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The High School All Americans have established a way to play rugby.
Started in South Africa, and developed in their spring trip to England, and now honed in South America, they combine an intensity in contact reminiscent of other Pacific nations, and a refined organization nurtured in high schools around the country.
Certainly on Sunday their physicality in defense made the Chile U19s think twice. On Wednesday, it made them not want to do much of anything.
The HSAA team ran out to a 36-3 lead in the first half and cruised 45-15. Not only were they teeth-rattling on defense, but their intensity at the breakdown made the offense click much better than it did on Sunday.
The team worked on its set piece, and producing quick ball from the rucks, said assistant coach Paule Barford, and that set the platform for six American tries. Chile could not keep up with the intensity and pace of the HSAA game.
Gonzaga sophomore Ben Cima was outstanding at flyhalf.
“Ben has a lot of skill and poise for a younger flyhalf,” said Head Coach Salty Thompson before the tour. And so he showed.
No. 8 Ben Luvender from the Katy Barbarians in Texas was all kinds of trouble for the Condors.
But, interestingly, the tone of the game was set by little wing Nu’u Aiava. The Keauka’a Sharks player from Hawaii helped set the tone in the first game with two tries. This time, it was his defense, as he flattened his opposite in a crunching tackle early, and sent a message Chile couldn’t forget.
Aggressive, powerful, but keeping it clean, the High School All Americans seem to have learned an important lesson in how to play rugby at the international level. You cannot back down, and things go well when you make the other guys back down.
They will need this attitude in the next week as they face Uruguay twice.