Photo Credit: Lyn Goodin Jones
Originally published at: http://d1arugby.com/news/quinn-noel-memorial-rugby-match/
On a warm November afternoon, a local college and a club team came together for a friendly match at Alden Bridge Sports Park in The Woodlands, Texas. As Texas Tech and The Woodlands RFC players first arrived at the pitch, they came in knowing that this game held a much greater significance than any ordinary matchup between a college and club team. What followed was a day of competitive rugby and profound sportsmanship, with a local community coming together to honor one man’s passion and love for the game.
The first annual Quinn Noel Memorial Rugby Match between Texas Tech Men’s Rugby and The Woodlands Rugby Club took place on November 18th 2017, honoring the late Texas Tech player Quinn Noel. After the Texas Tech flanker and co-captain passed away in January of 2017, the local rugby community began planning a way to remember his legacy. Quinn had proposed the idea of a friendly between the two clubs in the past, so the idea of a memorial match between Texas Tech and Woodlands RFC grew organically after his passing.
On the field, though Quinn wasn’t the biggest of forwards, he made up for it in his tenacity and fearlessness on the pitch. In games, Quinn played with an unrivaled intensity that motivated his teammates to find that extra effort. As co-captain, Quinn led by example at Texas Tech on and off the field, always working to come up with new ideas to improve the club and help other players find success. His far-reaching impact on both Texas Tech Rugby and Woodlands RFC led to an outpouring of support after his passing that culminated at the memorial match. Quinn also played rugby for Woodlands RFC in high school, winning a U19 championship in 2012. Many current Texas Tech players got their start at Woodlands so the two organizations were eager to build off this connection and move forward with the memorial match to honor Quinn.
With players on both sides eager to attend and contribute to the experience, and fans from around the community coming out in droves to support the event, the day was destined to be something special. Before the game, Texas Tech left out their usual tradition of a pregame jersey presentation in favor of a meeting on the pitch between both teams and Quinn’s family. Players and coaches said a few words to remind everyone who they were there to honor, and all shared a moment of silence before kickoff.
The game itself was an exciting, back-and-forth affair with high level rugby in all phases. With both teams emboldened by the atmosphere surrounding the game, the clubs matched each other with early scores. After taking a late lead, it was Woodlands RFC’s goal line defense that made the difference, securing a 34-31 Woodlands victory.
“It was one of the hardest hitting games I’ve seen. Both sides were trying to emulate the type of play that Quinn demonstrated in his career,” Texas Tech Rugby President Robert Flinn said. “Quinn’s style of play and passion for rugby is still inspiring all of us today, and that was clearly shown during his memorial match.”
After the match, Quinn’s family treated both teams to a meal at a local restaurant where the two clubs continued to bond over the experience. Players shared stories while remembering the player and friend who had such a positive impact on their community.
“That day was the best way we could have honored him,” Texas Tech Vice President Kaleb Teverbaugh said.
As a newly established tradition, the match will continue to bring out the best in the young players on both sides, reminding them that rugby is more than just a game, with the power to bring people together and teach life lessons. From the turnout of the match to the intense style of play, the two teams have formed a bond that will grow year after year.
“I think you saw his legacy in the number and volume of people who had an interest, and in the manner with which it was contested. People are there because it means something to them,” Texas Tech head coach Phil Terrigno said. “It was very competitive and fierce which are two qualities that Quinn displayed at all times.”
Along with the yearly match, a trust has been established to start a scholarship in Quinn’s name between The Woodlands High School, Quinn’s family, and the greater Woodlands Rugby Club. The Quinn Noel Memorial Trust will provide scholarship opportunities to Woodlands High School Rugby players looking to attend Texas Tech. This scholarship will help young rugby players from the Woodlands area receive an education all while honoring Quinn’s legacy and ensuring a bright future for the Texas rugby community.