Torrey Pines rugby remains perfect

Torrey Pines forward Brent Sander is brought down by two Del Norte High School players during a rugby match Jan. 14 at Del Norte High School. Photo: Aubrey Hill
Torrey Pines forward Brent Sander is brought down by two Del Norte High School players during a rugby match Jan. 14 at Del Norte High School. Photo: Aubrey Hill

By Tim Pickwell

The Torrey Pines varsity rugby team defeated Del Norte High School, 42-0, in a non-league game on Saturday, Jan. 14, played at the Nighthawk’s stadium. The Torrey Pines varsity is managed by the San Diego Youth Rugby Club “Mustangs,” and competes with 21 other teams in the Boys High School Division of the Southern California Youth Rugby Organization. Torrey Pines remains unbeaten (4-0) and nearly perfect, having outscored their opponents 210-0.

Moments after the game, veteran referee David Mason gathered both teams together at mid-field.

“Great match, boys,” he said. “Give yourselves a hand.”

He talked about his keys for success in rugby, and told the Nighthawk team, “You never quit, you played hard, and you stayed together. That will serve you well later in the season. But, today, you just ran into a better team.”

Mason is a coach and player with the Old Aztecs Rugby Club and is well respected in local rugby circles.

He nodded over to the Torrey Pines boys. “These guys have played together for a lot of years, and have a lot of experience.”

A core group of Torrey Pines/Mustangs players won the Southern California State Championship as U14’s (2008), U16’s (2010) and were the JV State Champions in 2011.

“Torrey Pines,” Mason said, looking at the players. “You could play for a national championship this year. Players one-through-15 can all handle the ball. You won the rucks, you won the scrums, you never stopped pushing. You are in good condition, now, but you will need to be in even better competition if you want to go deep in the playoffs.”

Torrey Pines was down to only 18 players (15 take the field at one time) due to the three-day MLK Holiday Weekend, and every boy got his fill of minutes. Like soccer, rugby is continuous play (35 minute halves), and each player must run, catch, pass and tackle.

The Torrey Pines squad includes Codi Jones, a senior, and Billy Maggs, a junior. The two were invited by USA Rugby to be among 74 participants from around the country at the prestigious High School All-American Camp held in Phoenix in late December. Maggs has since been selected to represent an All American 7s JV/Varsity squad at the U.S. national tournament in Las Vegas.

So, expectations are high for the Torrey Pines team, which is coached by Matty Sandoval, a former collegiate All Star at USD, and long time local youth coach.

“The boys are rounding in to form just in time for our playoff push,” said Sandoval. “But there is a lot of work to be done to accomplish our goal of the Southern California High School Varsity Championship. They have everything it takes, but it will come down to their dedication and focus.”

On Saturday against Del Norte, Torrey Pines was led by Maggs, Jones, and Andrew Fargo, a senior who is getting some looks from college for both football and rugby. Maggs scored the first two tries of the game, the first coming minutes into the match after Fargo advanced the ball with a long run. The second coming after Wing Chase Pickwell tackled and stripped a Del Norte player, and Maggs picked up the ball and outran the Nighthawk Defense. Next, outside Center Jones made a perfect pass to Pickwell who bulled in for a try to make the score 17-0. Fargo had two trys on the day, and Brian Hollenbeck, a Torrey Pines senior had another to start the second half.

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