Gonzaga College High School won the third annual Jesuit Rugby Classic Championship over No. 1 nationally ranked Xavier High School, 26-17, in Alexandria last weekend. The tournament, co-hosted by Gonzaga and Georgetown Prep, included three nationally ranked programs (Xavier, Gonzaga and McQuaid Jesuit).
Gonzaga defeated Georgetown Prep and Fairfield Prep on its way to the final and Xavier dropped Fordham Prep and McQuaid Jesuit to advance. The game started with the two heavyweights going right after each other with crash balls and forward attacks from scrums, lineouts and rucks. Xavier got on the board first with a penalty kick from 25 meters for a 3-0 advantage.
The Eagles came back with sophomore Ben Cima’s tactical kicking for territorial gains. A scrum 15 meters from the Xavier goaline setup a try by Bayo Adebonogo on a weakside attack. Cima slotted the conversion for a 7-3 lead. After some back and forth play, the Eagles had a lineout at the Xavier 5-meter line. A driving lineout produced a try for flanker Matt Brune. Another Cima conversion made the count 14-3. On the last play of the first half, Xavier intercepted a pass in the Gonzaga backline and took it 50 meters for a try under the posts to close the deficit to 14-10.
The second half was similar to the first half with the Gonzaga forwards grinding the ball and maintaining possession to set up powerful runs by inside center Danny Flynn and wing Jace Caulfield. The forwards would reward themselves with trys by Andrew Iscaro, pushing the lead to 19-10, and Matt Flynn combined with another Cima conversion made it 26-10.
With five minutes to play, Xavier mounted a furious attack. The Eagles received a yellow card and had to play a man down. Xavier sustained pressure and attacked near the Gonzaga goaline and came away with another try bringing the count to the final scoreline of 26-17. For the Eagles, it was the third consecutive Jesuit Rugby Classic Championship each one with a victory over powerhouse Xavier in the final.
The city of Alexandria were wonderful hosts with the mayor and several city council members attending the tournament both days while providing an excellent venue. TC Williams played Eleanor Roosevelt in a curtain raiser to the final showcasing local rugby. Roosevelt won the Godek Cup 24-22 in a thrilling back-and-forth game.
Fordham Prep defeated Fairfield Prep in the third place game with McQuaid over Georgetown Prep in the fifth place game. Xavier defeated Gonzaga 15-5 in the JV final and Gonzaga defeated Xavier 24-0 in the freshman final.
Photos by Chris Newkumet