Boston Irish Wolfhounds Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh 2003

The Boston Irish "Wolfhounds" upset San Mateo to win their first US Rugby National Division I Championship.

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June 1 : The final of the US Men's Rugby National Division I Championship was held in perfect weather at Founders Field, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The final featured San Mateo, California looking for their third championship in a row and the rising star of the Boston Irish Wolfhounds. In 10 short years it has reached the Final Fours of this years elite Championship. The "Wolfhounds" as they are affectionately known made history by being the first North East US club to ever win this prestigious national title.

The game started fast and furious with the Wolfhounds establishing their authority in the forward play much to the surprise of San Mateo and the crowd. After six minutes wing forward Ed Kos got the games first try after some sustained Wolfhound pressure to make it 5-0. Fifteen minutes into the first half the San Mateo conceded a penalty after some powerful forward driving and control by the Wolfhounds. Scrum half Dave Williams took the three points to make it 8-0 for the Wolfhounds. At this point in the game it was all too apparent that San Mateo was having serious problems up front in the forwards, especially in the set piece scrums. The experienced San Mateo's pack which included a former US Eagles number 8 was driven back repeatedly on their own put in which further charged up the Wolfhounds.

San Mateo tried to spread it out wide among their backs to counter the pressure their forwards were under. Their decision to run two penalties in the 20th & 23rd minutes rather than "take their 3 points" was a gamble at best considering the pressure they were absorbing. The first penalty saw Wolfhound captain Jason Rose make a magnificent try saving tackle to prevent San Mateo from getting their first try. The second saw an explosive smoother tackle by Ed Kos to stop a certain try. The Wolfhounds cleared their lines and ran the ball up the middle of the field and were rewarded a penalty when San Mateo tried to kill the ball, Williams coolly took the three points to make it 11-0. San Mateo were looking to establish a game pattern but the dominance of the Wolfhounds pack never really gave them much space. In the 30th minute and from 50 yards out John Dalton hit a huge drop goal to make it 14-0 to finish the first half.

The second half saw San Mateo the defending Champions put some strong rolling mauls together in an effort to get their speedy backs more involved in the game. The Wolfhounds were on the defensive for much of the first 15 minutes of the second half. In the 17th minute San Mateo was rewarded with a try scored by winger Josese Savali to make it 14-5 Wolfhounds. If San Mateo scored another try after this then the game's outcome may have been different. But consistent with their first half forward dominance the Wolfhounds put down any gains by San Mateo. After some sustained Wolfhound pressure by number 8 Vic Vela was denied his try just a yard shy of the line in the 30th minute. San Mateo continued to run at the Wolfhounds but could not penetrate their defense. And so the final result 14-5 saw the Wolfhounds take the title in emphatic fashion leaving no doubt as to who would hoist the Championship. David Williams (Boston) was awarded the honor of Most Valuable Player for the Division I Championships match.

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