn our boys into rugby players.”
The Gators started out well, driving the ball deep into Triad territory before a turnover, which led to a quick counter and score by Triad’s fullback to make it 7-0. In rugby, if you score, the other team kicks off back to you. This first kickoff was returned for a try, rugby for touchdown, and a 12-0 score five minutes into the game.
Strong running by inside center and backs captain Grayson Johnson, a junior at Union Pines, kept Triad on its back foot, but the Gators were unable to sustain any drives. Triad was able to prey on Southern Pines inexperience and build a solid 33-0 halftime lead.
“We had a half under our belt, and we were able to make some coaching adjustments. I challenged the team to finish the game strong, and we did,” said Bortins.
Scrum half Ian DeLisle, a junior at Pinecrest, started taking charge of the forwards, getting them to use their size and athleticism to overpower Triad. They were unable to score, but had a couple of chances, and Triad only scored once after a five-minute defensive stand by Southern Pines.
“We had two goals today, play our first game and close the experience gap we have, and find out what our team needs to work on. We accomplished both of those goals, and we played hard for 70 minutes,” said Bortins.
The Gators face the No. 9 team in the nation, the Charlotte Tigers, tonight (Friday) in Charlotte.
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