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Celebrating our U20 Mixed Touch Rugby Champions!

At the beginning of the 2019-20 school year, a group of freshman girls petitioned the Athletic Director, High School Principal and Head of School to appeal the decision that we do not run sports teams for High School during Season 4 since we are too busy with end of year projects, AP exams and other special events. Eventually, it was agreed that since they were Grade 9 students and so unlikely to be significantly impacted by the AP exam schedule we would permit the introduction of the Touch Rugby team to our school’s sporting calendar.

However, that was the year COVID broke and no Season 4 sport team has run again until 2022-23. With sports opening up again this year, these students – now seniors – were given their chance to finally compete: We set up the U20 Mixed Touch Rugby ? team for Season 4 and joined the International Schools’ Sports Federation of Hong Kong (ISSFHK) league! Well, after all the training and hard work that has gone on during the busy time of April and May, the team had won all of their fixtures and reached the playoffs!

After falling behind to the first score of the match there was concern on the sidelines, but the team fought back with tries from Maia Itakura-Prepscius, G12, and Abir Malhotra, G10, putting the Eagles in front going into halftime. However, in the second half our opponents, International College Hong Kong (ICHK), came back strongly to cross the line for the next two scores and go back in front 3-2. This prompted AIS into a fiercely determined state and they advanced upfield for Nicholas Wu, G12, to burst through the defense and score the equalizing score before a fiercely competitive end to the game ensued with both sides nearly scoring the winning try! However, the final whistle blew and the game ended in regular time: 3-3.

What then followed was a period of extra time with a player removed from each side after every two minutes and a sudden death score to produce the winner. The game remained high on entertainment and drama with all spectators watching on the sidelines feeling extremely tense. There was a moment when AIS senior, Nick Wu once again sped past the ICHK defenders for what seemed like the winning score and the celebrations began but then were quickly dashed as the referee called everyone back claiming that Wu had been touched just before scoring!

However, the Eagles were not to be denied, and as the game boiled down to three against three, AIS superior fitness and skill level under pressure told. Morgan Rines pressured her opponent forcing them into an error that let AIS in. Rines fed Itakura-Prepscius the ball and she broke upfield to take the last tackle and pass on to Malhotra who crossed for the golden winning score! It was superb!

Oh, yes, they did it! Our U20 Mixed Rugby Team are Champions and have taken home gold medals. ?

We could not be more proud!! Dreams really do come true. Congratulations to all the players across the entire squad and to Coach Pagel for taking them to the top! After that petition to get this team off the ground, it was fitting that the dream eventually became a reality before some of the students graduated and this talented group of players ended up as champions! We are very proud of you all: Well done Eagles!