The Cal Poly Rugby Club have completed an 11 day tour of Scotland, visiting and playing matches in Edinburgh, Oban and Glasgow.
While in Edinburgh, the group visited the Edinburgh Castle, toured Murrayfield Stadium, watched a local Premiership match, competed in a traditional Highland games competition and participated in a training session led by current Scotland International players Hamish Watson and Sam Hidalgo-Clyne.
On tour day 4 (9/4), the group toured Murrayfield Stadium, the home of Scottish Rugby. We received a behinds-the-scene insight into the match preparations for the Scottish rugby team, including spending time in the change-rooms and on the playing pitch. On the same evening, we played the University of Edinburgh, losing a competitive match against a team considered the strongest University program in Scotland. Alex Wormer, Ryan Cooper, Nate Sylvia and Eddie McFarland were the leading performers for the Mustangs.
Between Edinburgh and Oban, the bus trip detoured through the Highlands, where the group were educated on William Wallace and the Wars of Scottish Independence. We visited the Wallace Monument in the city of Stirling and enjoyed a Haggis lunch en route to Oban.
In Oban (Day 6- 9/6) an inexperienced team featuring many of our younger tour members played out a thrilling 41-39 loss to Oban Lorne Rugby Club. With seven tries each, goal kicking was the difference in the scoreline, and our team had opportunities to win late in the match but were held out by a tough and experienced opposition. No. 8 Jerod Adams scored his first ever rugby try in a strong individual effort. Isaac Stoll and Nico Thayer were also strong performers in the forward pack, while John Imobersteg tackled well above his weight from halfback and wing.
Day 7 (9/7) the boys completed a grueling yet enjoyable day of canyoning outside of Oban. The players scaled a river and waded through icy waters in a tough yet rewarding team-building day. The guys relaxed afterwards with a tour of the Oban whiskey distillery and a team dinner on Oban harbor.
The tour group has completed the final leg of the tour in Glasgow, spending three nights in Glasgow and playing a final tour match against the University of Glasgow (Day 8- 9/8). We fielded a near full-strength team against the University of Glasgow, who are rated as one of the top University rugby programs in Scotland.
In typically wet Scottish conditions, our team struggled to hold onto possession early, providing Glasgow with most of the early ball and field position. We found ourselves down 19-7 at the half-time break, with an Alex Wormer try and conversion our only points. Despite losing key forward Salvador Guevara to a nasty facial laceration just before halftime, the team felt we were still very much in contention at the break.
The Mustangs gained control of the match in the second half, off the back of a dominant scrummaging performance. With scrum ascendency, the team felt more confident throwing the ball around and as a result more passes started to stick, allowing us some continuity in attack. The Glasgow defense was very strong, however, and good enough to hold us out for most of the final half. With 10 minutes left in the match a very crafty and accurate cross-field kick from Corey McGrillen hit winger Marshall Brusca on the chest for a try. An unsuccessful conversion left us within a converted try (7 points) for the remainder of the match. We had a few opportunities to score a late try to even the match, but the University of Glasgow defense remained tough, and their more experienced players wound the clock down with repeated set pieces, for a disappointing but respectable 19-12 loss.
Day 9 (9/9) saw the group attend a Pro14 match between the Glasgow Warriors and Welsh team Ospreys. It was the first live professional rugby some of the guys had seen, and we were very impressed by the speed, physicality and skill level of the match, won by the hometown Warriors.
To conclude the tour, we spent our final day (Day 10- 9/10) enjoying a speedboat tour of Loch Lamond. We made a number of stops around the scenic Loch for lunch and some well earned beers.
The tour group travel home (Day 11- 9/11) weary, but in good sprits. Strong personal bonds were formed during our time away, we have learned many cultural lessons, and been immersed in a very high standard of rugby during the tour. We hope to take these experienced into the upcoming season, which promises to be a successful one for the Mustangs.