By Sara E. Martin, Army Flier Staff WriterJanuary 31, 2013
FORT RUCKER, Ala. (January 31, 2013) -- The first unofficial game of the rugby season set the stage for a successful season as it pinned the Fort Rucker Fliers against the Panama City Hurricanes, but the two teams will combine during the official season to create the perfect storm.
The inter-scrimmage match held Jan. 26 at the Fort Rucker Rugby Field was the first time the teams held a full game where the team's players could fully test each other's skills.
The teams combining has nothing to do with poor skill, but to strengthen the teams as a whole, according to Tim Commerford, civilian at 110th Aviation Brigade.
"Each team has enough players to form their own teams, technically, but we can't interchange players after the second quarter, which is traditionally done so new, fresh players can enter the game. So we are combining," he said.
The match began with both teams in high spirits and a dash of friendly competition.
After a hard-fought battle for the ball, many close calls for the first try and three nasty tackles on both teams the Hurricanes drove the ball down field to secure the games first try. The following successful conversion kick brought the score to 7-0.
Possession quickly passed between players and the ball constantly moved up and down the field.
As the last seconds of the first quarter slipped away, the Fliers attempted to make a try by gaining possession of the ball in a scrum. But, as the team's forwards locked together the clock ran out.
At the end of the first quarter in order to promote cohesion between the two teams, some players switched jerseys and played on the opposite team so the teams could intermingle and learn each other's strengths and weaknesses.
After the restart both teams gained ground on the pitch but knock-on after knock-on was dealt with neither team gaining ground.
The Fliers decided, with just seconds before the end of the second quarter, to try to kick the ball for a drop goal. They were able to get up on the scoreboard with three points.
The newly formed teams in the third quarter pushed each other just as hard as in the first half with fierce brawling over the ball. The Fliers weren't ready to be blown away by the Hurricanes' force and put up a good fight, but in the end the Hurricanes made another successful try and conversion kick halfway through the quarter.
The Hurricanes began to pick up speed when Grady Marsh of Panama City was able to take the ball all the way down the field soon after, and scored another try and conversion for the Hurricanes; bringing the score to 21-3.
The Hurricanes were not done, a Fort Rucker Flier playing as a Hurricane gained possession after a ruck and was able to cushion the Hurricanes lead over the Fliers by making another try and conversion.
The Fliers were determined to close the gap between the two teams. Over and over they made it past the 5-meter line without making a try. When hope almost seemed lost at the end of the quarter, the Fliers' offense was able to break free of the Hurricane's force winds to make a try, but the conversion kick was unsuccessful.
The backs and the forwards traded teams for the last quarter of the game.
Possession of the ball bounced back and forth between the teams, but both held strong. Fort Rucker continued, though, to push the Hurricanes defense and was able to fly ahead in the end.
The Hurricanes soon took possession near the Fliers try line, but Fort Rucker wasn't going to give up its try so easily and fought fiercely for possession of the ball. The hard work paid off when Colin Schwalm, Headquarters Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 10th Aviation Regiment, made an aggressive move down field and made a try and a conversion kick.
Immediately after the ball was reset, the Fliers managed to run the ball into the try zone, making another successful try and conversion; bringing the score to 21-22 in favor of the Fliers.
In the last minutes of the game the players pushed each other's mental and physical limits, but the Fliers persistence paid off because they made the last try and conversion of the game; bringing the final score to 21-29.
Spirits were high between the teams and new players to the game like Spc. Neal Eaton, A Company, 1st Bn., 11th Aviation Regiment, thought the match was successful and that it was a good learning experience for new as well as experienced players.
"I think we (the two teams) worked really well together. I still have stuff to learn, but I can't wait for the season to officially start," he said.
The first home game of the season against Mobile Battleship will be Feb. 16 at a location to be announced.