Thursday, July 14, 2011

Wes Clark Interview

Is there a strong non-U.S. contingent on the club? (I had heard that there were many players of Tongan and New Zealand nationality.)

A more appropriate question to ask is this, "Is there a strong non-U.S. contingent at the school?" Highland High School is a designated ESL (English as a Second Language) school. Depending upon the school year, between 25% to 30% of the student body are enrolled in the ESL program. Immigrants, refugees, etc. that come to the Salt Lake area have the children enrolled at Highland because of the excellent English language program. At present, 37 languages, other than English, are spoken by students as a first language at Highland. Talk about diversity! Many students come here with little or no English speaking ability. 

While we get students from all over the country, presently the majority of students come from Latin America, the South Pacific, and Eastern Europe. We are seeing more African students of late. Several years ago we saw a flood of Southeast Asian immigrants.

Naturally we have some non-U.S. citizens who are students and participate in most all sports at the school, both sanctioned and unofficial sports. (You hear more Spanish being spoken on the Highland soccer team than English!) Although rugby has more students participating than football at Highland, there are more non-U.S. students playing football than are playing rugby.

The team is bigger than any player or any coach. We put our personal wants and wishes aside for the sake of the team. We sacrifice for the team.
We have dominated because we get the best athletes in the school, they work hard and train hard, and, I believe, are properly coached.

What attracted the non-U.S. players to Salt Lake City?

Utah has become a popular place for immigration because we have so much space here and the economy is so good. There is virtually no unemployment here. The LDS Church is also a major draw. Many people want to come to "Zion." Highland High School gets a disproportionate share of immigrants because of the English program.

Answering but not answering the question ... the invisible boys from New Zealand.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

BYU Broadcasting Not Talking

Contacted BYU broadcasting several times, Kevin Worthen and President Samuelsons office. Spoke to the admin assistants and left my name and number. I asked that they have someone call me back.

No one had the courtesy to return my call and discuss why BYU is putting its stamp of approval on such a recruiting scheme.

Just prior to the 2011 NCAA tournament, BYU removed a basketball player from the team who voluntarily came forward and admitted that he had violated the school honor code. I will have to read the BYU honor code to see if it gives any further direction.

Monday, July 4, 2011

BYU funded documentry

BYU has funded a documentary on the Highland Rugby Club. More details coming.

Zero Mentions

In over 25 years the invisible rugby players from New Zealand have contributed to winning at least 50% of the 410 wins and 1/2 of the 19 National Championships?

Yet there are ZERO mentions of their critical contributions in the forever strong movie, on the team website, on the missionary strong website or in any newspaper article. Not even a thank you!


Because recruiting foreign rugby players to get wins does not:
  • sell movie tickets
  • secure funding from BYU for a documentary (Brigham Young University)
  • get you paid corporate speaking engagements.

Monday, June 6, 2011

U-19 and High School division confusion

There is still a lot of misinformation circulating regarding the Highland transition from the High School Varsity aged rugby program to the more recent focus on the U-19 program.

The U-19 team is not a high school varsity aged team.

The U-19 division was created after 2005, when Highland could no longer use the Utah Public School system or any private school to perpetuate the "pretend full time student" program from year to year. See the letter from Carol Lear and the Utah Board of Education.

The U-19 program has allowed the Highland and the New Zealand recruiting program to continue without the full time high school student requirement.

You have seen a steady decline in the storied 379-9 / Highland High School Varsity program to an average team. Four losses this year alone. Very competitive games from week to week. No 40,50, 60, 80 and 126 to zero wins. Same coaching staff and leadership principles.

What has happened?

There are no recruited import players from NZ playing on this team.

They are all now playing on the U-19 squad.

The U-19 team and its record should be kept totally separate from the High School team record. They are two separate and distinct teams. One comprised of young men attending high school as full time students. The other of 18 and almost 19 year olds and the 8 import players from NZ.

It is very misleading to be adding the win loss record of the post 2005 U-19 team on to the pre 2005 win loss record of the high school varsity aged team just to push the combined numbers to 410 wins.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Import players on both teams

Both Highland (8) and United(4) have import players from New Zealand on their 2011 teams. It was the only way United could compete with Highland and avoid the 50 to 100 point drubbings experienced by every other team.

United has been the only team in the country that has provided an equal level of competition to the Highland U-19 program.

Several proposals to level the playing field for all teams by limiting the number of import players to two on the field at anyone time have been supported by United but turned down by Highland.

Thank you to the import players from New Zealand, on both teams for your contribution.

Highland beats United 38-24

Highland beats United 38-24
Jesuit beats Xavier 50-27
Cal beats BYU 21-14

Awesome games

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Tipping Point

Highland High School team loses another tough game to Snow Canyon. That makes four losses this season. Props to the boys on both teams for a well played game.

Each week the undeniable yet hidden contribution of the import players from New Zealand, the Highland magic, 100 point to zero games and the "incredible 390 wins" is further exposed and brought to the surface.

Each loss strengthens the case that for 25 years the overwhelming tipping point from one season to the next has always been the import players from New Zealand. Without them there would be 200 wins and 200 losses a 50/50 team and no forever strong movie.

Without these incredible players on the field the High School games are extremely competitive and do much good for local players the spirit and growth of youth rugby.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Highland High School loses 3rd game in a row to Lone Peak

Another tough loss for the Highland High School team to Lone Peak High School on Wednesday.
(23 -19)

Teams are very savvy now to keeping the Highland import players off the field for these High School division games. The very competitive and close games speak for themselves.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Competitive and Equals

Was just informed by a reader that the Highland High School team (not U-19) also lost to Skyline last week.

Both of these games, Snow Canyon this week and Skyline were tough hard fort matches.

Props and respect to the Highland boys as well.

They played their hearts out in the loss to Snow Canyon.

