The Runner Sports

USA Club Rugby Report: St. Louis Royals Reign, Win Men’s DIII National Championship; Stephen Duff Named Player of the Match

The St. Louis Royals survived a physical matchup with Bremer County Bucks to seize the DIII USA Rugby Club National Championship, which eluded them in 2010.  Bremer County withstood an early onslaught to keep the match in contention but were ultimately unable to climb the mountain, in the end, St. Louis winning 29-19.

First Half

Captain Tadhg Leader was pure class and skill embodying his surname well beyond his sharp accurate passes and well-placed kicks. He led a dominant effort early by St. Louis who appeared ready to run away with the match after building a 15-0 lead with tries from center Ty Turner and winger Jason Shulte. Leader punished the Bucks with a penalty kick and precision. But Bremer County fought back. With only 14 players for most of the first 40, the Bucks battled their way to a 15-7 halftime score. Despite taking momentum late via fly-half Eric Whitcome’s try and fiery personality could not avoid what seemed inevitable.

Second Half

The second 40 started much like the first ended; Bremer County’s physical style appeared to take St. Louis out of their comfort zone but the Royals adjusted quickly. As the match turned into a back and forth of exhaustion induced mistakes, Tadhg Leader split the Bucks defense, extending the 22-7 St. Louis lead. The Bucks put in a couple of late scores but when fullback Stephen Duff scored, the score climbed to an insurmountable 29-7.

The match was exhausting to watch but in a good way. One clear difference between the DI matches yesterday and this was clearly conditioning; both clubs looked exhausted by halftime and most didn’t catch their breath in the shed. The skill was clearly on display but much of it dampened by weary arms and legs.

In a moment of post-match confusion, Stephen Duff was named Man of the Match and while his try sealed the deal it appeared even he felt Tadhg Leader was equally as deserving. The Royals look to have a bright future with Tadhg as their leader.

 

 

-By Jason Graves