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Brad Shaw sliced a spheroid rugby football 22 meters into the thick, sticky air, through the uprights, giving the Columbus Rugby Football Club boys team a two-point win over Culver and the Division II state title Monday at the Richard Wigh Complex.
Columbus celebrated the 15-13 victory after Shaw’s kick from the left sideline with about 4 minutes remaining. It locked up the 15-year-old club’s second state title and first since 2005.
Shaw said he felt sort of like legendary NFL place kicker Adam Vinatieri after making the clutch kick, though without the championship rings.
“The pressure was on,” said Graeme Shawe, the club’s boys head coach and Brad’s father. It was a good (four) minutes after that kick. So it was a winning kick, but it’s the defense that won it as well. It wasn’t just the kick.”
In the immediate moments after the game, local high-schoolers in striped green, black and white uniforms — the colors from the club’s 1997 inception — ran wildly, searching for each other, any type of embrace.
“It was a tremendous performance,” Graeme Shaw said. “Probably the best we’ve ever played all season. It was in our backyard. Fantastic.”
There were nothing but smiling faces after Monday afternoon’s finish in smoldering temperatures reaching the 90-degree mark. But it wasn’t looking so pretty for Columbus at halftime, after Culver had established a 10-7 advantage off two tries, comparable to touchdowns in football.
Early in the second half, Brad Shaw, who plays fly-half, which is like a quarterback, ran left for about a 10-meter score, putting Columbus on top 12-10. Culver answered with a kick, leaving Columbus down one with 16:30 remaining.
A Culver penalty set up Brad Shaw’s game-winner. After the foul, Columbus opted to kick instead of go for the try.
With time running thin, Graeme Shaw was confident his son’s leg would get the job done. He’d seen evidence of it the day before.
“We spent a good hour or so — just me and him — kicking,” Brad Shaw said. “Right where I kicked (the game-winner), we did four or five yesterday, so I was ready for it. I knew it was going to come.”
To add to Shaw’s scoring, Ryan Jenkins and Diego Ventura each added a try in the first of the two 22-minute halves.
The game was played with a running clock. The Division I championship between powerhouses Penn and Cathedral followed the Division II game.
About 10 to 12 Columbus boys will represent the Indiana All-Stars against the Kentucky All-Stars at 2 p.m. Saturday at Richard Wigh. The men’s Division III state championship will follow.
“Rugby brings the world together, honestly,” Jenkins said. “I’m hoping we can make Columbus Rugby a bigger club in the future.”
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