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Weekend Match Report Oct 27 by Grant Cole

West Houston Lions - Doubly Victorious on Saturday!

West Houston Rugby Club put 18 players on the pitch in Katy, TX, 21 players on the pitch in Austin, TX, and NINE Mufasa on the Houston Olde Boys Rugby - HOBOs at the Masters Tourney. 49 players spread across three different teams competing in three different comps in one day!

Considering that last season West Houston played 42 individual club members in 16 cup matches, the weekend was a resounding success for the club!

I want to give a BIG shoutout to Ariel Perez who made the roadtrip to Austin and back with us just so he could film the match for WHL. When y'all see Ariel at practice, please be sure to thank him for the camera work.

The Games

Speaking of success, Mufasa traveled to Austin early in the morning to play rugby with the HOBOs at the Masters Tournament.While the HOBOs only when 1-2 on the day, this is still considered a success for West Houston, because without Mufasa there would not have been a HOBOs team at all. Additionally, one Mufasa started in the D1 match and two stood kitted up and ready as potential injury subs. Mufasa leads from the front!

The D1 Men's Friendly match between West Houston Lions and the Austin Huns kicked off at 2:25pm on Huns Field #1. Flyhalf Enrique Montano notched the first points of the match at the 3 minute mark after the Huns conceded a Penalty on their own 22M line directly in front of the posts. Four minutes later, Flanker Alex Elkins scooped up a botched pass by the hosts and rumbled forward enough to fall in-goal on the left side. 

The next ten minutes saw the Huns with momentum as their flyhalf missed one penalty kick, then notched one a minute later. After the restart, the Huns marched into Lions territory, put the ball in the hands of their explosive fullback Gio Bonilla, then Bonilla cut an inside angle to speed through a gap in the Lions' line and score the Huns first try. The Huns were ahead 10-8. That would be their only lead of the day. 

Two minutes later, Lions Center Irving Carcamo took a first receiver pass at 25 meters out and dropped the hammer to break through FIVE Huns defenders for a power try! Montano would convert. Just before halftime was called by Referee Scott Green, Montano called for a set-piece play. His quick ball delivery put Wing Darell Williams thru the gap in the 12-13 channel, Williams then delivered to Center Matoko Noudehou who caught the pass at a full gallop. Noudehou strode from midway to the 22 meter line before offloading to Fullback JC Emanelli at full pace. Emanelli sped away to score between the posts for an easy Montano conversion. The Lions were up 22-10 with halftime looming. 

But there were a couple of minutes left in the half and the Huns caught the Lions napping after the restart. The Welborn Twin Towers (the Huns locks) connected for a try right at HT. The try was converted and the Lions came to the sheds ahead 22-17. 

Elkins opened the second half scoring with a try soon after the second half started. Montano converted. Then a 20 minute long back and forth began between the two teams. That ended with Montano notching a PK to bring the score to 32-17 with 17 minutes left in the match.

The Huns found some momentum as they put Center Pita Naruma over the line from a 5m penalty. They converted that try, then continued to keep the Lions on the backfoot until the 79th minute when the Huns winger stepped back inside to sprint untouched for their final try and conversion. The Lions were still on top 32-31, but just barely. 

From the restart, the Lions put the pressure on. Then Hooker Gabe Romero (who earned Man of the Match honors) broke the gainline inside the Huns 22 and headed for the posts. He was tackled short of in-goal, but used the softest hands to offload to Prop Codi Jones in support and at pace with nothing to stop him from scoring the try. Montano converted and Fulltime was called with the Lions the victors 39-31! 

The TRU D4 Men's match between West Houston Lions and Galveston Rugby kicked off at 3pm at Katy City Park. The Lions opened the scoring with Front Row Robert Ware - recently returned from injury - rumbling in for five points. Fullback Geoffrey Calvert dotted down 14 minutes later, then Galveston had a blood sub as Flyhalf Neil "Beckham" Best slotted the conversion. Just before the half, Galveston suffered another Blood Sub only to answer it with a try by a front row players. The conversion was good which had the teams going to the sheds with West Houston up 12-7. 

The second half was ALL West Houston Lions as Center David Heffernan notched a hattrick, Center Dom Dobbins nabbed a brace, and Wing Gilberto Yssacis & Best got a try each. Lions sponsor extraordinaire, Matt McManus even notched a try. AND Coach Dan O'Donnell brought his kit to the match to sub in for Calvert with 14 minutes left. All that scoring resulted in another Lions victory of 68-7! 

