BHSAAs improve to 1-1 on JV Tour

LIEGE, Belgium – The Boys High School All-Americans won the second match of their JV Tour to Europe Saturday, a 31-8 defeat of Belgium’s under-17s at University of Liège.

The victory comes just four days removed from a tour-opening loss to France’s under-17s, in which a red and yellow card in the final 15 minutes allowed the host to embellish a 65-6 win.

“They were a better team, a polished group,” BHSAA Head Coach Salty Thompson said. “We expected that and that was the point in playing these guys.

“I think it was an eye-opener. It enlightens our kids to a level of rugby they’d never see domestically. By doing that it really benefits those that have the capabilities to move upwards.”

Thompson changed all but four players in Saturday’s starting XV, utilizing the 28-man travel squad that arrived in Paris a week ago. Both benches used an extended 26-player bench for the match.

“The focus is on development, so when you bring 28 players you want to give every kid the opportunity to show, to do his best,” Thompson said. “We believe that these players will get better given the opportunity or we wouldn’t have brought them, so we’re going to give them the chance to play.”

The BHSAAs, sponsored by Aircraft Charter Solutions, started the match slowly with unforced errors in wet conditions. Belgium took a 12th-minute lead with a penalty kick and shut down BHSAA attacks with multiple interceptions, and it was not until the final 10 minutes of the half the BHSAAs were able to control possession. Marcos Young gave his team its just reward in the 35th minute with a try.

Evan Holm kept the lead intact at the break with a try-saving chase and tackle. Substitutes at scrum half and lock propelled the BHSAAs to a dominant second half.

Leki Fotu’s try in the 49th minute, with Anton Grigoriou’s conversion, extended the lead to 12-3. Three additional changes before the 55th minute gave the BHSAAs an extra boost, resulting in tries from Holm and Ruben de Haas for a 24-3 lead.

Belgium scored its only try of the match in the 70th minute, and Mika Kruse capped the victory with a try two minutes from time to bring the final score to 31-8.

The BHSAAs finish their tour of Europe with a rematch against Belgium Tuesday, April 8.

USA Rugby Boys High School All-Americans | Belgium
1. Dillon Shotwell (Dowling @ 62')
2. Maxwell Nail (Andrade @ 49')
3. Nathan Watts
4. Liam Jimmons
5. Leki Fotu
6. Jack White (Abbott @ 40')
7. Zach Keisterkamp
8. Sosefo Mailangi-Ray (Tavai @ 61') (Crilly @ 62')
9. Soh Nakayama (de Haas @ 40')
10. Marcos Young (James @ 73')
11. Sim Mander
12. Quinn Perry (Kruse @ 51')
13. William Vakalahi (Tonga @ 51')
14. Evan Holm
15. Anton Grigoriou

USA Rugby Boys High School All-Americans | Reserves
16. Keanu Andrade
17. David Ainuu
18. Ian Abbott
19. Ian Crilly
20. Ruben de Haas
21. Sean Dowling
22. Beau Falco
23. Ryan James
24. Mikaele Kruse
25. Justus Tavai
26. Tomasi Tonga