Each loss further unravels the onion of the Highland Myth:
  • Reveals the equality and competitiveness that exists between teams when one is not stacked with import players
  • NO stifling 100 point wins
  • It proves that 30 years of this process has not filtered down to the other Highland players and teams in the program.
  • They are at the same level as all of the other High School aged teams in the country.
  • Not dominant, not unbeatable but struggling and learning as all teams do.
  • This is what builds true character.
  • This is a positive and refreshing revelation and change for the growth of youth rugby.
  • This is the last year for the U-19 division and the end of outrageous, lopsided 100 point scores.
  • Now the future looks very bright for youth rugby

Each loss dilutes the Highland Myth (300 wins and 9 losses) and the lack of recognition that has been with held on purpose from the amazing invisible import players from New Zealand.

Another 50 plus point drubbing

I witnessed another unnecessary drubbing of a team from Arizona by the Highland U-19 team on Saturday.

At one time I believe the entire back line was made of import players from New Zealand.

Sad that the team from Arizona was not permitted to leave the field with any measure of dignity.

Quote from one of the highland players during the game, "on our way to 100 baby". A sad reflection of the Highland culture.

At least it was not a 100 to zero affair which has become far to common over the past 10 years with this team stacked annually with import players and pretend students.

The real telling game of the day was the game between (3rd year)Snow Canyon, a single school team from St George and the (30 year)Highland High School team made up of players from all over the Salt Lake Valley.

Highland lost. The Highland Magic is not so magic with out the (10) import boys.

Speaks volumes for itself.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

30 years and no home field

Several high schools were approached by Highland to use their facilities for this season. They were denied partly because they checked with the Utah State Board of Education on the validity of pretend students / import rugby players in 2005 being expelled from Olympus High School.

It's interesting that after 30 years and such a storied record of wins, that Highland has no permanent home field in Salt Lake. This year they are practicing in Millrace city park.

Unlike several relatively new local programs who in just a few years have secured permanent long term locations and amazing community and local school support.

Successful Recruiting trip 2010

Larry Gelwix had a successful recruiting trip to the South Pacific in 2010. Unconfirmed reports, that he recruited from 7 to 10 players from New Zealand and Samoa.

Also interesting rumors that the bulk of last years coaching staff have left the team for greener pastures and that he plans to shut down the club after this season.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


Try Wiggio as a social networking and collaboration site for your rugby club. It works great and it's FREE.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The HR rugby recruiting stalk must have a cold?

My sources report a most unusual and very recent sighting in the Land Down Under ... New Zealand.

Mr LG, Highland head coach on a recruiting trip in Hamilton and American Samoa. Holding meetings in several homes, asking them to come and play for Highland Rugby this upcoming season.

I said are you sure!!!!!! This cannot be true ................

I swear it was him or his twin brother.

No no, he would not risk being seen engaged in a recruiting activity that he has vehemently denied having any knowledge of for 30 years.

"I know NOTHING about any recruiting, they (import rugby players from NZ) just show up every year on my doorstep, I don't know how they get here"

Does the rugby recruiting stalk have a cold this year?

Now American Samoa is interesting I said, why would he be recruiting players from American Samoa?..........Because they are US Citizens!!! Ah ha his creativity ceases to amaze me .............

"I know NOTHING" Sargent Schultz from the old TV show Stalag 13.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Level the playing field for all teams

1. Require ID cards for all players. Very easy to do with today's technology.

2. Limit the number of non resident players to 2 or 3 on the field at any one time.

3. If you live in the boundaries of a High School that has a team, you must play for that team.

Dave makes some very good suggestions worth looking into

Is it time to:

1. Clarify the resident, non resident, citizen, non citizen confusion?

2. USA Rugby National Championship for US Clubs with US Citizens/Residency who live in the USA

3. And their could be allowances for true exchange students studying full-time in academic courses or foreign born boys who are living in the US full-time

4. USA Rugby Open Tournament which allows any U19 Club in the USA or from anywhere in the world to compete.

From a parent of one of the Belmont Shore players

Dear Ra:

Thanks for your Info / Blog and I do take it for what it is, just good information that helps to create talking points and explain what I was wondering about but not knowledgeable about.

I try to suppress any animosity towards Highland or even Utah United "Import Players. Anyone should want to play against the best players at their age grade to improve, learn from, and understand what it takes to excel at the highest level. This can only be done by playing the best competition you can find, which in the US (outside of Utah), can be difficult for most youth rugby clubs that don't have healthy traveling budgets.

Anyway, I was impressed while attending the U19 Nationals in Sandy that all of the "Import Players" seemed like terrific boys not just in their level of play but their sportsmanship on the field also. So I have no problem with these great U19 boys at all.

I watched most of the 2010 Utah United win over Highland and it was the best U19 match I've seen played in the USA. It was just a great match and I was proud to see Rugby played at this level, at this age grade, in the USA. Our U19 coach made sure our boys where in the stands watching not just the skill level but how the boys would make a hard tackle but many times give the opposing player a pat or even help them up.

So, the only problem I have, and I think you have this opinion by reading your blog, is:
1) What is fair?
2) Why would adults with such good morals, a sense of what fair play is, and strong religious standards want to play their own games with the intent of the rules. It doesn't take Rocket Scientist to understand what is "Fair Play" and what is not.
2) So, did we really have a USA Rugby U19 National Championship or just a great Open Tournament Final played in the USA?

Yes, rhetorical question with a simple suggestion for Youth Rugby in the US:
- The USA Rugby National Championship should be for US Clubs with US Citizens/Residency who live in the USA. And their could be allowances for true exchange students studying full-time in academic courses or foreign born boys who are living in the US full-time.
- Their could also be a USA Rugby Open Tournament which allows any U19 Club in the USA or from anywhere in the world to compete. This could be a traditional US U19 Club (home grown), a hybrid like Highland/United, or traveling Clubs from overseas or Canada. That is, an invitational but open to any club from anywhere in the world.

