Club rugby falls to Sam Houston in 7’s opener
On March 5, the Cougar club rugby team hosted the Sam Houston Bearkats at Houston Sports Park in a round robin sevens tournament between the two schools.
Both schools fielded two squads that played each other over the course of the six games.
Ultimately, the tournament was a thing of missed opportunities. The Cougars seemed to be in control of their own destiny through the fray, but could not get anything going near the end as both squads fell to their Bearkat counterparts.
In the first game, the Cougars A side simply outclassed the B side of the Bearkats, thrashing them by a score of 49-7.
Brett Funderburk opened the action, going high to steal the kickoff and offloaded to Kyle Hill to open the scoring.
From there, the Cougars never let up on the pressure. They were able to consistently move the ball and steal it back from the Bearkats to set up a series of long try scoring runs. Funderburk, Hill (2), freshman Lesedi Manthata and Ryan “Squirrel” Becker (3) were the try scorers, with Squirrel going 7/7 on the conversion kicks to account for 29 of the Cougars’ points.
The Bearkats only score came after the Cougars’ lack of awareness on a chip kick that allowed the Bearkats to recover and score. But Squirrel had the last laugh with an individual try that took him coast to coast to score under the posts.
In the second match, the Cougars B side did not fare the same way. Facing the Bearkats A team, who were more than prepared for the Cougars, the Cougars were shut out 27-0.
Overall, the Cougars had excellent running by junior Abe Blanco and Jesse Gonzalez, but sloppy passes wasted their opportunities and allowed the Bearkats to score on long runs through the gaps.
The next two matches consisted of intersquad matches between the two squads. The Bearkats’ B team wasted a lead they had at halftime and ultimately lost 27-17 to face the winner of the Cougars A vs Cougars B match.
The teammates challenged each other and brought the best out of the team, ending deadlocked in a 22 all tie.
Funderburk once again opened the action with a long score off of the kickoff. Squirrel for the A team and Hill for the B team both showed off their speed as Hill was able to sprint across the field to catch Squirrel right at the posts to prevent him from scoring.
Though senior Christopher Hoz did eventually score after a penalty, the Cougars’ B team showed their defense deep in their half.
Tries from Manthata and another from Funderburk for the A team, and from Hill, Gonzalez (2) and Blanco for the B team resulted in the final score. The A team gained the advantage in a tie and went on to face the Bearkats’ A side.
The Cougars’ B team fought valiantly against the Bearkats’ B team. It may have been sloppy running, but it was hard running.
Too many bad passes led to too many knock on’s and too many scrums, however, allowing the Bearkats to score three long tries off of set pieces. Final score was Cougars 7-21 Bearkats.
In the final match, the Cougars were put on the defensive right from the get go. After a bad pass lost the ball for the Cougars, they got pushed all the way inside their own 22.
The Cougars did manage to win the ball back, but so did the Bearkats. The Bearkats ended up scoring on a penalty try due to Funderburk tackling a Bearkats player above the shoulder and preventing a try scoring opportunity.
The teams end up trading penalties and the Bearkats scored an actual try after another line break.
The Bearkats ended up leading 19-0 at the half due to another penalty try after Hill also tackled the runner high, also resulting in a yellow card for Hill.
The Cougars came out with more intensity in the second half, but after time was wasted by lineouts and ground was lost by poor passes, Squirrel’s scoring on two back to back tries the was not enough as the Cougars had run out of time.
Both squads played against teams they should have beaten, but bad decision-making and too many penalties saw opportunities wasted.
Overall, the team showed flashes of the talent they had and this result will make sure the coaching staff knows what they need to work on to get the Cougars prepared for April.