Monthly Archives: December 2005

A Community Discovers Rugby

This is one of the fun articles where a town is starting a new rugby team and the newspaper gets to explain what this crazy new sport is to the townspeople. This time, Bartlesville, Oklahoma will be unveiling the new Bruins High School Boys’ Rugby Club.

Came up in my google search because it briefly mentions women’s rugby, but had some fun quotes and explanations I get a kick out of … Good Luck to the Bartlesville Bruins.

When you ask the guys in the brand-new Bartlesville Bruins rugby club why they decided to sign up and play, they don’t exactly beat around the bush.

“I wanted to hit somebody,” says Brad Gray, 16.

“They said it was rough and it was real fun to play,” says 15-year-old Austin Taylor on his first day at practice.

On the sidelines of the practice field, Madison eighth-grader Dylan Grayson sat watching the guys.

“It just looks like a fun sport,” he says. Though he’s not yet old enough to come out with the Bruins, he says he has played rugby before-on video games.

In a culture where the biggest, toughest, roughest guys put on hard helmets and thick protection to play football, the idea of a similar game which calls for little to no padding holds a certain amount of fascination for many would-be bonecrushers. But according to Coach Haus Miller, who has put together the Bartlesville high school rugby club, this British-born ancestor of American football really isn’t very much more dangerous.

“As far as being violent-you’re gonna get bruises,” says Miller, who spends his time off the field as a pastor at First United Methodist Church. “I think they assume that it’s harder because it is a contact sport and there’s no pads. But the fact is, football helmets and shoulder pads become weapons. You take those weapons away and you’d go back to the bruises and the bloody noses, and you’d have less broken legs and separated soldiers and knees. [Rugby is] rough, but it’s not deadly.”

But the player who comes out expecting to hit people isn’t likely to be disappointed.

“In football, one person might make two or three tackles in a game,” says Miller. “Everybody on the rugby team’s gonna make anywhere from ten to twelve tackles in a game, [and] touch and carry the ball ten or twelve times.”

Coach Miller hopes to get enough boys for his new team and maybe even a girls’ team in the future.

“I think it’d be pretty cool to see ‘em come out,” he says. “For one thing, it’ll give ‘em something to do in college.” Women’s rugby is now a growing club sport on American college campuses.

Bartlesville is located in northeastern Oklahoma near the state line with Kansas.

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Almost 2006 …

I found this picture on CNN this morning. The fireworks celebration on the Sydney Harbour Bridge in Australia. You can see the Opera House with its origamiesque white sails in the corner. I love to see photos of this bridge and the Sydney Harbor, so it was fitting that this photo helps me bring in the new year blogging.

Six years ago today, I was getting ready to celebrate New Year’s Eve with college friends before packing up for a few months of studying and living in Sydney and the South Pacific – Fiji, Australia and New Zealand.

Many an adventure began with a trip across Harbor Bridge or a pint at a old Irish pub called the Mercantile, settled into the bluff underneath the Bridges’ foundation in an area of Sydney called The Rocks. It’s funny how the dawning of a new calendar year makes you reflect and wonder what adventures lay ahead of you in the coming 365 days …

Now this morning, I am up early using Sparky’s computer to type out my mind’s meanderings. I met three of my teammates last night at our team bar, very laid back, just catching up on stories, sarcasm and a few pints.

One wondered where her Christmas cards from two of us were … I informed her she would receive a card on July 27th just because. And I would glitter bomb her (fill it with little confetti so it opens and spills confetti all over your house) for her sarcasm. I’ll have to write that down, I just picked a random date.

Sparky’s apartment looks out over a field of prairie grass, pretty until you realize it’s just clinging on as our city expands and a new business or apartment complex will soon be there.

At the top of the grass field, up a hill, is our city’s newest Mega-Gym and through a vast wall of windows you can see guys playing basketball as the expansive parking lots fills with early morning workouts.

In the middle of all of this … bustling city, dwindling green space, oblivious people … a large redtail hawk flew up and enjoyed a morning perch on a lightpost outside the window. Taking a break from scanning for breakfast in the field. I was so excited, I made Sparky wake up and look at the hawk. “Oh cool … a hawk. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.” Back to sleep for Sparky. Oh well, I’ll enjoy this brilliant moment of nature myself this morning.

No partying for me tonight. New Year’s Eve always promises too much without fulfilling its promises for best party of the year. I’ll work the hockey games tonight and lay back. Easing into 2006 …

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USRFF Update

Just a quick note on the fundraising efforts of the US Rugby Football Foundation. According to Executive Director Briar Vizard, there are 10 days left of the 2005 campaign and they are still $15,000 short of the overall goal of $25,000.

