Before I recap my Saturday …
Petrie blogged the Minnesota Valkyries & New York Women’s match on Coney Island (NY Won, but Valks rallied … Any more details, readers?) and Morris e-mail me that the Morris Women beat Doylestown 49-0 Saturday and six different backs scored.
If you have other scores, recaps, etc., to share, throw them in the comments please.
Saturday really starts on Friday. I finished work, walked out to my car and found to my relief, that despite parking there all day in a 2-hour parking area, I had not received a parking ticket. So that was a good start. I stopped at the grocery store because I had decided earlier in the day I wanted to make some really good food – stuffed pasta shells with ricotta and italian cheeses and good meaty sauce – to enjoy on a Friday and provide some energy for Saturday’s much-anticipated game with Detroit.
I ended up all alone Friday night to clean up my kitchen, wash dishes and make food. It was one of those nights where you actually enjoy the process of cleaning, washing, chopping and stirring … it’s therapeutic in a way. My sister and mother had gone out for fish fry (something I would not normally turn down), friends were calling, and I had the potential of a friend coming by for dinner after work. But I remained alone and finally sat down to eat with just my cat and my sister’s dog in the house at 8:30. And it was really good, if I do say so myself. I will be having some more in a minute when I eat lunch (actually, I couldn’t wait, eating it now … yum).
So I was asleep fairly early and up early at 7, despite the game not kicking off until 3 p.m. I don’t really enjoy sleeping in … I always feel like I’m wasting the day. I had so much time to putz Saturday morning while getting ready for my game and our social that I washed/dryed all of my clothes, watched Trainspotting (darkly hilarious) and made Taco Dip for the social. Then I went early to the field to watch our guys play Detroit at 1 p.m.
At the field, it turned out that the Detroit Men had only traveled with three men’s players, so our guys would be forced to play 10s with mostly our players wearing Detroit uniforms. Needless to say, we were concerned that the Detroit Women might also have some number issues. But they had exactly 15, so our game was still on and we had a while to warm up and set our lineups to work in all of our players.
At the beginning of the week, I thought I would be scrumhalfing the whole game. Then I was told Thursday, I would be a flanker and switching halves with my teammate Moni for scrumhalf. Then Saturday at 2 p.m., I was flanking the whole game. Then at 2:45, that was corrected to be a flanker and an outside center. So two minutes before kickoff, I knew I was starting and would be playing the whole game, but I figured I would be somewhere between No. 6 and No. 14. But as someone pointed out to me, it’s kind of a compliment that I can play all of those positions (and No. 4 & 5 too!) and that I am trusted enough to start by my coach and captains. So, yeah …
I started at weakside flanker and our scrum struggled a bit against Detroit. Within the first few minutes, I managed to torque my sore thumb (still sore from the Menagerie) tackled too high and seem completely cognitively disabled. However, no one else seemed to think this except me, so I just kept playing. And it got better. Detroit only tried to go weak twice and myself and Goose (playing No. 8) along with our weak wing (Jess) shut those down quickly. We also did okay helping support the other side and I had quite a few balls shooting out under my feet that I tapped back in under my second row’s feet to protect/win in our scrum. Our strong side was a different story though. We had some work to do in that first half.
To back up a little for context though, we traveled to Detroit last year (7-8 hour drive) and got our asses handed to us in a mud-soaked blizzard on six mile road (that’s 2 miles from Eminem’s hood!). A few of us refer to that trip as “The time we played in Hell”. We traveled badly, no one wanted to play and we might as well have not taken the field for all the good we did. It was just one of those games. And for the record, our referee was this insane Canadian guy who wouldn’t let our hooker call in the locks, he had to do it, and he pulled those scrums together and engaging just five seconds after calling for the scrum. I kid you not. It was in no way fun. It was Hell with snow.
So, for some of us, Saturday’s match had some more meaning behind it. We wanted to show who we were really were. And that we could really play.
We expected their forwards to be a major presence and they didn’t do as much as I thought. They did a good job of rucking and getting clean ball from us, but it was Detroit pushing out to create an overload that caused us some trouble. We were down four tries to two at the half and we were in the game, we were playing well, but we needed everyone to dig a little deeper.
Let me also just say, during our halftime break, that when one of our men’s players (already half intoxicated) walked into the middle of our huddle to help “coach” and repeated exactly what our captain Pinkie had just finished saying, I thoroughly enjoyed the look of “what the hell are you doing?” on all of our faces and then our coach Bill telling him to kindly shut up and go back to the sidelines. Also, for the record, my guy just handed out water and kept his mouth shut. He’s very smart and knows better than to piss off an entire women’s rugby team. 😉
So, in the second half, I was an outside center. Again, this is a new mentality for me out among the backs on this team. I’m not used to all the waiting, hurrying, then waiting again. Especially Saturday going from busy, busy, flanker to outside.
And I bit hard on a fake by an agile center for Detroit early on, so I wasn’t pleased at all. But then it just came together. We had a good strong line in the second half and Moni was figuring out her scrumhalfing better. She started sending the ball out to us and we were causing some damage – Tonya at fly, Erin at inside, me at outside and one of our alums, Sue (Scottie), at wing. Our forwards were also shutting down a lot of the Detroit attack up top and our team as a whole was just talking and working together to stifle the visiting team.
So, maybe 15 minutes into the second half, Sue and I were standing out on the wing, and the ball was never coming out to us. We could’ve stood there braiding each other’s hair, we had that much time. As we both stated more than once, we were bored. And I couldn’t think of anything else but being done and eating taco dip. But we spoke too soon … Goose and the forwards got a great try to start our rally and then we started getting a lot of ball and working it hard.
Erin and Tonya would move the ball out to me, I would take a few steps and hear Sue just off my hip as our two defenders were biting on me, flip her out the ball and she was gone with a backline of support (not that she needed it). We had climbed back up after a 33-17 deficit to be up by one point, 34-33 with 8 minutes left. And then the ball came out again, down the backline to me, I got caught up, passed to Sue, then Tonya again as we still moved up field, then Tonya got caught, saw me on the far wing and to my own surprise, I had the ball and was running as hard as I could up the sideline with three Detroit players angling behind me.
It is moments like this where you are just thinking “keep running, keep running”. And I could see the tryzone ahead of me and I could hear a Detroit player near me and I could hear all of our guys – half giddy with the sun, beer and dehydration from their own game – suddenly realizing I might have a breakaway try to both their surprise and my own. But at the last second, I either was tapped out or stepped out, and we had a lineout instead of a try. I was told later that I had the right angle, or one stiff arm and the try was mine, but that’s okay. It was fun for the moment and now I know I’ll need to work on my backline skills for the next time I’m suddenly racing up a sideline.
So our coach was pretty pleased that we had rallied back and held on for the win, and he was happy that he had seen I could play outside and tallied two assists off Sue’s tries and almost had one of my own. As one of our old girls said, I guess I won’t be second-rowing anymore.
The social was excellent, as was my taco dip, and the birthday cake we bought to celebrate our assistant coach Braeden’s 5th birthday (Coach’s little boy). My mom even stopped by for two beers, and after leaving her alone with Tim and Sean for a few seconds, came back to find that the boys had her dancing and dipping her.
I finally fell asleep at 3 a.m. after a stopover at the Shamrock, a local gay bar with a Ladies Night, that saw all of us, the entire Detroit entourage staying the night and a few of our boys that had yet to pass out, then later pizza at 2 a.m. I was sore, injury-free and definitely ready for some sleep until Sunday morning.
But it was an excellent cap to a season of growth and resurgence in our team. Plus, now it’s summer. Yeah!