Indigenous Australia Rugby Team Conclude Tour Beating Long Beach State

Long Beach State Rugby vs. Indigenous Australia Rugby

The article was updated on September 30 with the inclusion of David John Conyers match recap and the tour awards.

The Indigenous Australian Rugby Team concluded their match portion of the tour on September 28 against Long Beach State Rugby Club winning 58-7. The team will return to Queensland, Australia from Los Angeles on Friday.

The IART had a 4-2 record, going undefeated in the U.S. against two collegiate teams, a club team, and an indigenous representative side while losing to Quebec and Ontario Provincial teams.

In the final match, they faced Long Beach State, who they previously played in 2015. Last Spring, Long Beach State a member of the D1AA Gold Coast Rugby Intercollegiate Conference, advanced to the National Semi-Finals, losing 20-17 to Nevada.

This Fall, the team began practicing two weeks ago and the match against the IART was the first one since April. The team is in the process of integration a number of Freshmen and preparing for a short Fall season of four addition October matches.

Long Beach State Rugby Club was formed in 1974 and emphasizes the “Tradition, Excellence. and Brotherhood. A documentary video below by acclaimed photographer, Danny Zapalac discusses the culture and the history of the CSULB Rugby program.

CSULB vs IART Match Recap – David John Conyers

Friday, September 28th, 2018
Fulltime IAIR 58 CSUB 7; Halftime 24-7

The touring Indigenous Australian team wound up their arduous 6-match North American tour yesterday with a hard-fought victory over their California hosts. The 10 try to 1 win took a while to compile as the more that tired Australians took thirty minutes to get into their stride and launch a more threatening attack due to some solid defence from their opponents.

Hard running winger Boris got over the line 3 minutes in with a show of his speed and agility. It would be another 18 minutes before the sting wore off the Cal State team, who mounted some solid raids into the Indigenous territory. A powerful scrum and immediate phase play after allowed the Aussies good field position for the hard-working hooker Bryce Adamson to crash over for his 5 pointer.

Minutes later the tide would turn and a breakout from a ruck by the CSU flanker saw him race 30 metres untouched to the try line to trail 7-12.

The visitors were able to punch in two quick tries just 5 minutes from the long break through some inventive play, firstly by David Green who chipped in behind the defence line for hard Chasing Boris to notch his second. Green was again in the action just a minute later when his quickly shuffling feet and strength overpowered the local lad’s defences to take his team to a 24-7 halftime advantage.

The second half commenced with another quick score as Anthony Fuller ran a great support line to gather in a Deon pass to extend the score to 29-7. 10 minutes later David Green was again weaving his magic when he kicked infield after another deceiving run to find the fast chasing Anthony Fuller who dotted it down close to the sticks and what now was becoming an unassailable lead at 36-7.

With 20 minutes left on the clock, the IAIR team rushed in a further four tries, the first of from an Aiden offload in heavy forward progress to his supporting teammate in Peter Fitzsimmons.

Winger Shayman Shephard stepped his opposite number and popped a great ball to Deon who raced in to score the teams next touchdown, taking the score to 48-7 with 10 minutes of time remaining.

The next passage of play involved some great interchange passing and ball movement among the forwards and flanker Josef Wilson was rewarded for his strong game with a try.

The final points of the game came from the tactical kicking attack plan the team had implemented on tour and the tours leading try scorer Isiah Huet claimed his 7th when he fielded a well-placed kick from scrumhalf Arron Williams.

The 2018 touring team left the USA late last night to return to homeland Australia with a 4/2 record of achievement. The two back to back provincial games were ill-timed for success due to the tough game cluster at that stage of the tour. This gave the boys renewed hunger to stay undefeated in America.
The tour was a resounding success in terms of social and cultural exchanges between the various races the Indigenous team intersected with.

The leadership award was presented to Bathurst’s Peter Fitzsimmons who earned the respect of his mentors on and off the field.