However, the rugby community’s recent effort to raise funds has brought in money and awareness of the foundation. Learn more at the USRFF Web site.
Additionally, Vizard’s e-mail includes a link for the 2005 Rugby High School Injury RIO Report (PDF). Definitely worth reading for any ruggers who coach, referee or work with high school and youth rugby. The Foundation has awarded a grant to continue the RIO Report for 2006 to keep collecting valuable injury information which will help to improve safety in the game.

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Bombers to Start Women’s Team in St. Louis

The St. Louis Bombers, a men’s Super League club (new in league for 2006) with Division I, II and Old Boy’s Sides, is adding a women’s side in the coming year. I found this bit of news at Tackle Girls’.

According to the Bomber President Dan Ward:

“It seemed like a natural time for us to do this. Adding a women’s side in conjunction with our entering the Super League brings a lot of positives to the table. We are looking to expand our club base and grow as an organization.”

And I’m guessing they want the women’s side to be a Division I team …

The Bombers look for the women’s team to grow into a nationally competitive side. Vice President John Wolf said, “We want to play a limited schedule this spring and then build from there. We already have women with international and territorial experience on board as players. We look for this team to develop into a nationally respected women’s side.” Players committed include US Eagle Liz Reed, Mari Therrien and Michelle Stephen.

More womens teams, especially connected to well-established programs, are always a good thing. However, I am curious if the Bombers are working together with the St. Louis Sabres women’s team or if they are starting a new separate club.

The Sabres, by the way, have a nice clean Web site and I was excited to see that they are using Flickr (a photo site now owned by Yahoo) to share team photos. It’s something I’m working on for my own team’s site, so I was happy to see that it looks nice and works well. Sweet … tangent finished now.

St. Louis is the 19th largest metropolitan area in the U.S. with roughly 2 million people in the city and surrounding areas (don’t you just love the web?), so clearly the city can handle some more rugby teams.

Besides the Bombers, I found three other men’s teams – the Royals, Ramblers and Hornets – and this doesn’t include any collegiate, high school or youth programs. Let’s just keep our fingers crossed that both the new Bomber women and the Sabres will both be successful programs in St. Louis.

I’m definitely excited that we’re getting a new women’s team within driving distance of Wisconsin. I might just drop the Bombers’ a line to see about a spring match.

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Cold, Wet & Unpleasant Rugby

A preview piece from Goff on the Eagle Women’s upcoming United Kingdom tour. The Americans will play Scotland, Ireland and England’s A Side. Subscription required, so full piece below.

Harsh Scotland Awaits Eagle Women
By Alex Goff
December 29, 2005 – The New Year will begin with the USA women’s team touring the United Kingdom and facing Scotland, Ireland, and England “A”.

The Eagles will face the Scots first, a team that they have played three times in the past seven years. All of those games have been difficult physical encounters for the Americans. They won 25-10 in 1998 in a World Cup match. Three years later the Eagles visited Scotland in November and came away chastened 22-3 (they also beat Wales, just, and Wales “A” on that tour, the end of the Martin Gallagher honeymoon).

But late in 2004 the USA was back for another helping, and this time put in a sterling effort to win 12-6. It is this battle-hardened, focused side that returns to the United Kingdom just 14 months later.

Then four days later it’s across the Giant’s Causeway and South to Limerick in Ireland. The Irish women’s team has come along very well in the past few years, and continues to be very unpleasant to play against. Playing every year in the European Championships against the likes of France and England will do that. The USA has never played Ireland.

And then England “A” on January 29. Players and coaches have voiced some disappointment in not getting the full England test side. But it’s understandable that England gets lots of tests, unlike the USA, and they therefore wish to save their regulars and simultaneously test their depth.

What they will be looking for is a rough outing on all fronts. Head coach Kathy Flores wants it to be cold, wet, and unpleasant. She expects the weather to be cold and wet and the teams to be physical and desperate to beat the Americans.

“We’re really looking forward to it,” said New York and USA center Keenya Warner. “We don’t expect it to be easy, and we know, without having had a full test match for over a year, that it’s something we need. With there being no nationals in the spring, this tour and the World Cup after that is what we’re focused on.”

Other players feel the same way.

“Always in the backs of our minds is the tour and what we will need to do,” said Harlequin Olde Girls loose forward Suzanna Barth.

“It’s going to be hard, there’s no question,” added Austin Valkyries prop forward Meredith Ottens. “We perhaps would have liked to have a shot at England’s first side, but it’s still a very tough game. And you look at the World Cup pools and you know there are no easy games there.”