We could then reward US Boys with a true US National Championship. And we could also challenge our US U19 Clubs to play against the best Club Teams in the world. If some of our best US U19 Clubs think they can play at International Levels (or honestly close to it), then enter the Open Tournament. Teams like Highland could enter both but not go to that extreme of having 8 New Zealand boys playing for a USA National Championship.

Continuing on to a more important topic. My son plays for the Belmont Shore U19 Team that tried as hard as could with the skills their short rugby training allowed them. They were all disappointed to loose to Highland but understood that their skill level was not (yet) at Highland or Utah United's level. So sure, the boys, parents, & coaches complained a bit about Highland but almost all of us understood that we (boys, coaches, parents & supporters) were given a great gift to have our club boys be able to play a match against such a quality rugby side. Immediately after the match, our Club started to plan on how to get organized to provide the best support possible for our boys for next year and the future. And the boys started thinking about the higher level of commitment that would be required to get to international levels.

As you mentioned, Highland has a habit of painting a rosy picture. On their website, they mentioned that Belmont Shore looked like a Men's Side but we are really quite young: Props are 15 & 17, starting wing also 15, half the team are juniors in high school, & we only age-out three players from this year. Having a team with many Samoan-American boys you just get big athletic kids with a football background. My son ....................... and this was his first year playing at that position; he's also 17yrs and a high school junior.

Anyway, thanks for your blog since it really did give me good background info; just better to be informed than ignorant and bitter.

In the end, I was just happy to have seen such an impressive U19 Final Match on US soil and thrilled that my son and his club played in a terrific tournament in Utah

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Saturday, May 22, 2010

United 22 - Highland 17

A fantastic game!!

Congratulations to both teams!!

United was ahead by 17-0 at half. A dominating first half of play by United. Highland came back strong and showed a lot of heart in the second half. Tied the game at 17-17.
But the day, the game and the National Championship went to United as they scored the final try. Kia Kaha!

The Highland players should be very proud of their valiant effort. Two excellent and awesome teams made Utah proud today. The home of the two very best rugby teams in the country.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Single School Teams across the state

Rugby has the potential of becoming a sanctioned Utah high school sport in the next 5 years.

School districts a seeing millions in revenue shortfalls all across the state.

Compared to other traditional sports, a rugby program is very inexpensive to start and maintain.

A rugby team at every Utah High School. Would that not be awesome!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Rugby Brotherhood ... Good luck to Highland

Let me say that the athletes and young men on the Highland teams are awesome. This blog should in no way take anything away from or diminish their efforts in the least. I know they leave everything on the field each time they play.

I wish them the best and hope they cherish the memories of being a part of such a great sport.

The rugby brotherhood, allows brothers and the best of friends to play on opposite teams, yet off the field we are one. It is this fellowship, of mutual respect, off the field that will define and shape our lives into the future.

Scores and records are quickly forgotten, while the memories of warriors sharing a coke or hamburger after the game will live forever.

Cherish these memories.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

HR has 10 losses this season

HR teams have a total of 10 losses this season.

Very difficult to scale up and duplicate the, thirty year 390 - 9 super dominating team model when you now have multiple teams and only the U-19 has the 8 import players.

The U-19 continues with the 100 point wins until they met United, Skyline or Kearns. Two of 100 + point wins, 126-0, came over FIRST YEAR teams. Cheers to those two teams for walking on to the field.

This begs the question. If other Utah teams are getting more and more competitive while HR increases the numbers of import players on the U-19 squad from year to year. Why? HR has confirmed that this year there are 8 import players. Two are US citizens but do not live in the USA.

All of the other HR teams have found fair, good and very good competition form week to week. Yes and finding themselves on the short end of the stick 9 times.

9 losses in one year compared to 9 losses in 30 years is very significant.

This dilutes the HR magic. Magic mixed with 8 import players,100 point wins and no losses appears to be leading to mediocrity not superiority and domination. A good loss once and a while is the best experience for any team.

The U-19 team was lucky, not magic, to squeak out a one point victory over United. Only scoring when United had 14 men on the field. The ref put a United player in the sin bin for being offside in the final 5 minutes. This created the opportunity for HR to score. They could not score when United was at full strength.

The key for United in the upcoming rematch, hopefully, in Rio Tinto will be keeping 15 men on the field

The losses are not listed on the HR website, only the wins. Keeping up appearances, the perfect record, is hard work.... "delete" ... ha ha

Now confirmed by our friends at HR ... Pretzel Logic

This gets very technical but I will give it a try.

Not as per US Immigration service or the state of Utah. But as defined by HR.

HR U-19 Squad

6 of the import players are non US residents and non citizens.

2 are not residents or living in Utah or the USA but they were born in the USA and are US citizens.

That is a total of 8 import players who came here from other countries to play for HR and will be returning to their homes at the end of the season.

As US citizens but living in New Zealand, two imports qualify as residents under the rules of USA Rugby.

One of the 6 non citizens cannot dress for each U-19 game because only 5 can be on the roster.

A US citizen living anywhere in the world for any length of time can now meet the USA Rugby residency requirements and play for any team.

A US citizen is a resident of Utah and the USA even if he lives permanently in New Zealand or England etc

This opens the door for a future hybrid HR U-19 or Eagle team comprised 100% of players who do not live or reside permanently in the USA. As long as 10 of them have US citizenship regardless of the country in which they reside. Local players will be sitting on the bench as reserves and water boys.

HR is currently at 50% of this hybrid model with 8, non resident citizens and non citizens, 53.33% of the team.

If I was born Boston but I now live in New York, then I should be able to play for the team in Boston because I meet the residency requirement by birth even though I am not a resident of Boston because I live in New York ........

