The-Summer-that-never-was-and-now-will-not-leave continued. Under a glorious sun-filled sky with Autumn temperatures soaring into the mid-70’s, the Rockaway River flood plain at Pocono Fields, Denville would serve as the site for the latest Rugby Palooza.
For the first time in aeons, the Masters would actually take to the pitch in our own jerseys. For a long time, we were considering putting out a missing persons report to determine their whereabouts, possibly even posting a picture of our jersey on Yuengling bottles. But luckily, not only were they in good hands, they were with Don Slade. As a result, our jerseys were returned smelling like Skin-so-Soft.
To digress momentarily for a bit of Rugby Hakuna Matata, I have one friend whose father traveled the globe opening up Avon production facilities. Many years later, I have another friend whose job is to span the globe shutting down those same production facilities. Fortunately for us, Don has acquired a lifetime supply of Skin-so-soft, ensuring that our hands will be supple and free of insects and that we will have the best smelling jerseys on the pitch. Our play at often times stinks, but it will not be because of the jerseys.
On most match days, especially home matches, scads of Morris alumni would show up. Forwards will greatly outweigh the backs, in numbers and in poundage. Saturday, not so much. We had 15 players and thus could field a team, but forwards were thin. For a while, I thought that not only would I have to move up in the Fat Five from 2nd row to Front Row, but that I would also need to play both prop positions at the same time. As this would be patently unfair to the other team, the Motleys loaned us another Front Row to even out the competition.
Morris would receive the opening kickoff and drive to the Motley 5 before losing the ball in a ruck. Motley would drive back to the Morris 5 before suffering a similar fate. We drove back over the half line before Motley would intercept and go in for a long try. Stunned, we gave up another quick try before the whistle blew and would allow us to regroup.
In the break, Aussie Mick was livid. We were playing like “cats” (Aussie for pussy). He implored us Seppo’s (consult Urban Dictionary) to work together, keep the ball in tight and move the ball upfield. Basically, the Southern Hemisphere player was telling us to play Northern Hemisphere ball.
The warm-up period over, Morris would kick off to start the real game. In a time-honored rugby tradition, the restart (kick) is directed to the other team’s fat men. In a bit of dastardly chicanery, Paul McDevitt would do a short kick to the other side of the pitch. This short kick caught the Motley napping. Paul would pounce on the kick and gallop deftly to the 5. After several phases, Dave Kettner would circle in off the back side of the ruck for the first Morris score of the day. This woke up the Motleys and they would respond with several tries of their own. Morris would score again. We ended the stanza being outscored 19-12, but were definitely back in the game.
In the final period, Morris would step up its game against the beleaguered Motleys. Andy “Swivel Hips” Steinberg would display moves that he had not used since dancing the Lindy back in the day. Martin, unlike last game where he spent most of the time on his back looking up at the clouds from being run over whilst bringing down young giants twice his size and half his age, was rejuvenated. Kris O. tried to resurrect his 10 try match of several years back and sprinted down the side line for a score. Paul McDevitt would score 2 and Neil Davies told me he scored one of his own. (of course, this was after the match when Neil was caught licking his balls to make sure they were hard). It wasn’t all Morris in the period, however. Seamus, not wanting to Kris to be the only Irishman to score, did the next best thing. He conveniently passed a ball at midfield . . . into the waiting arms of the on-rushing Motley wing who went in for the score.
Madam Sir blew the whistle indicating full time. If you believe the fake news from the Lame Stream Media, the final score was Motley 38, Morris 27. However, as rugby is played in halves, the REAL outcome is that after we lost the warmup session, we lost the second stanza and won the 3rd. So by my count, that counts as 1 win and 1 loss in this latest Mini-Tournament.
After the match, all the players would join unite with a shot of Jameson to honor the life and untimely passing of Cal O’Herlihy’s father. In tribute to the Irishmen, all the players would continue the blarney while rehydrating and noshing on jambalaya by Big Al at Pitchside.
Thus end-eth another perfect day of rugby. A road trip to the CT Greys beckons us in 2 weeks to do this again.