This win puts the West Houston D4 squad firmly in control of the D4 Men's South competition. It also sees Neil Best on top of the points chart for this division with a try and nine conversions. David Heffernan now has the most tries scored in this division. D4 Comp Stats can be viewed here

The 8th Annual Lone Survivor Rugby Tournament

The 8th Annual Lone Survivor Rugby Tournament is this Saturday, 3 November 2018, at Walter Hall Park in League City, TX. First Game is at 9am and the tournament ends around 9pm.

West Houston Lions Name Paul Emerick Their First Men’s D1 Head Coach

USA Rugby Legend Leads Its Future

Houston, TX, September 20, 2018– The West Houston Rugby Club is pleased to announce that Paul Emerick, Eagle No. 325 and former member of the London Wasps RFC of the English Premiership, has agreed to become the Head Coach of the West Houston Lions for their inaugural season of D1 Men’s rugby. With 53 Eagles XVs caps, three Rugby World Cup appearances, and a Barbarians F.C. selection, Paul brings a wealth of perspective and experience that is sure to lend itself to the Lion’s pursuit of greatness. Additionally, Coach Emerick will work with Major League Rugby’s Houston SaberCats as their Skills Coach, as this hiring is a joint venture between the Lions and the SaberCats.

"The concept of West Houston fielding a D1 team a few years ahead of its strategic plan to do so is about developing players, coaches, referees, and administrators who prepare to operate in the professional game. Paul is essential to that concept in developing players and himself. He is a coach we will be seeing at the professional and test match levels in years to come."

                                                      -Grant Cole, D1 Men’s Team Manager

The excitement spurred as a result of this announcement spans well beyond the walls of the WHL organization.

When asked how he felt about the decision to bring on Paul, Coach Justin Fitzpatrick of the Houston SaberCats noted, “(Paul’s) had a storied playing career in a number of different environments, which is going to enable him to draw from different experiences...I think he’s going to be a great addition to the Lions’ program.”

With the atmosphere of American Rugby quickly heating up, Emerick realizes the need to create an environment that will benefit players at highest levels. “I want to continue to build a culture of professionalism, and help young men reach their aspirations, whether that be professional, international, or enjoyment of the game.”

The West Houston Lions are excited to have Paul aboard. He joins an already impressive Senior Men’s coaching staff featuring Neil Riley (DoR), Kenneth Hepburn, Neil Doherty, Dan O’Donnell, Hennie Volschenk, & Garry Owen. Paul's reputation in sport and connections to rugby all around the world will help with recruiting young players and coaches to the Houston-area. Paul is currently enrolled in USA Rugby’s Project SOAR and serves as a backs and attack coach for the Men’s Collegiate All-Americans. West Houston looks forward to a successful first season.

West Houston Rugby Club is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) registered organization in Texas. West Houston Rugby Club accepts players of all genders from the age of 3 to 18 and senior players post High School. Youth teams are grouped according to age, with girls competing at the same level as boys until age 13. The club has three competitive Senior Mens teams in Divisions 1, 2, and 4 in the Red River and Texas conferences and is actively forming a Senior Womens team. For more information on the West Houston Rugby Club please visit or contact

# # #

If you would like more information about this topic, please contact Brooke Rubens at 713-906-3697 or email at

“Pride Rising”: Irving Carcamo from Carolina to Europe to Houston

Within the inner circles of the West Houston Lions Rugby organization, the air is electric with excitement, and there’s good reason to be. Not only because a new dawn of American Rugby has broken thanks to the emergence and success of Major League Rugby’s inaugural season, but because the Lions may have within their grasp a fresh ‘face of the franchise’, as they say in football, to kick off the life of their team. His name: Irving Carcamo.

Now, I know the Houston sports faithful have been teased with this very same idea before in the form of David Carr, a former number one overall pick of the NFL’s Houston Texans. Carr, in his rookie season, was expected to lead a brand new franchise with a fledgling offensive line to the glory that was never quite achieved by Warren Moon’s Oilers (can you tell I might be a rugby AND a football nerd?). Needless to say, he fell short of that expectation.

However, the pressure that seemed to drag down Carr probably won’t be as heavy on young Irving as he begins his career here in the Bayou City area of Houston. For starters, as an amateur D1-club, his play with the Lions won’t be affecting any chances the SaberCats may have at the America’s Championship Shield next year, no matter how well, or poorly, he may play. As long as you don’t potentially cost a city its shot at the title, you can remain in their good graces.

