Women’s rugby smashes SUU in shutout

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The third time was not the charm for Southern Utah University’s women’s rugby in its third game against Dixie State University Saturday Nov. 21.

DSU dominated SUU in a shutout game ending 55-0.

DSU team captain Dallas Mckee said the team was able to focus more on conditioning this last week of practice, and it helped DSU run the score against SUU.  

“In the games past, we were focused more on skills, but now that we have built some of those skills, the extra running in practice is what kept us in the game,” Mckee said.

Vika Havili, a senior integrated studies from Glendale, gave DSU a strong start, scoring two tries in ten minutes.

SUU didn’t push its way over the rucks in the first half, which allowed DSU to run the ball and the score with five more tries. SUU’s defense started playing a little more aggressively before the half ended, which created an opportunity for SUU at its goal line, but they lost the ball to DSU, which resulted in DSU scoring a try. The half ended 35-0.

DSU’s coaches warned players not to get comfortable with the lead, reminding DSU of the close second half it played in the last game against SUU.

“We just had it in our heads [to hold SUU] because in [our] last game, we just kind of let things go,” Mckee said.

 The team aimed to shutout SUU and to slow things down a bit and take care of the ball, Havili said.

SUU carried over its aggressive play into the second half. DSU handled SUU with a quick try on a won scrum 15 minutes in.  

The teams wrestled back and forth with the ball up and down the field until Havili capitalized on a knock-on by SUU for a try.

Tanner Quinto, a freshman general education major from La Habra, California, used DSU’s momentum to win a ruck shortly after the kickoff and scored another try for DSU five minutes later, which was her third try of the game.

Both teams played tough but had a hard time taking care of the ball. They exchanged the ball, sharing multiple turnovers with challenged rucks, out of bound tosses, knock-ons and scrums.  

Extra aggressive defense was seen by DSU as SUU approached its goal line multiple times, but DSU held its defense, leaving SUU scoreless on the other side of its line. Mckee scored DSU’s final try of the game, 55-0.

Mckee finished the game with three tries, Havili with four tries, Tanner with three tries, and Alexis Romero, a junior, scored her first try of the season.

Ashlee Lee, SUU’s captain, coach and a senior psychology and nutrition major from Genola, said SUU had done a better job of DSU popping up instead of falling into rucks, but SUU didn’t hold its position, costing them the game.

“We need to be able to communicate not as one person, but as whole team,” Lee said.

Head coach Michael Matalolo said DSU’s forwards did a lot better job staying in their lanes to score rather than running sideways. He said the backline still needs to work on getting the ball out faster, but he was happy the women proved what they could do.


Rugby jargon

Knock-on: When the ball is accidentally mishandled and knocked or passed forward by a player from the waist up. In rugby, the ball may only be passed backward or sideways.

Penalties: The two most common penalties in rugby are when a player doesn’t release the ball after being tackled and when the other team tries to steal the ball by not going over the ruck, but around the sides. Some penalties, but not all penalties, are resolved in a scrum.

Scrum: Similar to the line of scrimmage in football; however, scrums don’t happen at the beginning of every play, they only happen after a penalty or a knock-on. Each team has a “hooker” who fights to hook the ball with their feet in order to push the ball to back of their scrum half and put the ball in play.

Ruck: When a player is tackled and needs to protect the ball to keep possession, he or she must fall to the ground and release the ball on the ground back to their team. The teammates then try to build a bridge-like structure to protect the ball, so the other team cannot steal it over the top of the ruck.