Indigenous Australian Rugby Team & Indigenous Warriors
Updated September 28 with Match Recap by David John Conyers
On Wednesday, September 26 the Indigenous Australian Rugby Team defeated the all Native-American Representative rugby team, the Indigenous Warriors 97-7 at the University of Denver’s Diane Wendt Sports Field. All scores were scored by IART players, as Warriors used several IART players as replacements.
The IART said that “The score did not matter at all in this game. We are so blessed to come together as one family from two indigenous communities, with some of our boys even pulling on a jersey for the Warriors, and they were so honoured to do so. What a game of passion for our people.”
Liam Bilston is pictured below wearing the Warriors jersey. Some Misfits rugby players were at the match and their photos appear below.
The Indigenous Warriors were able to have 15 players for the match. The numbers did not matter as the IART provided some replacements from their team during the match. What did matter was that two indigenous rugby teams were on the pitch at the same time. The U.S. Indigenous representative side that was comprised of players from many different tribes. The Indigenous Australian Rugby Team is an under-25 squad comprised of players of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders descent. For more about the players and the IART tour read the preview article.
Indigenous Warriors vs. IART Match Recap by David John Conyers
Full-time IAIR 97-7; Halftime 59-0
“The marquee event of the 2018 Australian Indigenous North American tour took place 5280 feet above sea level last night at the famed grounds of the University of Denver. The match was played in perfect conditions that accompanied native American pageantry and a reunification of two races far removed from each other, but both on common terms.
The two teams first met in 2016 in the remote Navajo settlement of Gallup, New Mexico. The conditions that night horrific to say the least, given the match was played at a higher altitude amidst a snow storm blizzard and temperatures as low as -15 Celsius.
The main event started with war cry’s and dances from both races, and as the match unfolded, a beautiful spectacle of respect, fair play, and sharing of some the Australian players at the break to bolster the Native American ranks, all added to the spirit of this marvelous celebration of sport.
The Australians were keen to perform tonight given the battering they copped against the Canadian provinces. Buoyed from a 3-day break from games and a solid 30- minute yoga session staged by the internal staff the team displayed more purpose and energy.
The mile-high match was but a minute old when the backs opened the scoreboard down the left flank courtesy of a good ball to Tiwira Gristwood from standoff David Green. Gameday skipper, Peter Fitzsimmons got the first of his brace when he punished the defence off back to back penalties. The backline had developed a new pattern of attack whereby the ball was placed in behind the defence line as a reaction to the hard-pressing Canadians. This paid off when David Green plotted the path for Josh to catch the well-placed kick at the edge of the pitch.
Fitzsimmons got his second after 7 pairs of hands shifted the ball 50 meters upfield with some enterprising play. Wingman Tiriwa Gristwood got his second after a simple hands movement to the wing caught the Native America defence short. The Aussie skipper was again thick in the action when he attacked a restart kick that never made the 10 meters and bolted 40 meters upfield to set up the third phase try for Joseph Wilson.
Outside back Anthony Fuller soon slotted back into his attacking role after the Canadian debacle at the border to gouge a huge track in the opponent’s territory before offloading to the ever-present Fitzsimons for his hat-trick. Both on field wingers, Josh Smith and Gristwood were again in the corners to score on the cusp of ½ time and a commanding 59 -0 lead established at the long break.
The second stanza opened with a flurry when again the light-footed Fuller wrong footed 6 defenders to claim his second five-pointer. A goodwill gesture from the Australian coaching staff saw them deliver 4 players to the bench of the American natives that immediately changed the dynamics of their performance. The added starch enabled the Americans some much needed go forward and resulted in their only try of the game through tough man Liam Bilston.
Elliot Thompson continued his good tour form with a well-deserved try and his hard running.
A quick lineout option resulted in a long-range searching try to Deon Evans minutes after he entered the play. Isaiah Huett again opened-up the field with his gliding running play and raced away to score.
A back to back brace of tries to David Green who has emerged as a real attacking weapon with his quick feet and decision making upset opponents. The GI factor ended the game when Evans closed out the game with the last try and a score line 97-7 in favour of the Indigenous Australians.
