1996-1997 Match Results
1997 Galveston Mardi Gras - 2/1/1997
Mardi Gras Finalists
2 wins, 1 loss
Galveston Mardi Gras
February 1-2, 1997
Link to Galveston RFC
Fort Worth showed up to its first match against Victoria RFC with barely 15 players. With very sloppy play and numerous missed tackles, Victoria fought to a 18-0 half-time lead. As more players arrived, FW fought back to win in the final minutes 19-18. Hats off to Victoria for a great match. In the afternoon, FW met a solid El Paso team. El Paso played great defense, holding FW tryless, but the foot of Theo Van Wyk provided the difference for a 9-0 victory.
The final on Sunday pitted the Dallas Reds against FW. The Reds beat Beaumont 33-0 and Woodlands 24-0 on Saturday. With a few new players, the Reds had been on a tear in the previous weeks. After beating Arlington 104-5 and Denton 100-6, the Reds had hoped to roll through Mardi Gras.
The Reds jumped to a 15-0 lead with a 60m run by their scrum half, and long runs by their gifted fullback. As had been the case all season, FW controlled the scrums, taking balls against the head, and driving the scrums at will. After some tremendous play by the FW backs, FW cut the lead to 15-10 at the half. Late in the second half, with FW down 27-17, the Reds lost a front row player. With Tony Foliaki at #8, the Reds (with a straight face) claimed to have no replacement front row players. The referee declared uncontested scrums, and the most dominant phase of FW`s game was gone. After cutting the lead to 27-24, the Reds kicked another penalty to make it 30-24. On the ensuing kickoff, FW lost the ball and the Reds began a backline move. FW winger Nick Betts then picked off a pass and sprinted 70m to the try zone. Only a tremendous play by Dallas` fullback stopped him from scoring, as Nick was rolled over within the try zone and not allowed to touch the ball to the ground. Had it not been for the uncontested scrums, FW would have simply pushed over the next scrum and set up the winning conversion. Instead, FW picked up from #8, and the ensuing two rucks put the ball within one foot of a try. The last ruck saw the ball presented at the back of the ruck as the referee blew the final whistle. Dallas Reds 30, Fort Worth 24.
1996 Las Vegas Challenge - 12/7/1996
2 wins, 2 losses
1996 Las Vegas Challenge
December 7-8, 1996
Fort Worth RFC travelled to its first out-of-state tournament in years, venturing to the silver state to play in the premier rugby tournament of the Fall.
FWRFC left late Friday night, arriving in Las Vegas at nearly midnight. Trouble with accomodations began early as our 15 passenger van rental had been totalled only hours earlier. The auto rental company had arranged for two GM Safari vans from a competitor, which were perfect. Arrangements for our hotel were made by Fort Worth`s Social Secretary, Squirrel Boy Darren Barner, who chose the luxurious Gold Spike for our stay. At $5 per person per night, it seemed slightly overpriced, but no one cared at 12:30 am. Once we had pushed our way through the homeless and panhandlers in the lobby casino, we made our way to our rooms.
Once settled in, we went off to have something to eat, and had a nice meal at Molly`s. Afterwards, we went back and crashed till about 5:45, which was when we had to wake to play our first game at 7:20 against Pasadena RFC. We would like to thank Las Vegas RFC for scheduling us for the earliest match. Traditionally the team that comes the most distance plays the latest, but it was about time to rid the world of such an archaic and logical practice.
Pasadena RFC came to play, but we proved too much for them, winning with a slim 16-10 victory. After winning and feeling pretty good about ourselves, Keith Dalton brought us back down to earth, saying something like "Guys, it`s good that we won, but that team probably won`t win a game this weekend. We`ll have to play better if we expect to win another game." Thanks Keith.
After a mid-morning nap, we squared off against Las Vegas in the afternoon, finishing very strong with a 39-0 victory. The highlights of the match were two penalty plays to Mike Szmanski. On the first, the defense parted like the Red Sea as Mike plowed over the try line with two players meagerly trying to jump on his back to bring him down. When we found ourselves in the same position later, Szmanski was the obvious choice again. This time, once over the try line he decided to center the try under the posts, running over a few Las Vegas players in the process. Another interesting note about this game, Charlie Burgess claimed the "Forrest Gump" award as he ran through the try zone. Doh!
The party at the Hard Rock Casino Saturday had a good, loud band, but wasn`t too fun as rugby parties go. There were no songs, no rugby queen, just a lot of noise. Most of the team went off to gamble or to a club.
Sunday saw Fort Worth in the cup bracket, to square off against Brady Street. Intelligence the previous night told us they were really Milwaukee RFC, and that we didn`t have a chance. Looking at the bracket, it looked like LV loaded the four best teams, Brady St., Back Bay, Belmont Shore, and Fort Worth on one side and themselves and three weaker teams on the other. Oh well, it`s their tournament.
Fort Worth came ready to play, but so did Milwaukee. MRFC jumped to a quick 10-0 lead, as FW suffered a few breakdowns early. The scrums, however, were a different story. The tight five was Szmanski (275#), Dalton (275#), Zwanenburg (260#), Taylor (250#), and Harlin (240#). At 1300 pounds, this may have been the largest collection of beef this side of the Rio Grande. On scrums against the head, I`ll never forget Buddy Taylor screaming "And NOW!", and almost falling on his face as the front row sprinted away. In the second half, Fort Worth began to control the game. The first score came as captain James Walters threw a no-look over the shoulder pass to his inside, which was caught by Theo Van Wyk who put it down under the posts. Unfortunately, the winning try was run completely through the try zone. With two fields end to end, and small try zones, the try zone was misjudged and the final score ended in a 10-7 loss.
Fort Worth`s final game saw them match up against Belmont Shore, 6-3 losers to Back Bay. FW once again dominated the scrums and fought to a 13-11 lead late in the second half. After having a player sent off, FW lost control as Belmont Shore scored two late tries for a 21-13 win. The tournament ended with FW finishing 2-2, with losses against Milwaukee and Belmont Shore, two Division I Sweet Sixteen Qualifiers last year.
Sunday night proved to be very enjoyable as part of the group went and rode the "Big Shot" on the Stratosphere, 120 stories above the Nevada Desert.
Final thoughts. Las Vegas RFC put on the most well-run tournament I`ve ever seen. With over 80 teams, all of our games started on time. Their facilities were fine, and the merchandise designs were good. LVRFC could improve their scheduling, mark the fields better, and provide a more traditional party, and improve the tournament greatly.
Keith Dalton 2, 3
Mike Szmanski 1
John McLaury 1, 2
Al Zwanenburg 3
Buddy Taylor 4
Trey Harlin 5, 8
John Via 5, 8
Dan Morgan 6
Bots Hulen 7
Kevin Pierce 9
James Walters 10
Darrin Barner 11
Charlie Burgess 12
Theo Van Wyk 13
Nick Betts 14
Guy Manning 14
Dan Rosen 15
[Bots Hulen 4/10/97]
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