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Fresh faces help County build on past success
New focus, new players and a short-handed opponent added up to a 91-3 season-opening victory Saturday by the Colusa County Rugby Football Club against Mendocino Steam Donkey Rugby Club.
Mendocino played the game with 13 players instead of the usual 15 and couldn't keep up with the full-strength home team on the Egling Middle School field.
"(Mendocino is) a team that we really like to play. We're good friends with all of them, and for them to play 13 against 15 the whole game and never give up, that's something you don't see in rugby anymore. So, we have a lot of respect for them saying we'll play you as is, knowing what they were coming into," said County player-coach Christian Cowsert.
Nathan Polit scored the first try of the game just two minutes in, and tries by Jacob Meechan, Pomoquso Saulque and Gerardo Parra in the first 18 minutes of the game put the game out of reach. Polit and Saulque scored two more tries in the half and County entered the break with a 46-3 lead.
County scored seven tries in the second half as they substituted reserves into the game.
Armed with a new coach and a half-dozen players from the Highwaymen Rugby Club - a social rugby club which draws players from around the west coast - the ruggers from Colusa County have high expectations for this season.
County's success and the team's personality drew the players to the team from as far away as Bishop, Calif., though most of the new additions, including coach Sean Peters, are from Santa Rosa, Cowsert said.
"A lot of these guys we play with on a traveling team, the Highwaymen, so there's been some friendships made and basically a lot of the guys saw we had the commitment they wanted out of a team," he said.
Peters is the coach of the Highwaymen and took a high school team from Santa Rosa to the national championship, according to Cowsert.
He started helping coach the team this year, though Cowsert is the official coach, and brought renewed focus to the team, which struggled at times during their 4-4 campaign last season after going 7-1 the season before.
"(The other teams) were more prepared for us and I don't think we had the drive we have this year. This year we honestly believe we can make it to nationals, Sean has really made that clear to us. We've got guys who are pushing themselves 100 times harder than they have before," Cowsert said.
The addition of the Highwaymen to the team, and the continued interest and growth from the County players give the team about 30 players on the roster, and plenty of depth to keep players fresh late in the season.
A group of players make the trip from Santa Rosa once a week to practice, and the entire team is more dedicated to the sport this year.
"He's actually got us practicing for real now. It's not Cody (Beckley) and I trying to organize it. We've got a coach all the guys respond to the right way, not Cody and I where we have a little trouble getting guys motivated. He's got them over-motivated at this point," Cowsert said.
Colusa County RFC travels to Santa Rosa on Saturday to play Redwood Empire before returning home Feb. 2 for a 1 p.m. match at Egling Middle School against a strong Shasta Highlander Rugby Club.
CONTACT Kirk Barron at 458-2121 or email@example.com.