Second, Carr’s draft stock skyrocketed his final year in college because he was able to pick apart subpar defenses at Fresno State, coupled with an impressive combine showing. Carcamo, meanwhile, is heading to Eastern Europe with the USA Rugby South Panthers, a Regional Select-Side of D2/D3 players from the southern regions of the United States, where he will take on the National teams of the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Austria. Sounds a bit more competitive than San Diego State’s secondary, am I right?

If all goes well, the Lions, and eventually the SaberCats, will have themselves a bonafide star on the field with the versatility to dominate both offensively and defensively. In the meantime, having had some experience talking with and interviewing rugby players (shout out Diego, Peter Tibs, Vince, Ryan, and Hanco) I caught up with him while he was travelling across the pond to get the goods on where his head’s at now, and more importantly, where it came from. Read on:

Liam: What was the first instance of exposure to rugby that you had in your life?

Irving: Sophomore year in high school was the first time I went to rugby practice. My gym teacher started a team and that’s when I met my first Samoan! We ended up being good friends and I just stuck with it. Fell in love and haven’t turned back.

Liam: How important is family in your life?

Irving: Family plays a huge role in my life. The biggest being my four nephews, ranging from a year and a half to twelve years old. Hoping to mold them into future rugby players one day!

Liam: What’s the most difficult part of life you need to balance along with being a rugby player?

Irving: One of the biggest are occasions is when my friends or family misunderstand how heavily committed I am to this sport. Being gone every other weekend and having to miss birthdays or some kind of event going on back home. They always ask me why I choose to do this, especially since I don’t get paid to!! My only response is “For the love of the game!!”

Liam: What kind of lessons did you learn playing in Charlotte that have helped you grow as a player and person?

Irving: Playing for Charlotte definitely helped in both aspects. Bringing in Coach Brenden Keane last year was a big step for the club, and I definitely have been learning a lot from him. As a person, some people that have known me for a while say I’ve changed quite a bit! Thankfully, for my teammates and coaches, I’ve grown into a better and more mature person.

Liam: When we spoke earlier, you mentioned you were in route on traveling to Europe (for the Panthers upcoming tour against Czech Republic, Hungary, and Austria) with former Charlotte and now current Panther teammate Amro Guda (NOLA Gold). What does it mean to have a connection like that with a fellow hometown guy where you already have a degree of chemistry?

Irving: One of my favorite things about playing on this team is making life long memories while traveling around the world with teammates. And what better person to do it with than one of my best friends! We have a very strong connection, and help each other stay honest and push each other to be the best players we can be. People confuse us all the time, and call me by his name and him by mine. So being able to share this experience with him is pretty awesome.

Liam: What do you think is going to be the most educational aspect of a European tour?

Irving: Being in rugby mode 100% of the time while out here. Modeling that professional environment where I just get to focus on rugby and rugby only. Also being able to compare my skills and talent with the rugby out there will help me better understand myself as a player.

Liam: What are you most excited about in regards to working with Coach Rene Daniel as you tour Europe?

Irving: I have enjoyed working with Coach Rene on previous tours, but I’m really looking forward to experiencing an extended tour with him. Coach and the rest of the staff are real organized, and from the information I have gathered from my teammate Amro, the program is run similarly to the MLR. We’ve definitely learned a lot about each other since I’ve been with the program for quite some time now. So just looking to enjoy the experience out here with him and the rest of the South squad.

Liam: What initially attracted you to the West Houston Lions?

Irving: I was raised an hour north of Houston in a small town, so picking Houston kind of came easy to me. As far as picking the team, one of their players I knew, Irving Cruz (who happens to have the same name as me haha), had messaged me about the team and helped answer any questions I had and made me feel like I’d fit in great. They’re moving to D1 this season, so I’d be playing in a higher division than in Charlotte, and hopefully that will help me move onto the next step of making an MLR team.

Liam: What kind of positive effect do you think you’ll have on the pitch with the Lions?

Irving: Hoping to bring some aggressive ball running. I’m a hard runner and can make smart decisions. So I’m just looking to break the gain line and put the boys on for some tries.

Liam: If you could do one thing to improve the lives of the people in the Houston-community, what would it be?

Irving: I know Houston has a strong community, especially after Hurricane Harvey. But if I could improve something, it would be to help the Hispanic-community. I always have love for my people, and with the whole splitting of families and people getting deported, they need all the help and support we can give them.

Liam: What’s your favorite food to eat after a training session?

Irving: Harris Teeter subs!

Editor’s note: Harris Teeter is to the Carolinas what H.E.B. is to Texas.

Liam: Would you rather be a Jedi or a Wizard?

Irving: So between being in Star Wars or in Hogwarts... I think I’d have to choose my man Harry Potter! I’d much rather be on land than on a ship getting shot down lol. So it would have to be a Wizard for me!