The drafters of the USA Rugby rules used the word "resident" for a reason. Don't make me explain this one. Use your common sense. What does resident mean in high school and college sports?

BRILLIANT pretzel logic !! ha ha

Thursday, May 6, 2010

U-19 v. Dixie

U-19 v. Dixie

Highlights: The game was over pretty quick against Dixie, who played hard all game but is a first year team with a lot of green players. Tries came early and often by our boys, who had go-forward all day long. It is still early season, so we are playing with some different lineups and seeing who we have where. All 15 starters were pulled at halftime of a runaway game, and although the bench was emptied, there was not much drop off from the starters to the reserves in a 101-0 victory. Great play by John Kacinski, Levi Card, Maika Hafoka, Dion Stevens, Eric Pauni, and Brigham Tukukino, among many others.

Lowlights: Placekicking is still inconsistent, and we need to continue to find a comfort level with each other and function as one…but there were great improvements there form last week.

1: DJ Ferris (Moises Peraza @ half), 2: Levi Card (Iniki Tauveli @ half), 3: Kesni Tausinga (Seni Fauonuku @half), 4: Sam Brookham (Kap Pauni @ half), 5: Matt Jensen (Justin Hill @ half), 6: Aaron Hanson (Nate Fairbanks @ half), 7: John Kacinski (Ara Elkington @ half), 8: Maika Hafoka (Kingston Liavaa @ half), 9: Sean Harwood (Mitch Larsen @ half), 10: Danny Tuai (Kepu Lauti @ half), 11: Eric Pauni (Etu Moli @ half), 12: Dion Stevens (Wini Elkington @ half), 13: Brigham Tukukino (Leva Bloomfield @ half), 14: Josh Anderson (Jace Peterson @ half) 15: Tana Afeaki (Dane Madsen @ half)

Other reserves: Michael Western, Jaxon Phippen, Josh Nilsen, Clyde Reaveley, George Kafalava, Percy Angilau, Tonga Angilau, Tyler Byrge, Sione Folaumoeloa, Isi Manu

Scoring – T: Card, Tausinga, Kacinski(2), Harwood, E. Pauni, Stevens, Tukukino, Anderson, A. Elkington(2), Phippen, L. Bloomfield (2), Madsen, Kafalava, Angilau K: Afeaki 3C, Stevens 3C, Madsen 2C

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Sticks and stones ....

For those of you who may be thinking of creative ways to use this blog as a lever against the United Rugby Club, please read on.

I have no affiliation with the United Rugby Club other than Colin Puriri the coach, is my brother. I do not speak for or on behalf of the United Rugby Club.

These are my opinions.

My brother and I have had strong disagreements about issues. He is his own man and I love him as a brother unconditionally. Always have and always will. And by the way is a pretty damn good coach.

The last time I looked out the window there is an American flag in one of my neighbor's yards. The United States of America, home of the free,the brave and protector of liberty and the right of free speech. I love this country and feel privileged to live here.

I also love the principles of truth and integrity based on the show me principle.

This blog places my opinions with supporting documentation on the table.

Opinions only become valid or truthful when they are substantiated with the cold hard facts. Otherwise they are just hot air, good for balloons and blowing smoke.

Read the .pdf files, correct me and show me if I am wrong and make your own judgments.

And yes I am a legal immigrant.


Sticks and stones .............

Monday, May 3, 2010

Import players...Highland 6,7,8,9? - United 4

Who knows how many? It's a mystery and closely guarded secret.

Like a soap opera "As the Black Planet Turns". Stay tuned.

Why do the import numbers increase every year? Over the years we have seen the import ranks grow from 2 to 4 to 6 and now 8 maybe 9 in 2010!

If local talent is benefiting from this practice then the numbers of import players should be getting smaller and smaller from year to year to maintain the same level of play and scoring.

Quite the opposite is happening. HR teams, other than U-19, are finding themselves in very competitive games across the board from week to week. Discovering the benefits of losing, that we all have enjoyed for years.

Rio Tinto to Expensive for Nationals

Highland is sponsoring the National tournament at Rio Tinto in 3 weeks. An email was sent out asking teams to help with the event and to share the proceeds.

You smash a team by 126 points, then you ask them to help you. Charity? These type of requests require forward planning, building friendships and brotherhood. Don't be surprised by the lack of response.

This is liken to the Pharisee walking by the beggar on the side of the road (The Good Samaritan)and walking away without helping him.(126-0) The next week you need help pushing your car into a gas station and you ask this very same man to help you.

Some FREE & friendly advice for the black planet:

1. Rio Tinto is to big and expensive, tickets will need to be $60.00 each or more to cover your costs. People cannot afford this in today's economy
2. Hold the event at Murray Park, its a great facility
3. You can lower the cost to attend, or make it free, and have food and vendor booths to cover your costs.
4. None of these opportunities are available at Rio Tinto.
5. You will avoid the black hole of debt and scrambling to find donors to fill the big gap at the end of the day
6. Not as fancy as Rio Tinto. But who cares about fancy? We just care about rugby and the young men participating.

Good luck.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

The Highland Review of the game with United

Highland U19 v. United

Saturday saw a phenomenal game of rugby between rivals Highland and United, one which could have gone either way, and often did with a back-and-forth lead throughout the game. In the end, Highland found a bit of that old magic from somewhere to earn the #1 seed to nationals in an 18-17 victory.