The Australians made the most of their opportunities and began to execute the style of freelance they do best, backed by instinct and great awareness.
Best for IAIR were Anthony Fuller who made a great return to the team with his powerful runs, captain Peter Fitzsimmons who bagged three and guided the team to an emphatic win was also impressive. Wingman Tiriwa Gristwood also scored three tries largely born by his great positioning and finishing prowess. Connor Lynch turned in his best game of the tour with a high work rate from up front as did Mitch Hudson. Flanker Jerone Willis kept himself busy all night in the loose.
The team plays California State University Friday night Pacific time to wind up the tour. A return to Viewpoint Highschool in Compton, Los Angeles was one of the tour highlights with the players and staff spending the afternoon in the school classrooms and seeing the power of sport and leadership development through rugby in arguably one of America’s most socially disadvantaged areas.
The Australian Didgeridoo now has a baseline configuration with the rapper composition the two races recorded together in the Viewpoint studio. A great afternoon melding cultures and beliefs was had by all.
Indigenous Warriors & IART Squads
Indigenous Warriors: 1 Eric Billy 2 Joel Luevan 3 Jacob Billy 4 Michael Charles 5 Andrew Singer 6 Atsee Bahe Montano 7 Isaac Stabler 8 Avery Lonewolf 9 Mateo Cardiel 10 Tom Rydell 11 George Munoz Jr 12 Cristian Sarmento 13 Maz Gordon 14 Brandon Barber 15 Pablo Gariby + Head Coach Timaris Montano (Colin Coleman & Samuel Gray-Fisher were previously announced in the match preview, but could not attend)
IART Squad vs. Indigenous Warriors: 1 Aaron Brown 2 Bryce Adamson 3 Connor Lynch 4 Mitchell Hudson 5 Braeden Smith (VC) 6 Josef Wilson 7 Jerone Wills 8 Peter Fitzsimmons (C) 9 Ethan Wikaira 10 David Green 11 Tirawa Gristwood 12 Anthony Fuller 13 Isaiah Huet 14 Josh Smith 15 Ruben House 16 Kai Lowah17 Liam Bilston 18 Elliot Thompson 19 Daniel Rosendale 20 Leonard Snowball 21 Aaron Williams 22 Deon Evans-Ao 23 Matt Saul
The Indigenous Australian Rugby Team Tour
The Indigenous Australian Rugby Team is an under-25 squad comprised of players of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders descent. Selection to the invitational team was based on the contributions made as a player, as well as to their communities.
The tour is a cultural exchange for the team and not only is the team playing six matches during a two week period, but it has also been traveling extensively and has been involved in community events.
The Indigenous Australian Invitational Rugby Team began their six-match rugby tour of the U.S. and Canada with a 72-19 win against Army West Point B at the Anderson Rugby Complex on the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y. on September 18. The team then traveled to Boston and then to Portland, Maine where they beat the Portland Rugby Football Club 69-19 at Deering Memorial Stadium on September 19.
The third match was against the Rugby Quebec Selects on Friday, September 21 at Percival-Molson Stadium at McGill University in Montreal, Quebec. Playing three matches within 7 days proved to be a challenge as the team lost 26-12. A cultural highlight was attending the 17th annual Powwow.
On Sunday, September 23, the team faced the Ontario Blues Sr. Development XV losing 50-21 at the Oshawa Vikings Rugby Club. The following day the team visited Niagara Falls and met with the Iroquois Roots Rugby club in a cultural exchange with the Mohawk nation.
Then it was on to Toronto before flying to Denver for their 5th match on September 26th. The IART emerged with a 97-7 win against the U.S. Indigenous representative team, the Indigenous Warriors. Culturally to have two Indigenous teams play each other will be a cherished memory.
The IART concludes their match portion of the tour on September 28 against California State University – Long Beach at 4 pm and leaves the following day for home from Los Angeles.
