The Memphis Tigers rugby team defeated the University of Alabama at Birmingham Blazers 24-21 in a junior varsity match Sept. 28.
The Blazers played their varsity team and were met with a stingy Memphis junior varsity team. Captain Musa Banat said his team played well and stuck to the game plan.
“At this point they are just honing their personal skills,” Banat said. “From a defensive aspect they did well. They played with a hunger and wanted to play with intensity.”
Parker Buras scored the first score of the game and his first try as a Tiger. Gavin Rawie later scored another try and extended the lead 10-0 in the Tigers favor. Joel Witcher scored a try and helped the Tigers secure the lead as the Blazers surged back. Banat scored again, and UAB could not answer back. Grant Caldwell was 2-for-4 for conversion kicks, and the Tigers kept the one-point victory.
The Tigers now have a combined 5-2 record. The junior varsity squad beat Sewanee, UAB and Georgia Tech junior varsity. However, they dropped their first game of the season to Vanderbilt. The varsity beat North Alabama and Georgia Tech with their only loss coming from Tennessee. The varsity has averaged 17.3 points offensively, but allowed an average of 26.3 points per game. Statistically, the varsity has a few challenges to overcome.
The Memphis roster has thinned even more after three more eligible players sidelined for the majority of the season. During the UAB game, flanker Kyle Anthony suffered a right ankle sprain after the UAB game, and freshman Trey Pettigrew injured his right knee in the UAB game and may have to sit out until he recovers. Freshman Andrew Turk, while working as a delivery driver for Domino’s Pizza, sustained injuries in a car crash in Germantown, Tennessee. Turk’s left arm was dislocated and will receive further tests to see if his arm could compromise the rest of his season.
The Memphis Tigers are scheduled to play Ole Miss on Oct. 5. It is the third scheduled SCRC game for Memphis this season. Both teams last met during the last season April 2019, when the Tigers won the three-game series and outscored the Rebels 100-12.
Senior flyhalf Brittin Roedel scored five tries that day and led the Tigers in tries scored last season. Roedel said Ole Miss is a solid team, and they can play very well.
“I think [The Rebels] are looking for revenge,” Roedel said. “We always have to come into the matches to play our best and put a hurting on whatever team comes our way. I am looking forward to another win.”
The Tigers could set themselves up with a decent standing with a win over Mississippi and enter their bye week with a decent 2-1 conference record. The Rebels are not scheduled to play another three-game series, but a varsity and junior varsity game is not off the table.
The Tigers have arranged to play SCRC opponent Auburn on Oct. 19 and SCRC opponent Mississippi State on Oct. 26. Neither games are hosted in Memphis and could prove another test to the Tigers in the following month.