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Jesuit stops Warrior ruggers in state championship

The Fallbrook Rugby Club reached the state championship match between the Southern California Youth Rugby League and Northern California Youth Rugby League champions before losing to Jesuit High School of Carmichael for the second consecutive year.

Jesuit, which also won the national under-19 club championship in 2009 as well as in 2008 and 2007, defeated Fallbrook by a 21-0 score in the May 15 match played at the Golden Gate Rugby Club field on Treasure Island.

“The final score definitely did not indicate how close the match was and how physical the match was,” said Fallbrook coach Mike Majewski. “We were in it from the opening kickoff.”

Jesuit led 10-0 at halftime. Late in the first half Fallbrook drew a yellow card, which forced the Warriors to play a man short for 10 minutes. The Warriors drew another yellow card in the second half. “We played 20 minutes out of that 70-minute match with 14 guys,” Majewski said.

“Our whole team played really well,” Majewski said. “Just couldn’t get the ball in the try zone.”

Jesuit has a year-round rugby program with paid coaches. Last year, when the championship game was played at Fallbrook High School, Jesuit led 42-0 at halftime and earned the championship with a 52-12 win.

Rugby is not a CIF sport, but the Fallbrook Rugby Club has a high school boys team that plays both in a high school league and in under-19 club tournament competition. The spring 2009 high school and club seasons overlapped, but for 2009-10 the high school league mirrored the CIF Winter sports season while club competition began in February. Fallbrook won the Southern California high school championship to earn the trip to the state championship match.

The Southern California Rugby Football Union and the Pacific Coast Rugby Football Union, which includes Northern California as well as Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Nevada, collaborated to form a statewide Rugby California organization, which sanctions youth rugby throughout the state. Both the high school league and club competition are sanctioned by Rugby California.

The viewers of this year’s state championship match included selectors for the Eagles, USA Rugby’s under-20 national team, and after the match they asked Majewski about Fallbrook senior John Hayden. “John Hayden looked like a man playing with boys out there,” Majewski said.

Hayden plans to play rugby for Fullerton State next year, although his collegiate play would not conflict with national team activity.

Fallbrook won all five of its games during the high school season, including a victory over the L.A. Cougars team which defeated Fallbrook in last year’s tournament playoff. During the club season the Warriors won all eight of their games. Fallbrook’s match prior to the state championship was a win three weeks earlier over the University of San Diego team at USD.

“We did avenge some losses from last year, but until we beat Jesuit we’ve got a lot of unfinished business left,” Majewski said.

Fallbrook’s under-19 team was in its third year of play. The Warriors have now competed in both state championship matches. “We’re pretty happy with that,” Majewski said.

Reaching the state finals creates a new goal for the Warriors. “There comes a time when you’re not happy (just) getting there any more. You want to win it,” Majewski said.

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