Kansas City Blues at St. Louis Royals RFC
Saturday, April 24th
Legacy Park at Dardenne Greenway
5490 5th St, Cottleville, MO 63304
1:00pm: Kansas City Blues D1 vs St. Louis Royals RFC 1
3:00pm: Kansas City Blues D2 vs St. Louis Royals RFC 2
Kansas City Blues vs Kansas City RFC
Saturday, April 17th
Kansas City Blues D1 (24) vs Kansas City RFC 1 (23)
Kansas City Blues D2 (34) vs Kansas City RFC 2 (5)
Kansas City Blues vs Kansas City RFC
A Game of Two Clubs
Division 1 vs KCRFC 1
April 17th, 2021. A date written on two schedules, a box on calendars circled by supporters for months. The annual meeting of the two storied clubs of Kansas City was happening again. For the first time in two years but for the 55th time in the last 60. House Blues vs House City. The grudge match would happen once again, here in the city we call home. On a cool Spring day whose clouds hung low in the sky and whose winds blew with a northern chill. The weather felt as unpredictable as the pending match. Kansas City’s Rugby clubs once again strapped on their boots, taped their wrists, elbows and ankles and lined up opposite each other and in front of a crowd totaling over 500 onlookers. the opening whistle pierced the air.
Two minutes in, rough start and stop play resulted in a scrum for City, who played the ball out into a forward crash, then repeated with another. Blues loose forwards swarmed over the ball, but a highly questionable “tackler not rolling away” call took away the Blues’ poach and handed the ball to city on a penalty at the blues 15. City took advantage, choosing to kick for points. The kick sailed through, opening the scoring and putting City on the board. The wind blew harder, the temperature dropped degrees and the weather seemed ominous. Winter was coming. City lead 3-0.
The Blues threatened most of the next chunk of play, controlling the ball and knocking on the door from minutes 5-15. A penalty tap and go from City’s 15 was thwarted by a strip tackle by city #6 Derek Faulkner. Minutes later, a nice inside step to break the gain line and immediate veteran look to the outside by Casey Cummings and pass to the winger resulted in a Blues 2 on 1 on the outside at the City 22 meter line. A nice defensive play by City’s one outside defender and subsequent errant pop pass left Blues players and supporters with sour faces and groans as only clear and open space lay beyond the landing spot of the dirty ball. With the groans also came the beginning of raindrops from the skies, falling on players and fans alike as play continued. A far sideline lineout won by the Blues and pounded into the 22 by the Blues forwards was defended physically by City, bringing the ball laterally across the goal line towards the supports sideline. The majority of the forward packs of both sides were consumed around the breakdown, when first time D1 starting Scrum Half Quinn Tilley zipped the ball out to the backs which went through the hands and was ultimately dotted down by starting 15 Silas Johnson in the corner. The conversion try from the sideline fell short but the Blues were on the board and had the lead 5-3.
The weather worsened. The rain fell harder, the wind blew colder as mother nature reminded the gathering who was boss. The City kickoff went deep. Enticed by their recent success, the Blues chose to play out instead of kick for clearance. A properly formed and passionate attack ended before it began by the quick self-inflicted dagger of a dropped pass from 10. The subsequent penalty, which was mildly centered on the 22, was again kicked for points and slotted. The rain fell just a bit colder, the wind bit just a bit harder and City again lead 6-5. Play resumed in the now almost downpour. The tough conditions slowed the ball down and made for cluttered play. Possession flip flopped back and forth as hard tackles for both sides caused balls lost forwards, wet ball lead to knock ons and both opposing 7’s stole balls from breakdowns. The possession immediately following the Blues poached ball marched down the field with multi phased play, looking more like their natural selves even though the driving rain. A City non releasing penalty, a kick to touch and an easily won lineout built momentum deep into City territory but a lost ball forward though the hands of the back line at the 22 pulled the reigns back on the drive.
The weather penetrated the game even further and saw the game become a grind. Balls were lost at the back of winning scrums, penalties were kicked to touch and lineouts were lifted into the rain. The clubs had a dog fight on their hands and it became apparent that this one felt like a match that would come down to the final whistle. Back and forth the ball went under the cold April Shower. Fittingly, the half ended with a three phase possession by the Blues culminating in a lost ball forward in the City tackle in their own territory. The half whistle blew and the color of the sky seemed to darken even a shade more. The Night is Dark and Full of Terrors. City lead at half.
A penalty to the Blues opened the second half at the City 40 gave the Blues an early 2nd half opportunity but the resulting kick failed to make it to touch. The deep waiting City 10 collected the ball and returned a booming clearance kick down the player sideline. The Blues’ return failed to reclaim yardage and a forward crash knock on gave the ball back to City, who quickly played advantage, swung the ball out to their streaking #6 who broke the gain line and a couple tackles and dotted down a try. The night grew darker, the kick was made, and the scoreboard showed 13-5 City.
