It was Long Island’s turn to host the Olde Boy Palooza. But L.I. Ralph was not there!! My Mom always used to say that apple pie without cheese is like a hug without a squeeze. This was a very similar situation, but I am too lazy to think of a word that rhymes with Ralph, so I will soldier on.
Prior to the game, the Rugby Gods were clearly in cahoots to make this a special day. The ominous forecast was improving by the hours. The Club Capos were reporting back with many enthusiastic players. It was to be a very special day. Then the GWB authorities stepped in. Clearly graduates of the Chris Christie school of bridge repair, the lanes on I-80 and I-95 were replete with lane closures and traffic cones from as far West as Parsippany and as far South as Carteret. PING! PING! PING! Capos were besieged with IMs from players stuck in traffic and wimping out of the Palooza. Normally the traffic delay sign on the Denville hill on I-80 would say 35 minutes to the GWB. Yesterday, it only read “Stay away, you Idjit!!” I was riding with Andy, who clearly took this invocation to heart. We took a slight detour and only arrived 5 minutes late to the announce kickoff time. (for those of you following at home, this counts as early in rugby time.) Still, the detour was productive. Along the way, we passed Santa’s workshop and saw the elves working at a feverish pitch in preparation for the upcoming Holiday season.
All the warm bodies were assembled and 2 teams were loosely formed: Long Island and MAGA (Morris And Gents Again). The Masters that showed up to be counted included Andy, Big Papi, Chamberlain Wilt, Aussie Mick, Martin, Mitch, and your humble reporter. Martin was clearly handicapped, with a heavy bandage on his right hand. He claimed it was from a recent game, but the fact his crotch also had a similar bandage makes me suspicious. But no matter, he showed up and played valiantly. Players from across the globe were sprinkled between the 2 sides. Among the countries represented were England, France, South Africa, Australia, and Iowa. But strangely, there were no players from the Emerald Isle. I will leave it to you unsophisticated and culturally bigoted readers to hypothesize as to reasons for the absence.
A 10-vs-10 game would ensure. Long Island would receive and before we would have our first knock-on, it was a 4-on-1, with only Martin back. He gave it his all, tackling the would-be attackers before they even had the ball. Penalty be damned, he jumped up and had at the next one. He got 3, but was so exhausted by the endeavor that the ball carrier was able to jump over Martin’s outstretched arm and pirouette into the try zone.
From there, the game was all downhill. The field was in great shape. There was no goose poop like Bayonne, nor even any egregious, egret excrement from the nest atop the pole betwixt the field and Oyster Bay. Stuffed in between the knock-ons, the tries continued to rain down on the MAGAs. After 2 periods, Long Island was up 8 tries to nil. Several of the last tries were scored by a new player. He claimed he was over 35, but the grey-haired amongst us were skeptical. I mean, who shows up at a game in diapers and a nuddler? After a brief hops and barley break, it was agreed to play an abbreviated extra period. In an attempt to balance the teams, the MAGAs agreed to trade Gent Jay to Long Island in exchange for the child prodigy. The strategy worked somewhat, as we did score 2 tries. But Long Island also scored twice, with the last one being by the traitorous Jay. He scooted down the near sideline, bouncing the ball like a basketball from the 5M line in. The referee saw nothing, awarded the score and blew the game up.
We finished off by noshing on sammiches and enjoying the sun, the view, and the comraderie. After, Andy and I would stop for a cleansing ale at Houlithorns. No doubt feeling guilty about missing the game, we would meet up with an Irish contingent there. Cal, Alderman Mike and Lady Jameson soon also joined us. Cal and I would regale the soft suburbanites with tales of farming and frontier medicine. Next time you see him, be sure to ask Cal why Kerry butter and cheese is soooooo sweet.