It seemed like this might be the year that the Maryland Exiles reign as the number one club team in the Potomac Rugby Union would come to an end as they came into the PRU title game this past weekend.
The Exiles had defeated Baltimore Poly 29-19 in a very close game during the regular season, and the game had left both teams bruised and bloodied in a very physical encounter. The Exiles had suffered through several season ending injuries early on in the season, which was compounded when they lost outside center Matt Wagner to injury at the National Invitational Tournament in Elkhart, Ind. It seemed like this could be the year for a strong Baltimore Poly team to emerge as champions.
When the game kicked off, the Exiles immediately pushed the ball forward, interchanging the forwards and backs leading to flyhalf Luis Von Horoch's try in the corner. The conversion kick was wide to the left, and it looked like the Exiles might blow the game open. Baltimore Poly came out and pummeled the Exiles for the duration of the half with a forward attack that led to two unconverted tries and an Exiles team that looked like didn't know what had hit them.
The Exiles did take advantage of their limited opportunities by launching a blistering counterattack that started with a turnover secured by flanker Nicolas Rogy and finished by inside center Francisco Castro beneath the posts. At halftime, the Maryland Exiles led 12-10.
The Exiles defense tightened in the second half, which led to more offensive opportunities for the backs. Scrumhalf Brandon Drummond was able to snatch an errant pass and take it in for a converted try. Outside center Chris Minor then opened the Poly defense with some straight running. The ball was quickly made available and was passed to flanker David Canonse who fixed the last defender and passed the ball to Castro for his second try of the game. The Exiles were not finished however, as the team took a scrum against the head and No. 8 Stuart Dean was able to outrace the Poly defenders for the last try of the game.
The Exiles finish their season not only Maryland State Champions, but also finished 4th at the National Invitational Championship Tournament in the combination bracket.
"I was very proud of the team and the changes that the players made on the field to win this game," said Maryland coach Chris Pacious.
"Yes, it was a very impressive performance by our boys, but Baltimore Poly were very strong mentally and physically tonight. This was not an easy game at all," agreed Maryland coach Vincent Turbat.
Current USA Eagle and professional rugby player at Tarbes in France Inaki Basauri led an Exiles alumni group that gave their best wishes and lent very loud support for the Exiles team. After the game and trophy presentation, the Exiles celebrated their graduating seniors and other departing players as a large crowd of parents and supporters looked on. Final Score: Maryland Exiles 33 Baltimore Poly 10.