The Blues fervor heightened. A sense of urgency oozed from the players and the fans. Nearly all of the next 20 minutes were played deep in City territory, with several Blues opportunities. A chip over and run-on attempt glanced off #10 Tye Lewis’ hands, a Yellow Card Penalty by City gave the Blues a penalty choice on the 5, which was chosen to tap and go in an attempt to pound it in. A forward crash ball was moved into the Try zone but was held up. The ball was again given back to the blues on a City penalty on the exchange and again tapped and go’d, this time to 2nd half come on Afa Tapuaosa, and driven to the City 1. But alas, the next forward pick was lost forward and the ball whistled dead. The following City scrum on the 5 was swarmed by loose forwards #7 Danny Apgar and #8 Jimmy Lillis, who managed to separate ball from the City 8 man’s hands but again the ball was knocked forward on the attempt to scoop and score. The next City 5 meter scrum was won again by the forwards inside the ruck, but was promptly knocked on in the backline. Minutes later, #1 Brandon Hayes broke the gain line and popped to veteran back Casey Cummings who carried the ball again to the City goal line, but the ball was lost in the breakdown and the resulting City clearance kick relieved the pressure. The dark clouds rolled on and the rain continued to fall. But at the 60th minute, the constant play deep in City territory finally proved fruitful. A simple but slick pass from Longtime Veteran Kevin Schwartze to burly Lock Jason Banhart who dummied another pass and stepped an inside line, splitting two defenders and charging into the try zone and centering a score. Conversion good. 13-12 City.
And with that score, the clouds parted. The sun seemed to have waited for its perfect time to shine and said hello to the crowd. The rain stopped, the sunshine illuminated the pitch more than it had the entire first 3 quarters of the match. The next City kickoff was gathered by a Blues lifting pod and pounded forward and a whistle rang out for a high tackle penalty. The kick to touch gave the Blues a lineout on the City 30, which was easily won, kicked out to the backline and through the hands and into wing Aren martin’s. The athletic wing burst around the outside, ran directly over the City Fullback and dotted down the Blues second try in as many minutes. Conversion went wide, but the score had now flipped. Blues lead 19-13.
But the sun didn’t stay out for long. After another kickoff was gobbled up by an airborne Blues lifting pod, but another Blues forward crash knock on gave City a scrum at the Blues 40. A City 8 man pick from the scrum and another highly questionable “ball is off the deck but not yet out of the ruck” call on a Blues quick tackle off City’s scrum half gave City a penalty choice and a deep kick to touch resulted in City a lineout at the Blues 10. A won lineout, a maul and a roll off on the blindside of the maul gave City a counterpunch try. A massive conversion gave city the lead, 20-19.
The moments now held weight with every tick of the clock. Roughly 400 Blues supporters and fans seem to hold their breath with each passage of play. The Blues played with a frantic sense of urgency. City tried to take the air out of the ball. Time was precious to one side and moved in slow motion for the other. A Blues committed penalty was chosen to kick for points for City. City smartly let moments tick away as the tee came out, ball was set, and kicker took deep breaths. The kick sailed through, as the night is always darkest before the dawn, and the scoreboard showed 23-19.
The Blues feverishly chased down the kick, putting pressure on City as they attempted to keep possession and run out the clock. Time ticked away. A pick and go from the pile of bodies that composed the breakdown was pushed back and out of touch at the 5 meter line to give the Blues a last hope. As the Blues set up for a lineout, the referee signaled last play.
The lineout was won, the ball swung to the center of the field and #5 Kevin Schwartze who took it into contact. Another phase through the hands of the backs to the opposing hash, another phase down the outside channel then a crash off the sideline to Hooker Stephen Lomas and finally off the deck and across the field, through the hands of 10, 5, 21 and finally 8. The handsome 8 man Jimmy Lillis shouldered a defender after a pop pass from Afa Tapusoa and rumbled into the try zone directly in front of the Blues supporter’s corner. The roar from the Blues' crowd rolled over Swope Sporting complex. What do we say to the God of Death? Not today. Blues win 24-23.
Division 2 vs KCRFC 2
Whatever black magic City wielded in the D1 game had dissipated with the rain. Credit to City, they played tough once again, but could not match the energy and pace of the fresh legs of the Blues second side. The scoring opened with a try by prop Josh Jimenez in the 25 the minute. A line break and a pop pass after hitting ground from hooker Delanio Flores was caught and scored by youngin’ Caleb Moore in the 30th. Veteran Josh Watson again broke free to dot one down on the outside to close the first half 17-0 Blues.
The second half opened much in the same way of the first. Blues possession and offensive attack. Center Dairyess Collier juked two city defenders on way to an opening half score. Fly half Gavin Kirk dummied a city defender out of his shoes and dove in a try in the Blues supporters corner to cries of joy from Blues fans and D1 players watching in the corner. City showed sings of life late in the second half with a offensive surge and try of their own but a goal line crash ball from thick thighed Blakeston Bryant capped off the scoring and following conversion made it the final score of 34-5 to finish the day. 2 wins over rival City, rain, sunshine, beers, brauts, rucks, scrums, trys, cries and cheers for joy. It was a full day in the Cage. The Kansas City Rugby Rivalry had returned.