Santa Monica Rugby Club U18 Boys won the High School Division of the Dennis Storer Classic Tournament this past weekend at UCLA. Santa Monica went unbeaten in five matches against some of the top teams in California.
On Saturday morning Santa Monica won the first game of the tournament, 29-0, against a spirited San Francisco Golden Gate team. Santa Monica led 10-0 at halftime with excellent tries from Conor Lydon and Evan Clark. In the second half Santa Monica pulled away to win 29-0 following further tries from Lydon, Parker Lynch and Kevin Inoue and two conversions from Alex Walsh.
The most anticipated game of the tournament took place on Saturday afternoon when Santa Monica beat the nationally ranked (#5) Danville Oaks from Northern California, 15-14. The game lived up to expectations and was watched by HSAA Varsity Coach Salty Thompson and Cal Berkeley Head Coach Jack Clark.
It was a battle of the forwards and Santa Monica came out on top thanks to their unwavering defense, and towering lineout domination by jumper Conor Lydon, excellent game control by scrumhalf Clark and flyhalf Walsh and the sure boot of Kieran Kerwin (who gave Santa Monica its early lead).
The match-winning try was delivered by Conor Lydon with a strong darting run and a powerful carry over the Danville line. Danville came back strong with 8 minutes remaining in the game and pounced on a loose ball for a try following a handling error by Santa Monica. On the restart Alex Walsh pinned the Danville team deep in their end with a superb drop-kick restart. With Willy Hock and the rest of the Santa Monica team controlling possession for the nail-biting final few minutes, Santa Monica held on for deserved victory over the nationally ranked Danville.
On Sunday, Santa Monica went on to win three more games against highly ranked teams from Northern California to complete an unbeaten weekend:
• North Bay 24-7 vs North Bay with tries from Joseph Ekpo, Ian Jost, Benny Gonda, and Tom Heaney; and two conversions from Alex Walsh
• PITS Piedmont 15-0 vs PITS Piedmont with tries from Dante Smith, Oscar Ockomichalak and Christian Davis.
• 24-15 vs Lamorinda with tries from Willy Hock, Cormac Heaney, Conor Lydon and Adam Hernando and two conversions from Alex Walsh.
Santa Monica U18 Head Coach Charlie Lydon was very complimentary of the UCLA tournament organizers. “Scott Stewart and his team at UCLA put on a topclass tournament with excellent free flowing, high level rugby played on their wonderful campus. Our boys are exhausted but elated after five tough games over tw days and every member of our squad played a full game – seven boys played their first full game of rugby this weekend and now understand why rugby is the best team sport in the world!”
On a related note, SMRC’s Evan Clark and Alex Walsh were invited by Thompson to represent the USA Rugby National Team (High School All Americans) this week at the Las Vegas Invitational rugby tournament. Besides being selected to the So Cal Griffins (representative side) the last two years, Clark and Walsh recently spent ten days in Phoenix at the HSAA Winter Camp with teammates Conor Lydon, Olan Moon-White, and Benny Gonda. SMRC had more players represented than any other club in the country.