Western State College hosted Regis in the inaugural Chris Norris Cup match on Saturday, March 31. The match was delayed for a little bit after the Regis team had a van breakdown outside of Denver, but that did not deter the fans from packing the sidelines to enjoy the 70 degree day and celebrate the memory of WSC alumnus Chris Norris.
After the Star Spangled Banner was played, and a moment of silence was held, Chris' Wife and daughter presented the match ball to the WSC captain.
WSC kicked off and quickly made it clear that the match was not going to be a walk through the park for either team. Within the first five minutes, WSC center Nate Acrey dodged and ran through the Regis defense for the first score of the match. Senior Conor McBrierty kicked the conversion and Western was off to a great start. WSC was unable to capitalize on possession and allowed Regis the ball with some soft turnovers from knock-ons and poor passes. Regis exposed a WSC weakness with darting kicks through the WSC backline where the wings' depth exposed pressure and some inexperience with the low ball. WSC managed to maintain the lead through the half until personnel changes meant some disrupted organization in the backs that lead to some clutch turnovers and errors. Regis remained calm and pushed the WSC attack to their own goal. In the last ten minutes and trailing by 9, WSC pushed and pushed for the last two tries for the win, but the Regis defense held firm and WSC finished on the losing end.
Both teams celebrated a great match under the posts by posing with the trophy and signing a commemorative match ball for Chris' wife and kids. After tearing down the pitch and showering up, both teams gathered for a team dinner and the awarding of the Cup and the Man of the Match Awards. The Regis Captain accepted the Cup and the Regis 8-man won the Man of the Match award for Regis. WSC prop Pat Atherton won the WSC Man of the Match award for his strong ball carrying in his second-ever rugby match.
"Although we lost the match, there were certainly plenty of positives worth celebrating and to take away from the game," says WSC Coach Greg White, "in the big picture though, the reason why we played for the Chris Norris Cup, and what it means to both of these teams now, means more than those 80 minutes and I am glad we have started a great and meaningful tradition."
Photos from the match can be ordered on photographer Thomas Rutherford's website: www.trutherfordphotography.com