Bob Ray scored on a kickoff in overtime as NOVA (Northern Virginia Rugby Club) beat the French team F.L.V. Villefranche, 16-13, in yesterday's opening round of the 20th annual Cherry Blossom Festival Rugby Tournament at fields near the Lincoln Memorial.
NOVA, which beat Chatham of Canada, 31-0, earlier in the day, will play a semifinal against Akron today.
Washington Rugby Club will play Old White of Atlanta in the other semifinal. Washington beat Morris of New Jersey, 32-0, and the New York Athletic Club, 23-3.
In the women's final, Washington will play Charlotte, N.C., at 1:30. The men's semifinals will start at 9:30 a.m., with the final at 3.
Twenty-four teams (16 men and eight women) competed from France, Canada and the United States.
Tied at 13 with two minutes remaining, NOVA had an opportunity to win but Ray's penalty kick from 20 yards out went wide.
The teams then alternated kicks, starting at the 25-yard line and moving back five yards after each successful kick.
"I was pretty nervous because I missed three straight kicks and we lost this exact way back in December in the Citrus Bowl in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. ," Ray said.
After Ray and F.L.V.'s Bernard Etcheberry converted from 25 and 30 yards, the ball was set back to the 35. Ray's shot went cleanly through. Etcheberry pulled his to the left.
"I just threw out my iron and grabbed my driver," said Ray.
NOVA rallied from a 10-6 deficit early in the second half. After Ray made a 25-yarder that closed NOVA to 10-9, Etcheberry missed penalty kicks from 25 and 35 yards before converting from 30 to increase F.L.V.'s lead to 13-9.
Charlie Wilkinson tied it when, running right, he took a short pass from Steve Norair and fell on it over the try line. The conversion failed.
"They use a lot of boots and fists," said Ray, toweling off his face afterward. "We try to quit the conflicts and just play rugby."
NOVA's women weren't as successful. Loose forward Becky Allen's seven-yard try broke a scoreless deadlock early in the second half and that was all Washington needed.