The game was unbelievably intense from the opening kickoff, and it became clear from the opening breakdown that both teams were going to go viciously at each other all game long. Murray rugby stadium was filled almost to capacity, with a crowd that probably numbered around 2-3,000 screaming rugby fans who made the noise almost deafening at times. Big hits, nasty rucks, and handling errors in the backline marked much of the first half of play, as both teams went at each other back and forth on the field without much to show on the scoreboard. Highland threatened more consistently in the half, spending a great deal of time in the opposition half, but a strong United defense and an inability to hold on to the ball kept the score at zero until United conceded a penalty straight in front of the posts which was successfully taken by lock Sam Brookham, 3-0. United responded right away, with the Whippy twins (12/13) deftly moving the ball down the field both on the ground and through the air with the kicking game. Two interesting side notes – 1. Marcus Whippy, older brother of the twins, was a standout wing for Highland about 6 years ago, very talented family. 2. Both teams were had sets of twins on the field, with the aforementioned Josh and Jared Whippy for United, and Ara and Wini Elkington for Highland (whose older brother Raha excelled at #10 for Highland back in 2005). Quite the family affair!

Back to the game, United was given a penalty of their own, which was slotted through to tie the score at 3. Highland would get close a couple more times, but would come away with no points. Levi Card made several strong runs only to lose possession, and handling errors continued to plague the backline. Both sides showed very strong defense, and after some more intense play on both sides, that’s the way the half would end.

If the first half was intense, the second half was intensity on steroids. Both teams came out with plenty of fire. The excitement in the air was palatable, as both squads knew that the winner of the game would go straight to nationals as the #1 seed, while the loser would have to win a 4-team playoff (with NorCal, PNW, and Arizona) for the #2 seed. A Highland attack saw the ball spend a lot of time near the goal, and although a score seemed imminent, it was tough going. Eventually a United penalty led to another Brookham kick, and the lead was Highland’s again, 6-3. It was United who would score the first try of the game. Following a 5-man lineout, a kick ahead by fullback Ezra Hirawani caused havoc near the goal, and with Highland unable to field cleanly, United would pick up and touch over for the unconverted try, 10-6.

The physical play would get a hair out of hand, as United’s Whippy (#12) would be sent off for a high tackle, much to the dismay of the very opinionated United fans, who had no problem letting the official know exactly how they felt. It was the first of two yellow cards on the day for United. Taking advantage of the man advantage, Highland moved the ball down the field where it appeared they would be once again rebuffed. Not to be denied this time, though, the ball was spun wide to inserting fullback Tana Afeaki, who carried himself across the line with a second effort and reached across for the try. The sideline conversion was missed by Brookham, but the lead was regained, 11-10. With around 8 minutes left in the game, it was desperation for United, who had to make something happen. Once again, it was the kicking game that would move them down the field, and they put one in across the line for a converted try, and Highland was left with less than 5 minutes to score, and convert, a try. What happened next is another piece to add to the Highland legend. Hard running, great execution, and fanatical effort moved the ball down the field. Sean Harwood found DJ Ferris on the weakside, but he came up about a meter short from scoring. As the try would have to be converted for the win, it may have been a blessing in disguise that he did not get in, as the kick would have been difficult. Highland got the ball back quickly and after a perfectly executed lineout, got close once again. Harwood took the ball from a ruck and spun wide to #10 Danny Tuai, who glanced off of a tackler, spun inside, and sprinted in to the try zone for a diving try that sent the crowd and the sidelines in to an absolute frenzy. The noise was deafening, and for a moment the crowd seemed to forget than a conversion was still needed to go ahead. Not to worry, however, as Brookham continued a fantastic day of kicking by putting the pressure-packed kick through the uprights for an 18-17 advantage. 30 seconds was all that remained on the clock, and following a good take by Kesni Tausinga on the kickoff, Highland was awarded a penalty. Apparently wanting to add just a little more drama on the day (like it needed more!) Afeaki did not quite get the kick in to touch. Thankfully the kick was well-covered, and the United wing was forced out to end a game for the ages. Hats off to Wini and Ara, who were both incredible all day and showed a tremendous will to win, and to Brookham, who had his best kicking day of the year when it was needed most. Also, kudos to sophomore Leva Bloomfield, who played hard in making his first-ever U19 start.

Highland gets a bit of a rest before nationals on the 21st and 22nd, while United must win the previously mentioned tournament, which they will host, to qualify.


1: Maika Hafoka (Matt Jensen @ 20:00 blood, Hafoka re-enter), 2: Levi Card ( c ), 3: DJ Ferris, 4: Sam Brookham, 5: Kesni Tausinga 6: Aaron Hanson (Kap Pauni @ 60:00), 7: Ara Elkington, 8: John Kacinski, 9: Sean Harwood, 10: Danny Tuai, 11: Leva Bloomfield, 12: Eric Pauni, 13: Wini Elkington, 14: Josh Anderson, 15: Tana Afeaki

Scoring – (T): Afeaki, Tuai (K): Brookham 2P, 1C

Highland 18 United 17

Perhaps the best game of rugby many have ever seen. Congratulations to both teams.

Yesterday the black planet met its equal.

Rumor has it that Highland will be practicing 2x's a day, six days a week to find that 100 point edge.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Snow Canyon beats a very good Kearns 39-15

A good effort by both teams. Kearns is a very good team. They beat Highland HS2 team on March 28th.

HS2 v. Kearns1

The HS2 team lost a tough game to Kearns. Kearns, who had some incredible talent on the field, scored near the end of the game to take the lead and then kept possession until the clock ran out as the HR boys furiously tried to get the ball back to no avail. The game was physically brutal, with a few key injuries to our boys and three yellow cards given to Kearns for rough play. The Highland sideline was unhappy with what they perceived as an unwillingness by the official to call repeated offside infractions at the ruck, and although not everyone may see those kind of things the same way, all in attendance would no doubt commend the HR boys for a fantastic effort against a very physical and very skilled opponent. The boys can hold their heads up high and use this as a great building block for the rest of the season. And congratulations to Kearns on the victory.


INTEGRITY and the BIG W!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The LETTER of the LAW and its discriminatory and selective application.

Where is the moral equality and consistency in making such a harsh technical ruling while standing silently each week while first year teams are smashed by 126 points.

What message are you sending to the young men at Snow Canyon? What message have you sent to the young men at Kearns?

