Last Saturday Phoenix played a Georgia All Star Selection in two exhibition 7 a side games at the Cobb Classic football games at McEachern Stadium in Powder Springs. This was an opportunity to showcase rugby at half time to a large crowd attending the annual football games.The first game was a spirited affair with Phoenix dominating both territory and possession. Due to a comparatively small player roster, Phoenix only brought 12 players while the All Star Selection had over 22, our boys fitness would clearly be tested to the full in this 14 minute non-stop encounter. Phoenix opened with a well worked try in the corner from Chandler Cox with Lechandt Opperman narrowly missing the difficult drop goal conversion. It would be the only conversion that Lechandt would miss on the day. Phoenix continued to press their territory advantage and it was rewarded with another nice try from Ruann Meyer. Fatigue was becoming a factor and the All Stars responded with a breakaway try before Phoenix restored their 2 x try advantage with a strong effort from our captain, Tyler Simpson. The game became exciting toward the end when the All Stars scored another breakaway try to bring them within one score of the Phoenix. The game was saved however by a try saving open field tackle from Lechandt Opperman to save the day and secure another great Phoenix victory. The organizers awarded Chandler Cox with the Man of the match award following the game — well done Chandler, well deserved.
The second game promised to be even more challenging than the first with Garrick Glaudin, who had played very well in the first game, being unavailable for the second encounter due to work commitments. In addition, both Chandler Cox and Joe Lynch were nursing injuries but elected to play — more of the Phoenix Rugby spirit! The game began in similar pattern to the first with Tanner Simpson dotting down for a terrific try in the first minute. Again, Lechandt converted the drop goal conversion to make it 7 to 0 in favor of Phoenix. The team continued to press and the game really turned on a play in the fifth minute. Chandler Cox looked sure to score in the corner when he was tackled into touch. No score but worse was to come in that Cox had incurred a leg injury and was unable to continue. Both Joe Lynch and Lechandt were by now walking wounded and we began to tire and, as a result, to miss those all- important tackles. The final score was Phoenix 7 : All Stars 19 but it was a very good performance by our boys under difficult circumstances. Tyler Simpson was honored by the organizers with the Man of the Match award —- a very nice accomplishment in his last game wearing a Phoenix jersey. Best of luck at BYU Tyler, you have served Phoenix Rugby well and will be sorely missed.
All in all this was a good day for the Phoenix in splitting the two games. More importantly, we put on a good showcase for rugby to an audience that would not typically be exposed to our sport. A big thank you to all of our players on the day. In particular Tam Doan, who made his Phoenix debut. We now enter January with a very competitive set of fixtures against Charlotte Tigers, Chapin, Greenville and Southern Pines followed by our GHSRA Georgia matrix games with Pope, Lassiter, Mill Creek, Norsemen, Roswell, Oconee and Lambert.
Exciting times ahead for Phoenix Rugby.Niall Fenton President Phoenix Rugby