IART Tour Awards

  • Susan Green Memorial Medal: Given to the player who showed exceptional leadership skills – Peter Fitzsimmons
  • Player of the Tour: David Green

CSU-Long Beach & IART Squads

CSULB: 1 Adam Sanchez 2 Parker Dixon 3 Blake Gomez 4 Sergio Pineda 5 Evan Morff 6 Luke Heynen 7 mike McGlone 8 Bruce Yun 9 Isaiah Lutali 10 Steven Bodley 11 jay Fisher 12 Jarod Leuta-Markey 13 Ewan Scott 14 Siona Suavva 15 Sierra Arteaga Replacements: Shuaib Ahmad, Justin Griffin, Ricardo Medina, Jesse Ronquillo, Scott Carso, Juan Rios, Jose Castillo, Zion Asuega,+ Head Coach Jason Reynolds

IART Squad vs. CSULB: 1 Kai Lowah 2 Bryce Adamson 3 Connor Lynch 4 Mitchell Hudson 5 Elliot Thompson (C) 6  Josef Wilson 7 Peter Fitzsimmons 8 Braeden Smith 9 Ethan Wikaira 10 David Green (VC) 11 Matt Saul 12 Anthony Fuller 13 Isaiah Huet 14 Josh Smith 15 Deon Evans-Ao 16 Jerone Wills 17 Liam Bilston 18 Aaron Brown 19 Daniel Rosendale 20 Leonard Snowball 21 Aaron Williams 22 Tirawa Gristwood 23 Aiden Wikaira 24 Ruben House 25 Shayman Shepherd

The Indigenous Australian Rugby Team Tour Matches

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. The Warriors fielded a team with 15 players and borrowed replacements from the IART. The score was not the most important part of the match as culturally to have two Indigenous teams play each other will be a cherished memory.

The Indigenous Australian Rugby Team concluded their match portion of the tour on September 28 against Long Beach State Rugby Club winning 58-7. The team will return to Queensland, Australia from Los Angeles on Friday.

Cultural Tour Aspects & Players

The process of being selected for the Indigenous Australian Rugby Team tour is a rigorous one that may take two years. Devonport Bulls 21-year old prop Aaron Brown was the only Tasmanian selected for the tour.

Brown indicated in an interview with The Advocate, that “I had to put in an application two years ago and it wasn’t until a panel of three selectors decided I should be given a chance. I am looking forward to meeting new blokes and making long life friends over there.”

Aaron Brown (Left) with NRL Indigenous All-Star, NRL Cowboy & PNG International Ray Thompson

The North Queensland Cowboy House has been changing the lives of indigenous disadvantaged students for many years. Their story is told through a video by Wide World of Sports.

What are players backgrounds and what do tours mean for participants? A glimpse of that may be seen by looking at 20-year old Tirawa Gristwood. He comes from a rugby league background, played American football in Australia, and only started playing rugby union this season.

Photo: Thompson Rugby Park Facebook page

 According to his father Shane, “In Australia, not many indigenous players play rugby. This is the idea behind the tour. In comparison in rugby league, we have had a tournament now in its 48th year which allows indigenous communities across the state of NSW to enter teams. Sixty+ men’s teams entered last season. It gives anyone the opportunity to play, unless under a suspension so our highest level rugby league is the NRL and countless professional players play with local players for teams across the state. The winner hosts the next year’s tournament. I played after a 20-year absence from the sport to play with Tirawa when he was 17 and 5 other family members. Lose and go home win and go on! Winners take a prize of about 50k Koori Knockout it is called and it’s running this weekend” on is being streamed on the NITV Facebook page. The tournament is one of the largest gatherings of indigenous people, with over 50,000 there to view the tournament. 

The IART Tour is helping to grow rugby in the indigenous community. Rugby is meaningful for the Gristwood family. “Prior to Tirawa’s inclusion in the tour, we had never even watched a live game. Now we attend all his games and watch others too.”

IART Tour: Training Camp to Return

Prior to the tour, the team assembled in Townville, Queensland, Australia for training camp from September 12-14. Then they woke up at 3:30 am for a lengthy flight to New York City arriving on September 15th for a two-week rugby and cultural tour.

An article by the Western Advocate discussed the team tour.

Western Advocate: Peter Nugent (manager), Peter Fitzsimmons and Aaron Williams

The team would play an arduous schedule of six matches while being actively being involved in a cultural emersion, providing community service and enduring long hours of traveling from New York to Boston, Portland, Montreal, Oshawa, and Toronto before flying to Denver and then to Los Angeles and then returning home.

New York City is the 28th largest city in the world in population with 8,550,000 people and with a metropolitan population of 23724,000 as of 2018. After spending time adjusting from the flight and enjoying the sights, the team traveled to West Point for their first match at the U.S. Military Academy against Army West Point B.

The IART team issued a challenge to the Army prior to the match. After the match, comments were made by Army Head Coach Matt Sherman, by IART No. 8 Peter Fitzsimmons and Coach David John Conyers with some match highlights produced by Army West Point Athletics.

