Xavier rugby rumbles its way to the top but falls to Gonzaga

Xavier’s Jimmy Wolfer earning some hard yards while keeping the ball away from a tackling opponent.

Xavier’s Jimmy Wolfer earning some hard yards while keeping the ball away from a tackling opponent.

BY DANIEL JEAN-LUBIN  |  The clock wound down to zero. It had to happen eventually. The result, a 7-26 loss for Xavier High School against Gonzaga College Prep. With the loss, Xavier’s 10-game winning streak was snapped and their reign as the top-ranked rugby program in the nation came to an end.

“It was an extremely testing match,” said Greg Norris, Xavier’s varsity rugby head coach. Although they lost in crushing fashion, Xavier’s run at the top deserves recognition.

Xavier finished the 2012 season with a 10-6-1 record, coming in third in the national high school championship tournament. This year, Coach Norris was looking to eclipse that previous record with more consistent play from his squad, especially his veterans.

Xavier began their 2012-13 season with a dominant 65-10 win on March 2 over St. Joe’s Prep at Pier 40, at West Houston St. The following week, they picked up wins over an athletic Perry Street Prep, 31-19. Then, six days later, the club got their first shut-out victory of the season with an impressive 87-0 win over the Long Island Colts.

Xavier won their next seven contests, including a record-setting 116-0 win over last year’s Rugby New York tourney champion, McQuaid Jesuit High School.

During the streak, Xavier shut out their opponents three times and outscored the competition by a total of 554-94. Coach Norris’s team also never allowed an opponent to score more than 20 points during that 10-game span.

“I would attribute the success to the sheer determination and grit of a number of the senior players,” said Norris on the team tying their last season’s win total with three games left in the season. “These players have all stood out well as the season progressed.”

Led by captain Jimmy Wolfer, this Xavier club got off to one of the best starts in their program’s storied history.

Speaking of Wolfer, Norris said, “He has truly been an excellent leader, and one who has definitely led by example.”

Xavier, which is America’s oldest high school rugby program, founded in 1969, clearly has a bright future.

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