Liam “Poach” Madigan-Fried is a recent graduate of Lyndon University in Northern Vermont where he played fullback for the rugby club and was the managing editor of His love of writing about rugby and the MLR have led him to make Houston his home very soon. The West Houston Lions and Houston SaberCats families consider themselves very fortunate to have such a journalistic talent in their midst.


Houston, Texas, June 20th, 2018 – West Houston Rugby Club (WHRC) are pleased to announce successful promotion to Men’s Division 1 Red River Rugby Conference’s (RRRC) competition for the coming 2018/2019 season.

Agreement came last week after a proposal for expansion into Division 1 had been unanimously approved by the board of RRRC. In addition, the Club will continue to compete in RRRC’s Divisions 2 and 4 as played in previous season 2017/2018.

Senior Club President, Hunter Nezat, said: “A rugby city like Houston is in need of Division 1 competition, and the West Houston Lions are excited to take on that role. This is another step towards a more clearly defined player development pathway for our club and city.”

In 2017, West Houston Rugby Club added Youth and High School programs growing club membership by more than 140, more than 40% of whom were newcomers to the game.

Youth & HS President, Nigel Saunders said: “To establish a solid growth plan for rugby is vital for Houston and the surrounding areas and this promotion is a major strategic goal for us as a club. In taking this step we aim to identify and develop the next generation of local players looking to advance into professional rugby creating a solid platform for progression in Houston”.

For more information contact:

Brooke Rubens, WHRC Secretary

Phone: 713-906-3697


Lions PLayers to attend High School All American camp

The West Houston Rugby Club is very excited to announce that 2 of our High School players - Bruer Gilkey and Lachlan Rubens, have been selected to attend the USA Rugby High School All American rugby camp in Arizona on Dec 27th!

The boys will spend 5 days training hard and learning from the squad of 32 skilled coaches, trainers and support staff, including USA Eagles players.

Congratulations and good luck to Bruer and Lachlan!


Alexander Ankrah becomes 100th player to register with Houstons fastest growing rugby club

Authored by Patrick Friend

Houston, Texas, November 12th 2017 West Houston Rugby Club, who play as the West Houston Lions, passed a significant milestone this week with the signing of its 100th registered player.

Alexander Ankrah, who plays for the West Houston Lions Mens Team, was recognized at a special presentation on Sunday during the Youth and High School regular practice session where he was presented with a special club shirt by Nigel Saunders, Youth and High School President.

Alexander started playing rugby seriously at age 20 with Moray House RFC in Scotland and has continued his passion by joining the West Houston Lions Mens Team.

While at the practice, Alexander had a chance to meet Ethan Rubens who plays for the West Houston Lions Under 11s team, and who was the first player to register this year.

Alexander did not know that the Club was offering a prize for the 100th player to register. He said: I was really surprised when I learnt that I was the 100th player to join the Club! I love rugby and I'm really pleased to be playing with the Lions. Rugby has always been my escape zone, my passion. I wanted to come to the Youth and High School practice session to get my prize so I could see some of the younger players in action players, like Ethan, who one day might join the Mens team.

Nigel Saunders, Youth and High School President and former UK Premiership player said: We are really pleased to have passed this significant milestone of 100 registered players. The club has been growing at an astonishing rate and we have attracted a large number of players from West Houston who are new to the sport of rugby.

Interest in Rugby as a sport in the US is growing day by day and with the arrival of the Houston Sabercats as our local team playing in the National League, we believe that this interest will continue to build - with more and more Youth, High School and Senior level players wanting to learn and enjoy the sport.

West Houston Rugby Club accepts registrations from youth players (M/F) from the age of 3 to 18, and Senior players post High School. Youth teams are grouped according to age, with girls competing at the same level as boys until 13. As well as a Senior Mens team, the club is actively planning to form a Senior Womens team.

West Houston Rugby Club is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) registered organization in Texas.

For more information on West Houston Rugby Club please visit or contact

Sakura newspaper article and English translation

Houston’s fastest growing Rugby club attracts players from Houston’s large Japanese community

Authored by Masanori Katsuno and Patrick Friend

With Japan due to host the Rugby World cup for the first time ever in 2019, there is an ever-increasing amount of interest in the game, not only within Japan but also among the many thousands of Japanese that live outside Japan.

Japan’s spectacular victory over South Africa in the 2015 Rugby World Cup has already increased awareness in Japan, and interest in Rugby is expected to increase further as the build up to the 2019 World Cup begins. Already a popular sport in Japan, the number of registered players in Japan (125,000)1 matches that of some of the top Rugby nations in the world.