I was at the game.

The score would have been 50 to 5 if my brother had left in his A squad in the entire game. But instead he subs in his reserves and Kearns scores twice in the last 5 minutes, and walks off the field with a greater measure of self respect. And Snow Canyon provides a big feed for Kearns after the game.

Perhaps a different story if the loss was by one point.

Now instead of taking the loss like gentleman, and an opportunity to improve skills and build character, THE BIG W rears it's ugly head, and an appeal is filed by Kearns on a substitution technicality that had absolutely no bearing on the game whatsoever. The motivation being concern for a young man's health, not a scheme to pile on the points.

I feel sorry that we can not take the higher moral ground.

Although I strongly disagree with the decision, it appears the matter was handled appropriately by the union president.

Coach Puriri's response on the ruling

Date: Thu, 29 Apr 2010 15:14:32 +0000
To: Michael Cressler
Subject: Re: HS EC committe decision on the dispute between SC and Kearns

I also failed to mention that in all my years of rugby I have seen decisions based totally on the letter of the law, and very few on the spirit of the law. It takes a lot of courage to rule on the spirit of the law. The right ruling should of been based on the spirit of the law.

You made a decision without considering the boys safety. If I would of left him on and the boy collasped and died, I would been at fault. To do what I did should be rewarded no penalized. You guys missed an opportunity to take the higher road and go above and beyond, just the rule. If faced with the same situation I wouldn't hesitate to do it again.

If a team is so hard up for a victory,after getting their butts kicked for 45-50 minutes then we will choose not to play against them in the future.
Sorry to whine. Next game we play we will fake injuries to get boys back in. Hopefully avoiding something like this again.

Michael Puriri
Coach Snow Canyon Rugby

The BIG W rears its ugly head

Subject: HS EC committee decision on the dispute between SC and Kearns


After much discussion and review of the Laws of the game by myself and Larry Wilson as HS EC, Colin Puriri abstained due to family and single school implications, we have come to a conclusion. I will address both parts of the complaint separately for clarification

In regards to the 8 man who subbed in at the conversion and then subbed out, considering that all of the SC players had subbed out at that point in the game AND that per Law 3.12 exception 1 and 3.12 U-19 variation, the 8 man came on to sub a player who was injured. The player was checked out and returned to the game before the conclusion of the conversion. The 8 man then left the field of play. NO VIOLATION OCCURRED

The Prop is a different matter. We discussed heavily the interpretation of the above referenced laws, 3.12 exception 1 and 2 plus the U-19 variation, as have determined that while the prop was out of gas, he was not injured. We understand he was subbed out because he was exhausted and that he MAY become injured because he was tired. My understanding is that he had also played a game previously. While this does not matter in the least, it was a coaching decision that put a player into a position that ended up him needing to come out but there being no eligible front row. This does not fall within the laws or variations because there was no injury. Had the player REALLY needed to come out, the law 3.13(a) and (d) would come into play and a non front row could have subbed in and uncontested scrums would be utilized. Based upon this there was a VIOLATION OF THE LAW.

This really pains me because there was a wide margin in the scores, all of which was included in the play prior to this event. It also did not appear to be nefarious in any way or means with a coach thinking they were within the rules of the game when they are not. Not withstanding, we must also be consistent for violations of the laws. Davis County forfeited a game for an illegal substitution (their scrum half). Because there was no injury being subbed out for the prop, then we must look at this the same way. The HS EC votes to award the victory to Kearns HS due to forfeit because of substitution violation.


Mike C.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

How you play the game ... not winning or losing

Utah Rugby Union official stats

Its interesting that the Highland losses are not shown in the win loss column on the Highland website. Difficult to explain when the losses this year alone are already at 5. Compared to 9 losses in 33 years.

Except for U-19 ,Highland teams are finding themselves in very competitive games every week, and at times on the losing end of the stick. How refreshing. Highland can be beaten.

Why is there such a wide contrast between the U-19 team that smashes every team by 60 to 120 points and all of the other Highland teams?

The answer is simple ................ 9 as in NINE import players on the U-19 squad.

The 33 year myth that is being exposed more and more each week is that the 379 wins is due equally to import players from New Zealand and not the coaching exclusively.

We are now giving long over due credit, to the the anonymous boys from down under.


There are few to no import players on the other Highland teams. The result is a level playing field each week and very competitive games. The way it should have been for 33 years.

The anomaly of the weekly 100 point wins further clarifies the self serving nature of this very bad policy. How is this positive for rugby? How does it build brotherhood, sportsmanship and good character.

Its not whether you win or lose that matters but how you play the game. Highland teams are now learning HOW TO PLAY THE GAME. How you play involves losing once and a while. Losing is an essential part of improvement. The Highland program will be much the better for it. It is amazing how positive a good loss can be for a team.

Welcome to the real world.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


Montana taken care of, now on to Washington & Oregon
Thu - 22 Apr Written by Jeff Wilson
U19 v. Iron Horse (Montana) @ Rio Tinto Stadium

Iron Horse, from Frenchtown Montana, made their way to Salt Lake City to try and do what Arizona’s and Colorado’s best could not do: Slow down the Highland Rugby machine. The day began with promise for Iron Horse, who gave the High School squad from Highland everything they could handle in a 25-5 victory that was much closer than the score would indicate, with Iron Horse daring Highland to match its very physical brand of play. In the end, Kap Pauni and Jace Peterson provided the spark that Highland needed.

On to the main event, though. The Highland U19s, perhaps given a bit of a wake-up call from the tough contest given to the high school side, came out focused and ready to play against a very physically imposing Iron Horse U19 squad, and the boys in black would play their best game of the season in a 95-0 victory that was nothing short of domination at the beautiful 20,000 seat stadium, which will host this year’s HS/U19 national tournament.

