MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- It was a cloudy and soggy day as rain fell on the pitch where the Marine Corps Rugby Team faced down the Air Force Rugby Team at the Armed Forces Ruby Tournament Championships here Oct. 27.
Air Force dominated the game beating the Marine Corps 34-3 in the 80 minute match and continued their three-year dominance of the tournament.
“We are fortunate to come away with a well-earned win,” said Lt. Col. Kenneth Holliday, head coach for the Air Force Team. “The Marine Corps never gives up. They are a fine organization.”
The playing was intense during the game with hard hits and well-played offense and defense. Most of the first half was a stalemate which ended with the Marine Corps’ Obie Coalebrook, kicking the ball through the uprights with ten minutes to go in the first half, giving the Marines a 3-0 lead.
The Air Force answered when James Hubby ran the ball across field through Marine Corps defenders for a try, putting them in the lead 5-3.
Brian Lemay brought the ball in for another try at the beginning of the second half widening the gap between them and the Marine Corps. By that time, the Air Force had picked up the momentum and scored a succession of tries and two point conversions putting the game out of reach.
“Every game is always really tough,” said Robert Giovannetti, who scored a try for the Air Force. “The games are a lot more physical and a really fierce. It feels great. We have worked hard all year. We have a great military rugby community and it is great when we are playing with them or against them.”
Even though the Air Force won the tournament it was not a complete loss for the Marine Corps, said Jack Clark, head coach for the Marine Corps team.
“I don’t think anything went wrong,” said Clark. “They came in as the favorite and they are the younger team. I think it was quite an achievement for the Marines to get to the final. They haven’t been to the final in many years and haven’t won since 1988. With deployments the way they are, this team really over achieved. We had some good looks at the Air Force try line – we just couldn’t finish them off.”
“[The Marines] are a privilege to work with,” said Clark. “These men they are the most impressive group of men I have ever met and the cut of the man is just something to behold.”
The purpose of these Armed Forces Competitions is to foster good will and competition among the armed services.
“As much as we compete against each other we are all united in what we stand for,” said Holliday. “Everyone wants to play for bragging rights. Everyone brings everything they have to this tournament.”