Rugby is never won on paper; it is fought on the pitch with blood and sweat as needed to overcome all obstacles. Point Loma Nazarene University located in San Diego, California a member of the Gold Coast Conference and NSCRO traveled north to Palo Alto to face off against Stanford University. It was a privilege for the Sea Lions to play a storied club that’s been around since 1906. Simply put, Stanford’s grounds and clubhouse are world-class.
PLNU has less than 1,000 full-time male undergraduates and has found success on the pitch with two Final Four NSCRO Challenge Cup National Championship appearances in 2016 and 2017. Stanford plays in a USAR Division 1AA league. How would little-known PLNU do against a D1 team? This could only be determined on the battlefield as known as a rugby pitch.
The Sea Lions jumped ahead with two tries in the first half. The first score came in the early minutes when flyhalf Wyatt Trujilio kicked deep into Stanford territory. Outside center Kevin Elamri chased down the kick and scored a diving try in the corner. The Sea Lions later ran several pick-and-go’s inside the Stanford 22-meter line and were able to break through for the second try scored by flanker Zach Rohde. Stanford held possession for lengthy periods and it looked as though they would come away with points but the Sea Lion defense was up to the task, 10-0 Sea Lions at the break.
Stanford answered back early in the second half with a quick tap penalty spun wide for a nice try in the corner. Stanford later converted a pick-and-go try set up by another quick tap penalty, pulling ahead 12-10. The Sea Lions answered with a try set up by a quick tap penalty near the five-meter line. The missed conversion made it 15-12 Sea Lions. Stanford answered with their third second half try set up and scored by scrumhalf Cale Williams making it 17-15 Stanford.
With roughly five minutes on the clock, an errant pass off a PLNU line out was caught by first year player and freshman Sea Lion flanker Jackson Oehling just inside the goal line. Oehling advanced 40 meters breaking several tackles then offloaded to freshman fullback Logan Hannah who ran 60 meters untouched to pull ahead with the last try of the game. When the final whistle was sound…David stood taller than Goliath with a final score of PLNU 20, Stanford 17.
It was a balanced contest between two sides that fielded a mix of veterans and new players. Hats off to the ‘Man of the Match’ scrumhalf Cale Williams who took the field in the second half and put Stanford on the front foot with enterprising play.