#8 Maika Hafoka, recovering from a sub-par game in his last outing, took charge early with two tries that announced his physical presence. He took one ball off of a ruck from about 15 meters out, and another off of a 10m scrum. Both tries were punishing runs, and several Iron Horse defenders quickly found out that arm tackles would not be enough to bring the big man down. Also in the forwards, lock Sam Brookham showed that he would be a big presence all day, with complete domination in the lineout and physical play around the ruck. Following great field position from a weakside attack by scrumhalf Sean Harwood and wing Eric Pauni, Hafoka stole a lineout ball and immediately offloaded to open-side Ara Elkington, who touched right over for the try. The forwards would make it four in a row on the next possession as blind-side Aaron Hanson, continuing his stellar play, tackled and immediately poached the ball from an Iron Horse runner, then stepped over and found a gap which he took in for a 30-meter try.

After some uncharacteristic ball handling and passing errors, the explosive Highland backline finally woke up. Following a disallowed try off of a tap to prop Moises Peraza, Iron Horse foolishly tried to run the ball out of their own end zone off of scrum, and #10 Danny Tuai made them pay when he picked up a mishandled ball and put it down for the score. After a nice Iron Horse run on the next trip down the field, wing Josh Anderson got quick turnover ball and offloaded to Elkington, who then found fullback Tana Afeaki. Afeaki turned on the jets and outraced all defenders for a 50m try. A few nice phases got the ball wide for the next score, with the ball making its way down the line to center Brigham Tukukino for the try in the corner. The kicking game was the catalyst for the next score, as for the second game in a row Tuai’s kick found the deep corner and was picked up by Anderson who took it in for the try to close out the first half. Halftime found quite a bit of praise from the normally hard-to-please Highland coaches, who could find little to critique with such a complete performance.

A huge hit by Peraza on the second half kickoff showed that there would be no coasting, as the HR coaching staff began to work some alternate lineups by cross-training several players at their secondary positions. Hafoka took a ball from depth off of the ensuing lineout and bulled through the Montana defense for his third score of the game, and lock/prop Kesni Tausinga showed off his physical skills by picking up and moving an ENTIRE ruck back about 5 meters. After some back-and-forth kicking by both teams, Harwood took a quick tap and spun the ball wide, eventually finding wing Etu Moli for a corner try. After some sloppy play with the advent of numerous subs, wing Eric Pauni picked up a loose ball off of a ruck and powered his way over for yet another Highland score. Reserve center Tevita Bloomfield would add two more scores before the day was done.

Afterward, a nice exchange between the two teams saw hats and t-shirts presented back and forth. Iron Horse selected the #8 from each team (Kap Pauni for the HS and Hafoka for the U19) as the man of each respective match, while Highland acknowledged Iron Horse’s small but feisty scrumhalf as a standout player.

Highland continues to take on the best of the Western states, as they travel to Seattle this weekend to take on Chuckanut (WA) and Eastside (OR).

1: DJ Ferris (Matt Jensen @ 40:00), 2: Levi Card ( c ) (Kingston Liavaa @ 45:00), 3: Moises Peraza (Michael Western @45:00), 4: Sam Brookham (Justin Hill @ 45:00), 5: Kesni Tausinga (Nate Watchman @55:00), 6: Aaron Hanson (Josh Nilsen @ 45:00), 7: Ara Elkington (Andrew Jensen @ 45:00), 8: Maika Hafoka (Kap Pauni @ 40:00), 9: Sean Harwood (Kepu Lauti @ 45:00), 10: Danny Tuai ( c ) (Wini Elkington @ 50:00), 11: Eric Pauni (Josh Andersen @ 20:00), 12: Dion Stevens (Tevita Bloomfield @ 45:00), 13: Brigham Tukukino (Leva Bloomfield @ 50:00), 14: Etu Moli, 15: Tana Afeaki (Dane Madsen @ 45:00)

Scoring: (T) – Hafoka (3), T. Bloomfield(2), Hanson, A. Elkington, Tuai, E. Pauni, Anderson, Moli, Afeaki, Tukukino (Kicking summary not provided)

Monday, April 19, 2010

The bitter pill of defeat & Humble Pie

We all have tasted this pill over and over again. It is an essential part of building sustainable character and programs with deep roots.

Winning all of the time is like weight lifting with no weight on the bar. I did 100 reps to your 0. How much weight, resistance, competition did you have? Can't answer that question to go.

Check out the Highland website. Not one mention about the recent losses to Davis, United and Snow Canyon.

Easy to be proud of smashing teams 70,80, 100, 120 to zero. Humility in losing will take time.

The bitter pill of defeat is difficult to swallow because it exposes the thin veneer of the appearance of superiority and 25 years of unbeaten teams. Highland is discovering what it is like to compete on a level playing field. It will continue to have its ups and downs like all teams. But the downs are good because that is the only way you discover your weaknesses and the areas that need work and improvement. And it builds character because that is the way of life.

Don't sweat it Highland...join the club of occasional mediocrity and welcome to reality and our world.

Humble Pie is good for the soul.

Another score to proud of 107-0

U-19 v. Provo / 107-0

Highland’s U19’s took on first-year Provo in a game which was rescheduled one day later than originally scheduled. The game took place at Murray Rugby Stadium, under beautiful conditions. Highland started off quickly, with Highland putting in a try in the first minute. Provo, who was well-coached and had some success against us in the lineout early with some creative movement, couldn’t really manage to sustain anything over more than a phase or two. Standouts on the day included wing Josh Anderson, who raced to a hat trick of tries which included a nice pickup off of a kick ahead, scrumhalf Sean Harwood, and #10 Danny Tuai in the backs. In the forwards, the front row of DJ Ferris, Levi Card, and Moises Peraza all ran and rucked hard, and break Ara Elkington was like an 8th back in open play. The boys did some much-needed conditioning on the field following the game, showing a refusal to be satisfied with the status quo and realizing that just being happy with the 107-0 victory is not enough – we must continue to get better.

