On Saturday, May 15th, Mystic River held its first full-day rugby event at Pine Banks Park since fall, 2019, and what a beautiful day it wound up being. Mystic River Youth Rugby started off the day bright and early with a fast & informative youth clinic. The kids had a great time, and it was a perfect way to commence “Club Day.” Two Mystic men’s matches were set to follow up the clinic, and a pitch-side barbecue was there to feed the traveling teams and the Mystic faithful!
Mystic River’s Developmental match against Providence Rugby Club was the first of the men’s matches on the day. Early on, Providence committed a few penalties in their own end, giving Mystic number 8 Barrett Lyons the space to catch a wide pass from flyhalf Mikey Rudzinsky and trot in for the first converted try of the day. Mystic’s defense gave the spark they needed, forcing a Providence turnover to lead to the next Mystic try from wing CJ Cooper. Providence got themselves on the scoreboard to make it 12-5. After knocking at the Providence doorstep a few times, Mystic capitalized before halftime as fullback Aidan Smith legged out a support line and dotted it down under the posts to set the score at 19-5 at half.
The second half started the same way it ended with a second try from Smith, making it 24-5. Providence refused to give up and made it a two-score game, 24-10. Mystic’s Cooper reintroduced himself to the in-goal with his second try of the day, to make the score 29-10. Mystic continued running downhill until Providence intentionally knocked-on a sure Mystic try, resulting in a Mystic penalty try. With the score 36-10 and less than 10 minutes to play, Mystic scored another converted try before Providence would end the match with a converted try of their own. Scrumhalf Nate Jakaitis converted 3/6 tries, not including the penalty try, which would add up to the end result of 43-17, Mystic.
Mystic River’s Premier side closed out the day with a late come-from-behind victory against Colorado XO, Glendale’s newest Crossover/High Performance Academy side. The team is largely compiled of former and current high-level athletes ranging multiple sports, from D1 college football to D1 college basketball.
The XO displayed their high work ethic & athleticism early on and got on the scoreboard first with a penalty in front of the posts. Down 0-3, Mystic knew experience was on their side, so after taking advantage of every set piece and getting the ball deep into XO territory, scrumhalf Darren Chan found co-captain center Adnan Kawuma with a flat ball down the weak side to put Mystic up, 5-3. Mystic wound up back in XO territory shortly after, and trusting their technique in the maul up front, hooker TJ Downey found his way in for a meat pie, making it 10-3. XO, however, regained their restart and centered the ball for a converted try, tying it up at 10. The XO flyhalf was shown a yellow card shortly after for a dangerous tip tackle on Kawuma, and moments later, on a separate penalty, Chan would close out the half with a penalty kick in front of the posts, giving Mystic a 13-10 lead.
The second half started off with XO’s #13 receiving a red card for leaping dangerously into Mystic flyhalf Ian Luciano’s head, forcing him to exit the game. Mystic had a 2-man advantage, but they knew they still had a long game to play and that the sin binned XO would return soon. Despite being shorthanded, XO would strike next, shoving their way across the goal line to take the lead back from Mystic, 13-15. Colorado had a solid number of supporters travel for the match, but the energy from The Flock was palpable in Mystic’s return to rugby at Pine Banks. Colorado would make it 13-18 with a penalty kick, but Mystic was relentless, and with less than ten minutes, reserve flyhalf Mikey Rudzinsky hit wing Brian Patterson with a wide, weak-side pass to tie it up at 18 apiece. With momentum, Mystic kept their foot on the gas and fullback Nick Fujiwara split the gap and gave a perfect offload to Kawuma, who would finish in the corner for his second try of the afternoon. Chan (1/4 conversions; 1/1 penalty) converted the kick from near the touchline to give a 7-point lead, and with adrenaline flowing and the sidelines roaring, Mystic River finished the job victorious, 25-18.
Mystic River’s Man of the Match against Providence was flanker Mike “Mook” Moscaritolo, as he seemed to be everywhere at once, tackling every Providence ball carrier he could and supporting offensive rucks clinically, giving the Mystic Developmental side exactly the kind of energy they needed on the day. Mystic’s Man of the Match against Colorado XO was fullback Nick Fujiwara, as his tackling expertise was game-changing, his hands and footwork gave the backline a chance in crucial moments, and in the end, his half-break-to-offload for the game-winner speaks for itself. The Cambridge native has been a stalwart force for Mystic River Rugby Club over the last several years and his stellar performance against Colorado XO said everything about what that means.
Mystic Nation, thank you all for such a fantastic & successful return to Malden. The club can’t wait to play in front of you all again!