Following the match, the team traveled to Boston, spending the day sightseeing and visiting Harvard University. Later that afternoon they traveled to Portland, Maine for their second match against Portland RFC. Following the match, it was on to Montreal. There the team went to McGill University and attended the First People’s House 17th Annual Pow Wow. In the evening, they endured a rainy match against Rugby Quebec.

The team then traveled to Oshawa, Ontario for another Provincial match against the Ontario Blues Sr. Development Team. and then onto Niagara Falls.

The team then traveled to Niagara Falls before a cultural exchange with the Iroquois Roots Rugby Club.

Then it was on to Toronto to explore the city before flying to Denver to meet the U.S. Indigenous Representative side, the Indigenous Warriors. The score did not matter as it was a highlight of the tour having the chance to play against another indigenous rugby team. The Warriors only had 15 players and in the spirit of the game, IART players played for the Warriors as replacements.

The final tour stop was in Long Beach, California. Prior to the match, the team engaged with the students from ICEF – South Los Angeles in a game of Flag footy.

The team also spent time with students at View Park Prep.

Yesterday was the last of the six matches against Long Beach State and today the team will return 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 Squad vs. CSULB: 1 Kai Lowah 2 Bryce Adamson 3 Connor Lynch 4 Mitchell Hudson 5 Elliot Thompson (C) 6  Josef Wilson 7 Peter Fitzsimmons 8 Braeden Smith 9 Ethan Wikaira 10 David Green (VC) 11 Matt Saul 12 Anthony Fuller 13 Isaiah Huet 14 Josh Smith 15 Deon Evans-Ao 16 Jerone Wills 17 Liam Bilston 18 Aaron Brown 19 Daniel Rosendale 20 Leonard Snowball 21 Aaron Williams 22 Tirawa Gristwood 23 Aiden Wikaira 24 Ruben House 25 Shayman Shepherd

IART Tour Matches, Clinic, and Preview Article

IART Roster, Club, & Location
1. Kai Lowah (Vice Captain) JCU Mariners – Cairns
2. Jerone Wills (Leadership Group) Warringah Rats – Darwin
3. Aaron Brown – Devonport Bulls – Davenport
4. Liam Bilston- Easts Rugby – Darwin
5. Elliott Thompson (Vice Captain) GPS Brisbane – Barcaldine
6. Daniel Rosendale (Leadership Group)  JCU Mariners – Cairns
7. Braeden Smith (Captain) Queanbeyan Whites – Queanbeyan
8. Peter Fitzsimmons – Bathurst Bulldogs- Bathurst
9. Tirawa Gristwood – Bowral Blacks- Moss Vale
10. Aaron Williams – Orange City – Bathurst
11. Corbin Walters (Leadership Group) Ourimbah Rugby Club- Ourimbah
12. Anthony Fuller – Warren Pumas
13. Isaiah Huet – Emerald Rams – Emerald
14. Ethan Wikaira- Noosa Dolphins – Noosa
15. Deon Evans-Ao – Southern Districts – Sydney
16. Connor Lynch – Griffith Blacks – Griffith
17. Bryce Adamson – Hamilton Hawks – Newcastle
18. Mitchell Hudson – Cloncurry Question Marks – Cloncurry
19. Josef Wilson – Uni Norths – Leeton
20. Leonard Snowball- Innisfail Vikings- Babinda
21. Shayman Shepherd – Cloncurry Question Marks – Cloncurry
22. Matt Saul – Queanbeyan Whites – Dubbo
23. Aidan Wikaira – Brisbane Brothers – Noosa
24. David Green – Bond University – Gold Coast
25. Reuben House – Queanbeyan Whites -Canberra
26. Joshua Smith – Narara

Support Staff
Manager: Darrell Morris – Townsville
Head Coach: John Browne – Townsville
Forwards Coach: Bernard Green – Townsville
Backs Coach and Technical Adviser: David Conyers – Bathurst
Assistant Manager: Kelli Smith – Queanbeyan
Head Trainer / Player Welfare: Wade Smith – Queanbeyan
Trainer: Faith Donahue – Queanbeyan
Physiotherapist: James Pearce – Canberra
Player Mentor: Peter Nugent – Bathurst
Team Doctor: Dr. Ross Wilson – Bathurst
Team Patron: Sean Armistead – Melbourne

IART vs. Long Beach State Photos


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