1: DJ Ferris, 2: Levi Card ( c ), 3: Moises Peraza, 4: Sam Brookham, 5: Kesni Tausinga, 6: Aaron Hanson, 7: Ara Elkington, 8: Maika Hafoka, 9: Sean Harwood, 10: Danny Tuai ( c ), 11: Eric Pauni, 12: Dion Stevens, 13: Wini Elkington, 14: Josh Anderson, 15: Tana Afeaki

Reserves: Michael Western, Kingston Liavaa, Matt Jensen, Justin Hill, Kap Pauni, Kepu Lauti, Etu Moli, Tevita Bloomfield, Brigham Tukukino, Jace Peterson

Saturday, April 17, 2010

The Black Planet hit by three meteorites (losses) today

The Highland Sophomore team was beaten by the United Sophomore team 37 to 32. A tough and very good game.

The Highland Varsity team was beaten by the Snow Canyon Warriors (St George) single school team 11 to 7 in Salt Lake.

And DC Rugby beat the Highland Sophomore A squad for the second time this season 17 - 7. Three weeks ago DC Rugby beat the same squad 42-17.

Highland showing they are like the rest of the teams in the league. Can be beaten on any given Saturday.

The 100+ to zero scores are sad anomalies of first year teams playing Highlands U-19 juggernaut. There is no meaningful or positive purpose to these games other than the 100-0 scores look pretty in the win column.The BIG W! It destroys the spirit and will of the other players, all new to the game.

Why do we allow this to continue?

Since Highland decimated Dixie 107-0 the team has been reduced to 9 players and may not make it through the season.

Who's conscience is bothered by this policy and practice? How do you sleep at night?

126-0 Another basketball score to be proud of ....

The Highland U-19 team smashes our brothers from Springville, 126 to 0. I am speechless.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

101- 0 ..... When is enough enough...shame!

Copied from the Highland Rugby website.

U-19 v. Dixie

Highlights: The game was over pretty quick against Dixie, who played hard all game but is a first year team with a lot of green players. Tries came early and often by our boys, who had go-forward all day long. It is still early season, so we are playing with some different lineups and seeing who we have where. All 15 starters were pulled at halftime of a runaway game, and although the bench was emptied, there was not much drop off from the starters to the reserves in a 101-0 victory. Great play by John Kacinski, Levi Card, Maika Hafoka, Dion Stevens, Eric Pauni, and Brigham Tukukino, among many others.

Lowlights: Placekicking is still inconsistent, and we need to continue to find a comfort level with each other and function as one…but there were great improvements there form last week.

1: DJ Ferris (Moises Peraza @ half), 2: Levi Card (Iniki Tauveli @ half), 3: Kesni Tausinga (Seni Fauonuku @half), 4: Sam Brookham (Kap Pauni @ half), 5: Matt Jensen (Justin Hill @ half), 6: Aaron Hanson (Nate Fairbanks @ half), 7: John Kacinski (Ara Elkington @ half), 8: Maika Hafoka (Kingston Liavaa @ half), 9: Sean Harwood (Mitch Larsen @ half), 10: Danny Tuai (Kepu Lauti @ half), 11: Eric Pauni (Etu Moli @ half), 12: Dion Stevens (Wini Elkington @ half), 13: Brigham Tukukino (Leva Bloomfield @ half), 14: Josh Anderson (Jace Peterson @ half) 15: Tana Afeaki (Dane Madsen @ half)

Other reserves: Michael Western, Jaxon Phippen, Josh Nilsen, Clyde Reaveley, George Kafalava, Percy Angilau, Tonga Angilau, Tyler Byrge, Sione Folaumoeloa, Isi Manu

Scoring – T: Card, Tausinga, Kacinski(2), Harwood, E. Pauni, Stevens, Tukukino, Anderson, A. Elkington(2), Phippen, L. Bloomfield (2), Madsen, Kafalava, Angilau K: Afeaki 3C, Stevens 3C, Madsen 2C

Monday, March 8, 2010

United Haka

Great high school tournament in St George, Utah

Skyline, Lowland, Springville, Mesa, United, Snow Canyon HS, Dixie and Hurricane fielded teams for 2 days of pre season rugby in sunny St George. This annual event is growing.

The highlight for me was watching the mixed team match between United and Springville. Players from both teams exchanged jerseys to create two evenly matched teams. It was a very competitive game and I don't believe anyone kept score. Players from both teams on each side.

I don't believe I have ever seen young men have so much fun. It was a thrill to watch.

The generally newer and less experienced players from Springville had a blast playing side by side with the more experienced United players. This was about having fun, learning and building the brotherhood of rugby.

Hats off to both coaches the players and the organizers of the tournament.We need much much more of this.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Friday, August 28, 2009

Rugby Strong

Kia Kaha

Monday, August 3, 2009

“Be Content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you.” - Lao Tzu

“There is nothing either good or bad,
but thinking makes it so.”
- William Shakespeare, “Hamlet

Monday, July 27, 2009

US high school rugby stars for NZ side

Salim Lancaster and Alex Pettiford are from Washington DC's Hyde Leadership Public Charter School which has been on front pages of American newspapers and in sports channels as the first US all-African-American high school rugby team.

Hyde's "The Pride" rugby side has developed a close relationship with the New Zealand Embassy in Washington which holds the annual Ambassador Shield match on the school grounds, raising US$10,000-$15,000.

Tal Bayer, Hyde-DC's head rugby coach and director of development, told that Salim and Alex are "awesome rugby athletes and honour roll students...

"They were chosen unanimously by their teammates and coaches for this scholarship programme."

In addition to attending classes, the students will have opportunities to train with the Auckland Rugby Academy and will see several professional and college teams play rugby.

Read the full story