Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Three Players Shine During MCAA Summer Tour

With its 31-16 loss to the Ontario Blues on Saturday, the USA Rugby Men’s Collegiate All-Americans wrapped up the final game of its Summer Tour. Although the loss dropped the MCAA’s record to 2-1 (2-2 if counting the unofficial game against the College Barbarians) there were still many positives to be taken from the tour including three players who really stood out for their outstanding play.

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· Madison Hughes: No surprises here as Hughes is widely regarded as one of the top collegiate rugby players in the United States. Hughes captained the squad in all three of its matches and was the consummate team player. He also showed excellent versatility in moving all over the pitch throughout the three games, starting at the wing in the first before moving to scrumhalf for the second and finally playing fullback in the third. Although he did not reach the try zone himself, Hughes found other ways to influence the game and help the squad. He set up several tries for teammates with great runs of his own before offloading and showcased his outstanding kicking skills throughout the last two matches. Hughes also played outstanding defense throughout the tour. In the second match with Cambridge, he broke the match open for the Americans with a brilliantly timed interception that led to a try and kept the match against Ontario close with a spectacular open field tackle on what looked to be a sure try.

· Kingsley McGowan: This tour was huge for McGowan, as he reasserted himself into the minds of top rugby minds across the country. Coming off a devastating injury last year, McGowan set put to reestablish his reputation on the national scene this year and looks to have firmly accomplished that goal. He opened the scoring for the MCAAs in each of the first two matches and was at times a one-man wrecking crew on offense. In addition to his own two tries, he also had several beautiful runs through the defense, bursting through would be tacklers and twice setting up teammates for easy tries. Although there were some doubters who questioned his initial inclusion on the roster, by the end of the three matches he had silenced all of these critics and left a firm impression in the minds of all those who were watching.

· Mike Lawrenson: Coming off a great performance in the CRC in leading Kutztown to the title game of that tournament, Lawrenson picked up right where he left off. In addition to his incredible size, he stands 6’7’’, Lawrenson is an incredibly gifted athlete and he was a rock in the middle of the field throughout the tour for the MCAAs. Like McGowan and Hughes, he started all three games for the Americans and was critical to both their interior defense and their play in the scrums. He delivered several bone rattling hits against Cambridge in the second match and clearly set himself apart with his defensive ability. What truly separates Lawrenson however, is that he is not simply some big brute throwing his size around on the defensive side. He was also heavily involved in the offense as well, even scoring the go-ahead try right before halftime against Ontario.

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