Gone, really, are the days where several teams could expect three-figure blowouts. And indeed gone also are the days where the World Cup semifinal four are a foregone conclusion. Not now. The Eagles know that along with New Zealand, France, and England (in that order), there are several other teams vying for a semifinal place, such as Canada, Scotland and Australia, as well as the USA.

The USA will face England, Ireland, and the Aussies in the first three rounds of the World Cup in Edmonton this August.

“We want to get back up there,” said Barth.

The squad itself appears to be pretty much the World Cup squad, although there are a few players who will be looking at this tour as a trial to get there (Mari Wallace).

Some players certainly saw their stock rise at the recent National All Star Championships. Among them was Kristin Zandancewicz, who was a one-woman demolition crew for the Midwest, and Kate Cox, who pulled the South along by the scruff of their necks at times while Laura McDonald contributed to Flores’ problems in trying to pick only three players for the back row.

Hedwig Aerts was brilliant at center for the Northeast back from injury, while several other players who are expected to perform at a high level, Pat Neder, Phaidra Knight, Ashley English, Patty Jervey, Jen Crouse, Barth, Ottens, did so.

Full touring squad:
Team: Hedwig Aerts, Kirsten Aerts, Kristin Baja, Suzanna Barth, Claudia Braymer, Jamie Burke, Laura Cabrera, Erin Carter, Annie Collier, Kate Cox, Jen Crouse, Ashley English, Heather Hale, Tyshawn Henry, Patty Jervy, Jen Joyce, Ellie Karvoski, Lee Knight, Phaidra Knight, Pam Kosanke, Annie McClain, Laura McDonald, Kelly McMahon, Pat Neder, Meredith Ottens, Jen Sinkler, Chris Trucano, Mari Wallace, Keenya Warner, Kristin Zandancewicz

Reserves: Stacey Bennett, Brenna Costello, Heather Jennings, Kim Magrini, Katie MacCallum, Sara Merritt, Danielle Miller, Kate Pope, Christy Ringgenberg, Liz Snodgrass, Eve Tryals, Kate Turpin, Heidi Whitman.

Staff: Kathy Flores, Head Coach; Candi Orsini, Assistant Coach; Anne Barry, General Manager; Sara Shouse, WNT Manager; Katie Peterson, USA A Manager; Katie Wurst, USA Rugby.

A nice shoutout for former Wisconsin player Ham (Kristen Z.) as a “one woman demolition crew” at NASCs. Picture of Jen Crouse from Goff.

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Up & Runnin’ On The New Laptop

It’s taken a few days, but I finally found some time tonight to sit down and play with my new laptop. It’s got a great widescreen, is fast and only took me a few seconds to hop on the Web with our home’s wireless. Can’t do much else since I need to load up all my various softwares, but still … it’s pretty fun.

The only thing causing problems so far is that I’m not used to the keyboard spacing, so I’ve hit a few of the wrong buttons, but that will pass soon I’m sure. And it’s too bad Dell can’t make laptops in different colors than black or silver. Big fan of colors.

My first ever computer that is all mine. Sighhhh …

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Rants & Raves on a Thursday Morning

Rave: To Alex Goff for remembering that women’s rugby was played, and played well, in the United States in 2005 during his monthly lookbacks. It may not have been the headlines, but thanks for including it. I still think all your articles should be free, but I understand that you need to pay the bills too …

Rant: To the guys at American Rugby News, whose 2005 recaps (which are pretty meager already) fail to remember that a large chunk of the rugby population in the U.S. doesn’t play the game with a Y chromasome.

Seriously, I have less than 10 steady readers, have been doing this for only three months and yet, I can still find new information to post regularly on women’s rugby.

But somehow, there was apparently so little news that happened in the women’s game that you guys can’t even make a single mention of it in your recaps?

Your site name is false advertising … you are not writing about all American Rugby. Posting a women’s story on a monthly basis, while posting men’s stories on a more than daily basis does not constitute good coverage of rugby in America. Plain and simple.

Be journalists. Research and Dig. One story a week would be an improvement.

These rants & raves, of course, make me wonder why these rugby news sites aren’t doing more promotion of their “product” to generate more interest, inquiry, information, etc. I’ve been playing rugby for over ten years and only through surfing the net have found US rugby news sites. I would guess that the vast majority of adult rugby players (i.e. your targeted demographic & consumers) don’t even know you exist. Not good business since these sites earn revenue through subscription and/or advertising.

Hmmmm ….

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