IART Tour match selections
IART vs. Army West Point: 1 Kai Lowah (c) 2 Jerome Wills 3 Liam Bilston 4 Braeden Smith 5 Elliot Thompson 6 Josef Wilson 7 Peter Fitzsimmons (VC) 8 Leonard Snowball 9 Ethan Wikaria-Noosa 10 Aaron Williams 11 Matt Saul 12 Anthony Fuller 13 Isaiah Huet-Emerald 14 Corbin Walters 15 Deon Evans-Ao 16 Connor Lynch 17 Aaron Brown 18 Mitchell Hudson 19 Daniel Rosendale 20 Bryce Adams 21 Sayman Shepperd 22 David Green 23 Ruben House 24 Aiden Wikaria 25 Josh Smith 26 Tiriwa Gristwood
IART vs. Portland: 1 Connor Lynch 2 Bryce Adamson 3 Aaron Brown 4 Mitchell Hudson 5 Daniel Rosendale 6 Josef Wilson 7 Corbin Walters 8 Liam Bilston 9 Tiriwa Gristwood 10 David Green 11 Josh Smith 12 Aiden Wikaira 13 Deon Evans-Ao 14 Shayman Shepperd 15 Ruben House 16 Jerome Wills 17 Kai Lowah 18 Elliot Thompson 19 Braeden Smith 20 Peter Fitzsimmons 21 Leonard Snowball 22 Anthony Fuller 23 Aaron Williams 24 Ethan Wikaria-Noosa 25 Isaiah Huet-Emerald 26 Matt Saul
IART vs. Rugby Quebec Selects: 1 Kai Lowah (c) 2 Jerome Wills 3 Liam Bilston 4 Elliot Thompson 5 Daniel Rosendale 6 Josef Wilson 7 Peter Fitzsimmons (VC) 8 Leonard Snowball 9 Ethan Wikaria-Noosa 10 Aaron Williams 11 Corbin Walters 12 Isaiah Huet 13 Deon Evans-Ao14 Josh Smith 15 Ruben House 16 Bryce Anderson 17 Aaron Brown 18 Connor Lynch 19 Mitchell Hudson 20 Braeden Smith 21 Tiriwa Gristwood 22 David Green 23 Matt Saul 24 Aiden Wikaria 25 Sayman Shepperd 26 Anthony Fuller
IART Squad vs. Ontario Blues Sr. Development XV: 1 Kai Lowah 2 Bryce Adamson 3 Aaron Brown 4 Elliot Thompson 5 Braeden Smith 6 Daniel Rosendale (C) 7 Corbin Walters (VC) 8 Leonard Snowball 9 Aaron Williams 10 David Green 11 Shayman Shepperd 12 Aiden Wikaira 13 Isaiah Huet 14 Josh Smith 15 Matt Saul 16 Jerone Wills 17 Liam Bilston 18 Connor Lynch 19 Mitchell Hudson 20 Peter Fitzsimmons 21 Josef Wilson 22 Tirawa Gristwood 23 Ruben House 24 Deon Evans-Ao 25 Anthony Fuller + Ethan Wikaira (HIA)
IART vs. Indigenous Warriors: 1 Aaron Brown 2 Bryce Adamson 3 Connor Lynch 4 Mitchell Hudson 5 Braeden Smith (VC) 6 Josef Wilson 7 Jerone Wills 8 Peter Fitzsimmons (C) 9 Ethan Wikaira 10 David Green 11 Tirawa Gristwood 12 Anthony Fuller 13 Isaiah Huet 14 Josh Smith 15 Ruben House 16 Kai Lowah17 Liam Bilston 18 Elliot Thompson 19 Daniel Rosendale 20 Leonard Snowball 21 Aaron Williams 22 Deon Evans-Ao 23 Matt Saul
IART Tour Matches, Clinic, and Preview Article
- Sep. 18 vs. Army West Point at U.S. Military Academy- W 72-19
- Sep. 19 vs. Portland RFC in Portland, Maine – W 69-19
- Sep. 21 vs. Rugby Quebec Selects in Montreal, Quebec L 26-12 Preview
- Sep. 23 vs Ontario Blues Senior Development XV in Oshawa, Canada L 50-21
- Sep. 26 Indigenous Warriors at the University of Denver W 97-7 Preview
- Sep. 28 California State University-Long Beach 4 pm PT
- Sep. 29 Depart Los Angeles
IART & Indigenous Warriors Photos