During the 1700’s the Spanish were the dominant power in Central America and extended their influence north through the judicious use of religion and the sword. I always found it unusual that their American colonisation extended along the coasts of what are now Texas and California with some activity on the slopes of the southern Rockies leaving a large swathe in the middle of Texas fairly untouched.
Closer analysis, however, revealed that this area, a piece of territory measuring 800 by 400 miles North East of the Rio Grande was called Comencharia. It was where the Comanche dominated. As you know from US Western folklore, you don’t mess with the Comanche. Stories of their torture methods are grisly enough to keep a class of 15 year old schoolboys awake at night. They existed through exacting tribute from the Spanish; who were happy to pay to keep them at a distance, and by raiding for cattle and anything else they could carry away. These raids were generally at night under a full moon which has left us to this day with the somewhat romantic description of a full moon as a “Comanche Moon“ . These raids were anything but romantic.
On Friday night UCD crossed the big river and headed North East into Clontarf. They rattled in with a 100% winning record, a well deserved reputation for shiny rugby, and a strong representation from the Leinster rugby academy. They ran right into the Comanche.
There was a lot of rugby played over the weekend. I saw some on TV and I attended the Irish game on Saturday. Nothing compared to the intensity of the game in Castle Avenue. It was a brilliant game, not because of any sexy stuff, but because of the scary stuff. The tone was set in the first 5 minutes when Killian Lett, in a display of barbaric commitment, emptied his opposite man with a ferocious hit. From that point onwards UCD dominated possession but paid an ugly price for every attempted back line move as Clontarf set about them drawing gasps from the home support. The visitors simply could not generate any forward momentum and seemed to have no kicking game to vary their approach. To their credit they were massively courageous and kept trying but it was all to no avail as Clontarf got stronger and stronger as the game went on and once they had worked out some early problems with the referee proceeded to apply pressure at all phases of the game.
Ultimately it was the set piece which earned the points for victory with a perfect line-out and a dominant scrum dovetailing with savage aggressive defence earning penalties which man of the match David Joyce slotted in a 100% kicking display. The first half ended 6 all and as the second half progressed, and attrition started to tell on the visitors, Clontarf began to build. A penalty try saw ‘Tarf out to 19 – 9. Even a red card for Simon Crawford for a high hit which stopped the UCD fullback in his tracks (or was that his trachea) followed by a score to the visitors after a penalty rebound off the post, failed to quell the ‘Tarf momentum and the game finished with the 14 Comanche hunting UCD deep in their own 22 for two more penalties and a 25 – 16 victory.
Congratulations to all for a riveting defensive display. Congratulations, in particular, to the conditioning team whose outstanding work was well framed by the sight of the UCD Academy players lying around getting treatment for cramp as the Clontarf team stood over them waiting for the next hit.