Saturday, May 27, 2017

Andover Rallies Past Scituate for 3rd Place at Mass Youth Rugby Championships

By Jason Siegel (@jasiegel1821)

Worcester, Mass. - The Andover Rugby Union (ARU) club team scored 26 unanswered points to erase a 14-0 deficit and defeat Scituate, 38-19, in the Massachusetts Youth Rugby Organization (MYRO) third-place game on Saturday afternoon at Foley Stadium in Worcester.

Early in the contest, Scituate had success passing the ball and using all parts of the field, allowing Scituate to strike first and open up a 7-0 lead.

The advantage doubled when Scituate forced a fumble and picked the ball up in the end zone for another try. The two-point kick was converted, giving Scituate a 14-0 lead.

Andover would respond with a try by Payton Heidtke, who was helped across the line by a big push from his teammates. Heidtke’s try was set up by a long run by Benjamin Ledoux. The two-point kick cut Scituate’s lead in half.

After a long run by Joseph Rockwell, Noah Krueger scored on a one-yard run for Andover. The extra point kick tied the game at 14 at halftime.

Andover head coach Chris Ranwell said that after his team fell behind 14-0, they started playing with more intensity and were fighting for 50-50 balls on the ground, which led to more possessions and, ultimately, more points for Andover.

Long runs continued to be key for Andover in the second half. Rockwell ran the ball down the far sideline for a 25-yard score, and Graham Focke followed up with a 15-yard try run down the sideline. Philip Amesoeder converted one of the two two-point tries, extending Andover’s advantage to 26-14.

After Scituate scored another try to cut its deficit to 26-19, Andover answered with a run by fullback Trip Needham and a 60-yard run by Krueger, the longest play of the day by either team.

Amesoeder drilled the two-point conversion kick after Krueger’s try, which made the score 38-19.

As his team celebrated a victory to end their season and a third-place finish in the MYRO tournament, coach Ranwell talked about rugby’s increasing popularity among youth and adolescents in Massachusetts.

The six-year coach of Andover’s rugby team and former rugby player said that the sport of rugby is becoming very attractive to football and soccer players who are looking for a physical sport to play in the spring.

“Being a spring sport, (rugby) doesn’t conflict with some other sports, like football or soccer,” Coach Ranwell said. “There are players… who want to have a physical sport to do in the spring, and they’ve really grown to like rugby.”

Ranwell added that it is easier for athletes to walk on as rugby players in college compared to other sports.

As rugby gains more popularity, Ranwell will look to continue to recruit football and soccer players, as well as wrestlers to be part of the Andover Rugby Union. Based on their successful season, it appears the Andover’s rugby program is already ahead of the curve.

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