Injuries and a short-handed Gators rugby club led to a blowout by the University of Nevada-Reno Wolf Pack in a 97-10 trouncing Saturday at the Pollicita Middle School soccer field in Daly City. Inexperience, the Wolf Pack’s size and simply not having enough bodies were just too much for the Gators to contend with.
“We knew we were gonna have a tough season with the numbers we have and the experience we have,” Gators head coach Wade Hess said. SF State came into the game at a disadvantage, having only 15 players dressed, leaving no substitutes for the 80-minute game.
Rugby is a physical game and it didn’t take long for the Gators’ modest numbers to show wear. Midway through the first half, freshman fullback Trey Dixon had to sit for the remainder of the half and the Gators endured with just 14 players against a Wolf Pack squad that brought at least five substitutes.
“It’s hard to play a full 80-minute game with no subs,” senior Gators forward and team president Victor Mendez said. “If someone gets injured, if someone is too tired to play, it really shows on the field. It’s a weakness, and good teams, like Nevada today, spotted those weaknesses.” Dixon came back in the second half, but the Wolf Pack built themselves a massive lead by then.
After bringing the hammer against the Spartans last week, the Gators just could not match the Wolf Pack’s physicality in the first half. The visibly bigger squad ran through the Gators tackle attempts and took advantage of the scrums en route to a 39-0 first-half lead. It didn’t help the Gators that their ball-control problems persisted against the Wolf Pack, but unlike the Spartans, the Wolf Pack took advantage of the turnovers and trucked their way to eight tries in the first half.
The second half started out sluggish for both teams, with plenty of turnovers from both sides killing momentum for any offense. The Wolf Pack let their foot off the gas pedal after amounting their giant first-half lead, leaving an opportunity for the Gators to get something going. The Gators were able to put together their first scoring possession early in the second half, keeping ball possession while moving forward off victorious scrums. That score seemed to awaken the Wolf Pack, who further buried the Gators with four more tries before senior Gators forward Mendez scored the team’s second try of the game.
The Gators’ youth and inexperience at several key positions were repeatedly taken advantage of, and it didn’t help that the bigger Wolf Pack punished their mistakes by smashing through their defensive line for try after try. Multiple greenhorn Gators continuously made mistakes against the Wolf Pack on the pitch, Hess Said, and when the Wolf Pack identified those errors, they repeatedly attacked them.
“We definitely need to work on our mistakes here,” said freshman Gators forward Victor ‘Vern’ Oregel, who scored the team’s first try. “We were really falling apart.”
The Gators have a lot to sort out after this pounding, but they go right back on the pitch Saturday, Feb. 9, hosting the Stanford Cardinal.
CORRECTION: The online version incorrectly stated that the final score was 93-10. The Xpress regrets this error.