Rugby is a popular sport among the 35002-strong Japanese community in Houston, and you may be surprised to learn that Houston has its own Japanese Mens Rugby team, the Lone Stars, founded in 2012.

The expat Japanese community is largely comprised of highly skilled employees who spend between five and seven years living in the Houston area before returning to Japan. During this time many of them look for clubs where their children can enjoy the sport of Rugby, learning the skills that will turn them into great Rugby players, perhaps even going on to join Japan’s national team, The Cherry Blossoms.

While it has been possible to play Rugby at senior level in the Houston area for a number of years, the opportunity to play junior level rugby has been limited to a number of small clubs. With the arrival on the scene of the West Houston Rugby Club, Japanese kids can now learn Rugby from as young as 4 years old.

Masanori Katsuno has been playing rugby since he was 13. When he came to Houston, he decided to join the Houston Lone Star Mens team. Finding a place for his child to play was difficult as the only clubs in Masanori’s area practiced at times that were difficult for Masanori to fit into his busy schedule.

The West Houston Rugby Club offers Masanori’s son, Taiga, the ability to train on Sundays – ideal for Masanori as Saturdays are spent at the Japanese Language School.

Masanori said, “The training schedules offered by The West Houston Rugby Club are ideal for us and many other Japanese families in the West Houston area. Rugby is the best sport for kids to learn a spirit of respect and discipline while they are young. I would like as many kids as possible to learn the great sport of rugby through our club”.

Masanori has now started coaching one of the West Houston Rugby Club’s youth teams and is an accredited USA Rugby coach. Masanori hopes that other kids from the Japanese community in Houston will join him and his son.

About the West Houston Rugby Club

The West Houston Rugby Club, playing as the West Houston Lions, was founded in 2006, and caters for players from all age groups, both boys and girls, from Pre-K to G12 through to an adult Men’s team. The club has a strong safety focus, and all its coaches are accredited by USA Rugby.

For more information about how to join Houston’s fastest growing Rugby club, please contact

About the Author

Masanori Katsuno is from Fukuoka prefecture in Japan and has been in Houston with his family for 2 years. Masanori has been playing rugby from the age of 13. He played all through Junior High School, High School and during his 4 years at Seikei University.

Masanori played for the LION FANGS, Japan's Top East League, from 2005 to 2011. Masanori then moved to Malaysia and continued his rugby career, commuting to Singapore across the bridge every weekend to play for the Singapore Japanese rugby football club from 2011 to 2014. Since arriving in Houston in 2015 Masanori has been playing with the Houston Lone Stars. Masanori has previously coached teams at Seinan Gakuin High School and the Singapore Japanese rugby football club.

1 Wikipedia

2 2010 Census Harris County

Article in Japanese in the Sakura newspaper

You can find the article on page 6-7.

Nigel Saunders takes on JV Head Coach role for West Houston Rugby Club

We are excited to announce that Nigel Saunders will be taking on the role of Head Coach of our Junior Varsity team, in addition to his role of Youth & High School President!

Nigel Saunders, has been involved in both local Youth rugby and Katy Lions Men's player development since relocating to Houston in 2011.

Nigel comes with a strong rugby playing legacy. He played premiership level rugby in England for all of his playing career. Nigel captained at County level and represented The South West England squad.

Nigel played internationally for 5 years in Asia and the Southern hemispheres and coached successful Men’s and Youth teams whilst located in Scotland, Thailand and Singapore.

Since arriving in Houston, Nigel has been working with the Katy Lions coaching staff to develop and strengthen the squad.

Involved in Youth rugby for the past 2 years, Nigel has taken the role of President for the West Houston Rugby Club Youth & High School division and now JV Head Coach. Nigel is married to Nok and they have 2 children, Amy, and their son Ben, who is showing great promise as fly half and team kicker for the Grade 7/8 team.

Nigel will be supported by Joseph Monk and William Winkler as assistant coaches. We thank Nigel for taking on this role!

Two of our Middle School Lions attend Leinster Rugby School of Excellence

Two of our Middle School players, Callum Dooley-Cullinane (L) and Donnacha O'Malley (R), will be spending next week at the Leinster Rugby School of Excellence in Dublin Ireland. They will be working with the Leinster Rugby Academy coaches developing their skills and improving their rugby ability. Good luck Callum and Donnacha!

Lions Senior player Jack Riley selected to join the Houston Strikers

Congratulations to our Senior player Jack Riley who has been signed by the Houston Strikers. Congratulations and good luck to you Jack!