NM Tech’s Mens Rugby team is going to Houston. It was an 18-hour drive to California for the Tech players pre-Thanksgiving for a colossal small schools Rugby teams showdown. They took home a Pac West championship with a narrow 1 point win over the California Maritime Keelhaulers 21-20.
Before the Saturday showdown, the Tech players rested after their drive Thursday to the stadium in Vallejo, Calif. Head coach Geroid Dunbar made sure to get the Miners up early for a Friday practice on the opponents’ field.
“You see it clearly how much differently a rugby ball bounces on turf,” Dunbar said. “Things feel different and I wanted the guys to have a chance to get used to that. Get a feel for the field.”
Kickoff for the playoff game took place at 1:30 p.m. on November 20. On the way up, Dunbar stressed team unity and wanted the group to relax before turning on the greenlight Saturday.
“Friday was when I had to get the guys switched on,” he said. “From that point, me and the team captains had to keep the guys locked in. Our team brought everything we were going to need in order to compete both equipment wise as well as mentally.”
From the start, Miners players were fired up, dragging off a player during a tackle on the field. Things were back and forth with a tight 10-10 score at halftime. The major turning point was when two Tech players got sent off the field for infringement which had Maritime going for a score. Luis Silva stole the ball and bought time for the visiting team.
Down by two with less than a minute left, the Miners needed a score and a kick going through the uprights would seal the game for the team.
This is the first time Tech has faced this opponent.
“That team is certainly more experienced than us,” Dunbar said. “But at the end of the day our guys just wanted it more. Our offense wasn’t great and the boys know that but our defense was brilliant. It was like Trojan style work. Now that we’re heading to Houston we’re not to change much. Don’t fix what isn’t broken is my mentality.”
It is yet to be determined who the Miners will face in the national championships coming up next weekend in Houston.