Warrior rugby squad topples ‘Goliath’ East team to earn state championship

SC Warriors at the state tournament. | Photo courtesy Cambria Horlacher Hauck

SALT LAKE CITY — Outsized at virtually every position, Snow Canyon’s speedy rugby squad decided to learn a lesson from a famous Bible story Saturday.

Playing the part of David against the Philistines’ mighty Goliath, the Warriors slew powerful East and is hoisting the 2014 Single School state championship after a 34-29 victory at the Ute Soccer Field.

SC Warriors at the state tournament. | Photo courtesy Cambria Horlacher Hauck
SC Warriors at the state tournament. | Photo courtesy Cambria Horlacher Hauck

“Everyone knows how that story ends,” SC co-coach Michael Puriri said. “The boys never gave up. It would have been easy for them to get psyched out by how big those guys were.”

Using an impressive passing and speed game, Snow Canyon rushed out to a 26-7 halftime advantage and looked to be cruising toward the state title after successful tries by Richard Anderson, Sam Silvers and Connor Parry.

But the second half started badly, with a bobble deep in SC territory. A quick score made it 26-12. Two more tries sandwiched around an SC penalty kick closed the gap to 29-22.

“East scored three tries in a row against us, but the boys didn’t quit,” Puriri said. “It was like this was their destiny. No matter how big and strong the other teams we play are, our Snow Canyon boys hve bigger hearts. They’ve worked so hard for this.”

The tight battle came down to the last couple of minutes, but Richmond Anderson thrilled the big Snow Canyon crowd by putting the Warriors ahead 34-22 with a try with 2:09 left to play.

SC Warriors at the state tournament. | Photo courtesy Cambria Horlacher Hauck
SC Warriors at the state tournament. | Photo courtesy Cambria Horlacher Hauck

East scored a try just before time expired to make the final score a bit closer.

“I didn’t get a Gatorade bath until after the final whistle,” co-coach Jay Day said. “None of us wanted to assume anything. One of the things we did in this game is to bring back the old Snow Canyon mantra ‘Touch gold.’ If anyone started to head down the wrong path, away from our game plan, those were our code words to help us remember to stay focused and be top rate for our fans, school and families.”

SC had placed in the top four in each of the past three years, including last year’s runner-up finish vs. Herriman. But this time, the Warriors finished the job.

“We were surprised East beat Herriman in the semifinals and quite honestly, we had been preparing for Herriman,” Day said. “So we had to go to our contingency plan when East won. And they’re so big, they’re hard to prepare for.”

Puriri, who credits the win to his team’s persistence and fitness, said it was a perfect result.

SC Warriors at the state tournament. | Photo courtesy Cambria Horlacher Hauck
SC Warriors at the state tournament. | Photo courtesy Cambria Horlacher Hauck

“You’ve got to love the David and Goliath story, even if everyone knows how it ends,” he said. “We had a great season and I am sad to see it end. We played some great teams and our boys always cinched it up and met the challenge.”

Snow Canyon finishes the season undefeated at 9-0-1 and with a gold trophy to show for its efforts.

Utah Youth Rugby Site

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Twitter: @oldschoolag

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2014, all rights reserved.

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2 Comments

  • Joanna May 18, 2014 at 7:50 pm

    I barely know anything about rugby but I’ve always heard how good the SC team is. Congrats!

  • Marissa and Doug May 18, 2014 at 8:55 pm

    Congratulations guys!!!! we watched this team when they played against Torrey Pines High School in California. The boys are amazing. Glad to have met the team and our expat Kiwi coach…Kia Kaha!

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