Morris County was the center of the US Rugby universe in early June. Leading up to the US/Ireland match on 06/10, Team USA trained at Drew University (the preeminent small liberal arts university in NJ). Then on Saturday, Denville was host to a miniature tournament featuring a NJ Select Side, NY Upstate Selects, and NY Downstate Selects. But of COURSE, the featured match of all these was the Masters hosting the Olde Breed in a friendly exhibition.
More people travelled farther for this match than those who purportedly attended the Presidential Inauguration. Based out of North Carolina, the Olde Breed would travel from Virginia, Maryland, California and parts unknown. Morris would attract old friends Wayne and Heather, who broke the Cheddar Curtain to fly in from Wisconsin. Our new friend Jim broke the Etouffee Edging to come from New Orleans. And, of course, there were about 13 William Ryans from the Syracuse area, all brothers and all from the George Foreman school of familial naming.
The Olde Breed are comprised of former Marines who play rugby. We also learned quickly that they play a physical brand of rugby. Marines being physical? Who knew?
The Denville pitch is quickly developing the moniker “Pocono Cauldron of Fear” (thanks Kris O.) Opponents used to tread lightly when entering our pitch. But as the Marines have been in far worse places, they were not intimidated. They would jump out to an early 12-0 lead before the Masters could recover and mount a counterattack. The fact that this counterattack started after I was substituted out of the game was, I am sure, just a mere coincidence.
Deep in our zone, Troy Bartley would find a hole in the Marine line and sprint down the sideline to the OB 22. A series of quick passes would set up Seamus in the corner to start the comeback. All throughout the day, Troy was breaking off long runs. Whereas most players graduate from the Backline to the Scrum as they mature and hone their skills, Troy went in reverse. Starting as a Prop, he was now enjoying the freedom of the backfield to use the skills perfected during countless hours of touch rugby.
As the 2nd period began, the Masters would continue to keep the ball in hand for long periods of play. Our superior numbers began to wear down Olde Breed, until finally Jeff Greeeeee-sack would score under the posts. The second stanza would end with Morris down only 12-10 and very much in the game.
Early in the 3rd, Troy would continue to run like an elk in Springtime and after another long run, get a try of his own. We now had a slender lead of 15-12. Slender in size of spread and in time we actually held it. Olde Breed would quickly score 2 of their own to seize the lead back. A late score by one of the William Ryan’s and a Mitch conversion would round out to scoring. Final score: Olde Breed 26, Morris 22.
After the game, but before the rehydration session, we lined up on the 22 and were given the honor of a live performance of the Marine Hymn. The lads were in fine vocal form and we were privileged to hear it. Gentlemen, thank you for your service.
There were multiple awards for our final game of the season (I mean it this time). Man Of the Match goes to Troy, proving there is a rugby life after the Morris Men. Man Not of the Match is a tie, with equal votes going to Big Al for coordinating all the activities on the day and keeping our (ample) bellies full. Co-winner is Adam B(not beer) for not only buying the rehydration fluids, but for having the forethought to think of this award and nominate himself for it.
Our Spring Season is done, but we have 6 more months before Christmas, I think it only fitting that we close out with the late Spring classic: The 12 days of Covfefe. To keep things moving along, we’ll skip to the climactic final verse.
The 12 Days of Covfefe
. . . on the 12th day of Covfefe, my Papi gave to me
12 cases of Yuengling
11 shots of Jameson
10 pounds of Jambalaya
9 million at the Inauguration
8 beefcakes scrumming
7 rabbits sprinting
6 packs a-beering
5 points a-trying
4 teams paloozing
3 Trumps colluding
2 points for converting
And a per-fect day for Rugby!!