After a 7 a.m start on Saturday morning, twenty four Zurich rugby boys, a mix of varsity and JV, stepped off the train at Zuoz ready for their annual “Lyceum Alpinium” tournament. Unfortunately due to Munich’s last minute cancellation and the mysterious absence of the International School of Zug and Luzern, the tournament became a match between Zuoz and Zurich. This allowed for an unorthodox match organization of four 25 minute quarters.
The first quarter saw a ZIS all varsity squad kick off to Zuoz. The altitude seemed to affect the stamina of Zurich players. That, combined with numerous handling errors, led to no teams scoring with thirty seconds left on the clock. Fast hands out of the ruck saw Matt Stringer (’14) dive through a gap in the Zuoz defence to land heavily on the ball behind the line. He injured his shoulder in the process, proving that “taking one for the team” has never been truer than in school-boy rugby. A missed conversion left Zurich up by five points to nil at the end of the first quarter.
ZIS switched almost the entire team during the interval, giving the younger JV players a chance to prove their mettle. A few varsity players stayed on to fill in for missing numbers. Despite an air of determination and Zurich’s signature camaraderie, the JV was ultimately both physically overpowered and outplayed in experience, leaving Zuoz 19 points up after ten minutes. Although frustrated, Zurich JV rallied brilliantly and Tom Strachan (16′) took full advantage of a ZIS penalty to truck through the defense. He fought the ball to the ground to score JV’s first try. Zuoz failed to extend their lead when an overzealous center carried the ball into the dead zone.
The whistle for the third quarter blew and the varsity squad lined up against a Zuoz kick. Quick hands to the wing gave Lachy Hewson (’15) the chance to score a “far-out!” try in the corner. Will Tengtio (’15) getting caught in the tackle allowed an offload to Guido Sironi (’14) that resulted in another Zurich try. Zuoz proved that they weren’t beaten yet when an agile Zuoz back majestically broke through Zurich’s defense and less than majestically touched the ball down. The converted try brought the Lions back to a state of attention. The hours of training for continuity proved a worthwhile endeavour with Nick Clarke (’14) and Chris Nilsson (’16) scoring after receiving offloads from tackles and placing Zurich comfortably in the lead. The last varsity quarter ended satisfyingly with Nick Clarke successfully sending a penalty through the uprights for three points.
In the final quarter, JV once again got ready to play against the more experienced Zuoz varsity squad. It seemed as though they were heading for a repeat of their first half after an early Zuoz try. Fortunately, Will Tengtio, who had stepped in as ZIS open side flanker, scored an aggressive try after intercepting a Zuoz pass and handing off the opposing scrum-half. The champagne moment of the competition then came when a Zuoz back ran through Zurich’s entire defensive line, side-stepping several players in order to break free and place the ball down between posts. The JV game ended with comfortable victory for Zuoz.
Given the massive score differences between the JV and varsity matches and the drop out from Munich, honours for this year’s Lyceum Alpinium Trophy were shared between the Zurich and Zuoz teams. The two teams showed good will towards one another that evening by gathering at the local hostelry. The final scores were ZIS 14, Zuoz 34 for the JV game and ZIS 28, Zuoz 7 for the varsity game.