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Thursday, June 2, 2016

2015 Indiginous Australian USA Tour Wrap.(Better Late Than Never)

Back in the fall, I had written about a planned rugby tour in the USA by Darrell Morris and his Indigenous Australian Invitational Rugby side (IAIR)that would share their Australian Aboriginal culture and love of rugby with Americans. The tour did take place and was very successful for all parties involved. I was simply slow getting pictures downloaded.

The rugby tour, which involved 6 matches played against the University of New Mexico, the University of Arizona, San Diego State, Long Beach State, The Gallup RFC, and the Griffins Rep team. The tourists from down under went 5-1, losing only the the Griffins in their last game. ("We were Injury ravaged in that game", recalled Morris.
The Zia Symbol on the New Mexico State Flag.
Perhaps the highlight of the trip was a match played in the snow in Gallup, New Mexico.
The tourists, in the red, got to see and play in snow for the first time in Gallup, New Mexico

For the Tourists from Down Under, this was their first time seeing snow. Timaris Montano, the force of nature involved with the Gallup RFC reported "They loved it! It felt like a dream when the big flakes were falling down. Some of the men on the sideline rolled around in it." Many of the players are from Queensland-an area better known for heat, humidity and crocodiles, so this was clearly the coldest conditions they had ever played in. 

While in the Navajo Nation, the Australians were able to visit Monument Valley National Park, stayed at Kayenta High School's Gym, as well as the Gallup Community Pantry and the tourists all did two hours of Community service. They also had a chance to eat Navajo Tacos and grilled Mutton. 

The Australians brought their rugby road show of 28 players and 6 support staff to California. I was able to meet Darrell
Getting a chance to meet Darrell Morris, on the right

and his players when they played the Cal State Long Beach RFC on a sun splashed Saturday. By this point of the tour, some of the players where coming down with upper respiratory symptoms, as well as some nicks and injuries. That did not prevent them from beating Long Beach in a very spirited game with lots of ball in hand and very open play.
Australians break away for a try in the first half.

Line out between IAIR and Cal State Long Beach

Hand shakes all around after a clean, hard-fought game between Long Beach state and the IAIR squad.

Darrell Morris told me that  one surprise on the US tour was "the level of rugby was a lot higher than I thought it would be. It's culture has been indebted into the US sports culture." (I.E post match
functions, etc) 

Darrell is currently in the process of putting an IAIR side together to take to Canada in 2018. 
The Wombat Mascot for the IAIR looking forward to  Making it to Canada in 2018...

I was very happy that Darrell and his players were able to meet up with a Native American side, and that Chee and Timaris Montano moved heaven and earth to make the match happen in New Mexico. I was also happy that connections of my connections helped put together matches for the Australians. To think that this entire trip started with a simple e-mail that I received from Darrell. I know there can be some problems with the internet and social media for some people, but in this case, the internet allowed a great experience for both hosts and tourists in the name of the oval ball. 

Most of the time when you hear news stories about Native Americans and Indigenous Australians, it's usually bad news. This trip and the rugby games on the 2015 tour brought some much-needed positive news on both sides of the pacific.

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