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Photo courtesy of Tamara Tidey

2015 State Finals Wrap Up - Classic Games All Around!

By Sam DiFilippo, 06/01/15, 9:00PM EDT


Sixteen teams and one thousand fans gathered at the Moose Rugby Grounds in Elkhart, Indiana on May 30 to watch the Rugby Indiana State Finals. The day was wet and dreary but that just made the rugby shine brighter. We avoided lightning until the minute we passed out the last trophy, the host club Penn did a great job monitoring the weather and making sure teams were safe and taken care of throughout the day.

The day began with the Division II boys final between Pike and Carroll. This game stood up to the hype for sure, both teams spent the season dominating opponents and putting up great scores. Pike was able to match up well against Carroll’s crafty offense, and Carroll was able to slow down Pike’s powerful runners. In the end Carroll was able to score around the corners and they were victorious 15-7, Strongside win Derek Longenberger from Carroll was named the game’s most valuable player.

The Division I JV final was to be decided between Bishop Dwenger and 2014 JV champs Hamilton Southeastern. After defeating Fishers in the semi finals 35-0 the Saints headed to Elkhart to take on Hamilton Southeastern whom they had tied 5-5 in a shortened game earlier in the season. Dwenger played defense for most of the first half, but they stayed strong the whole match not allowing HSE to score even when they were on the goal line. Scoring for the Saint was led by Isaac Tippmann who kicked for two penalties and a conversion. Bart Tippmann scored the first try of the game with a gritty run through defenders, and Simon Perez added the second try with a 60 meter breakaway in the second half. Dwenger won 18-0.

The Boys Division I finals was a backyard brawl that was taken north. Fishers versus Hamilton Southeastern. A great community of rugby players put on a great show for sixty minutes. HSE won the regular season matchup 30-28, however this matchup would not be the shootout we had planned on. Fishers batted back and forth for possession in the first half and was able to score on a beautifully chased down kick that was offloaded for a try. Just minutes later Royals outside center Tyler Janney latched onto a loose pass and rumbled 40 meters for a try. HSE would convert the try and the game was grinded out to a 7-5 victory for Hamilton Southeastern. Janney was named the games MVP.

In the Super League JV game a slew of sophomores and freshman who will be the future stars of the super league. Penn came out strong on offense and took the Royal Irish by surprise with some quick ball movement. Both young sides made errors throughout the game, but were able to keep things close for a while. In the end, Penn walked away with a 33-14 victory.

The boys 7/8th grade final was between undefeated Broad Ripple and Penn, whose only loss was to Broad Ripple earlier in the season. Both teams demonstrated a level of rugby you’d expect to see in a high school match. Penn played some great ball from set pieces and Broad Ripples backline was well coached to perform at this level. Penn kept it very close at the end, but was unable to match Broad Ripple’s second score. Broad Ripple won 12-5.

The 5/6th grade final between an undefeated Broad Ripple and Brownsburg whose only loss was to Broad Ripple earlier in the season. Brownsburg came ready to play and put the first points up, Broad Ripple answered back quickly. The match was filled with some great tackles and breakaways. Broad Ripple won 42-10.

The girls state final was a faceoff between perennial powerhouse North Central and scoring juggernaut Penn. North Central has won the last six state championships, and Penn was prepared to challenge them before they may it seven straight. Penn came out to an early lead, with two scores from Cat Gearhart. North Central found their rhythm after halftime and the scores started to come more easily. Both teams brought a championship effort and it was one of the most challenging game NC has had this season. North Central walked away with their tenth state title with a 32-17 victory. Senior 8-man Yami Hernandez was named the game’s most valuable player.

The main event for the day was a rematch of last year’s super league varsity final where the Royal Irish bested Penn 5-3. This was had classic written all over it before it even started. Penn started the season off with a victory at the Lindenwood tournament, but struggled at Nationals. The Royal Irish won their third national title in four years this season. Both rosters are flooded with stars and earlier this season they battled in the mud and the Royal Irish won 12-3.

Penn came out firing on all cylinders, and the Royal Irish were ready for the challenge. Penn scored two quick tries in the first half and took a 12-0 lead. The Royal Irish countered with some great set piece plays and made it 12-12 before half. The game was capstoned by some moxie from both fly halves, All American Brian Hannon and Harry Stevens. Just before half senior 8-man Inoke Moala scored on a pick from a scrum, the try was converted by Stevens and Penn took a 19-12 lead into halftime. In the second half Penn’s defense showed up very nicely, the Royal Irish were turned away a few times and couldn’t get their kicking game going with the strong winds that had arrived. Brian Hannon was able to battle a sore knee to give the Royal Irish one more score in the second half, but the conversion sailed wide right and the score would stick 19-17. Inoke Moala was named the game’s most valuable player. Both these teams set the gold standard for high school rugby in this country and this game proved why the Rugby Indiana Super League is the toughest division in the US.

All the players, coaches, referees, and fans worked hard this year to give us the respect, integrity, passion, discipline, and solidarity this game deserves. Thank you for another great season!!!

Super League Varsity
Royal Irish HS Boys 17
Penn HS Boys 19
MVP: Inoke Moala

Super League JV
Royal Irish HS Boys 14
Penn HS Boys 33

DI Girls
North Central HS Girls 32
Penn HS Girls 17
MVP: Yami Hernandez

DI Boys Varsity
HSE HS Boys 7
Fishers HS Boys 5
MVP: Tyler Janney

DI Boys JV
HSE HS Boys 0
Bishop Dwenger HS Boys 18

DII Boys
Pike HS Boys 7
Carroll HS Boys 15
MVP: Derek Longenberger

7/8 grade boys
Broad Ripple 12
Penn 5

5/6 grade
Broad Ripple 42
Brownsburg 10

[Photo courtesy of Tamara Tidey]