The Pelham seventh-eighth grade tackle rugby team Saturday beat Union, the reigning New Jersey state champs and considered the best u-15 team in the northeast, while the sixth-seventh graders lost to Lycée Francais.
The seventh-eighth grade squad played a fantastic game to avenge a 40-0 loss from last spring. Pelham was led by co-captains Kees Huisman and Matt Biskup. Right off the opening whistle, Pelham jumped to an early 5-0 lead on a strong run by Xavier Worsley followed by Whit Johnson. The team then went ahead 10-0 on strong defense by Dan Biskup, Matt Biskup and North Westall. The entire team played stellar defense the entire game to shut down Union and not allow attacks by the opposition.
Eventually, Union scored off a lineout on the Pelham five-meter line. Looking to score again, Union’s gigantic No. 8 picked up from the side of a ruck and started running down the sideline with just Matt Rabinowitz between him and the goal line. The No. 8 had a support player on his outside, but in a move he would come to regret, he tried to run over Rabinowitz, who stood his ground and tackled the much bigger player to the ground and then stole the ball. Pelham capitalized on the ensuing scrum down to have Matt Biskup pick the ball up at the back and dart down the field. He was caught, but Pelham supported and eventually scored, going up 15-5, the score at half time.
Showing why he was appointed co-captain, Huisman made three game saving tackles on Union’s fastest player. Each time, Union got the ball to their winger, who streaked to the outside trying to get around the Pelham defense. But as he came around the corner and turned up field, Kees streaked after him, and in brilliant open-field tackling, hauled down the Union speedster. Showing some resilience, Pelham scored again early in the second half to go up 20-10. Eventually, Union tallied on a penalty play to set up a very exciting climax. Thanks to the stellar defense of Pelham, the game ended with Pelham up 20-15. Playing for both the sixth-seventh and the seventh-eighth teams were Quinn Scanlon, Alex Calder and Jack Weyndling. Despite having already played a game, those three players stepped right into the game and showed no let down, tackling and running as if they just arrived. No “Man of the Match” was awarded because every player contributed to the win.
Roster: Quinn Scanlon, Xavier Worsely, Jack Weyndling, Alex Calder, Nick Roll, Matt Biskup (c), Dan Biskup, Matt Rabinowitz, Jake Soifer, North Westall, James Cahill, Kees Huisman (c) and Whit Johnson.
Roster: Sofia Imperato, Jack Fronce, Luke Persanis, Jack Weyndling, Quinn Scanlon, Quinn Jenkins, Duffy Doyle, Jean Vigroux, Alex Calder, Chris Davis, Alejandro Kahaner, Coner McNulty, Tamio Shibasaki, Aiden Sisk, Cameron Ward and Woods Johnson.