I just cleaned out a massive amount of my news alerts. Here are all the recent yummy bits and bites … consider this the 500-pound prop of yummy bits and bites!
International Interestingness & Senior Strength
• Scottish captain Donna Kennedy earned her 100th international cap Sunday. The game, a loss to France, also marks her retirement.
A salute to Scottish rugby’s only centurion, Donna Kennedy
KEVIN FERRIE, Chief Rugby Writer March 21 2007
A truly remarkable era in Scottish rugby may have ended on Sunday with the retirement of Donna Kennedy on the day she won her 100th cap.
I say may’ because friends, colleagues and team-mates to whom confirmation of her intentions was offered in the pub that evening have heard this before. After last year’s World Cup, her body battered by the intensity of that tournament, she also declared that she was calling it quits.
Then her resolve lasted weeks before she realised she could still perform better than most and, in any event, the prospect of becoming the first Scottish player of either gender to reach the century mark was within reach.
It was disappointing that the occasion was marked by a defeat, with Scotland unable to defend a 10-point half-time lead against a talented French side, on turning into the wind. Yet, with the French match announcer revelling in her achievement, she took her leave – if that proves to be the case – with head held high.
Not that any result would have detracted from the way a player who has been among the team’s chief pranksters is viewed. Something of a force of nature who could initially be intimidating to newcomers to the national squad, she is very much in the Jim Telfer mould, preferring to train as she intends to play and is reckoned to have had at least as many fights with team-mates as opponents.
Even so, she inspires respect, bordering on awe, in those who have been around her.
Which in turn makes this confession time . . . because I have had to catch up on much of this since the weekend. To my personal embarrassment, I have seen very little of the career of a player who has been in the national side since a Scottish women’s international team was introduced in 1993, hardly missing a game in the interim.
In those early days, the sport received a boost in this country when, after the Dutch withdrew late as tournament hosts, Scotland staged the 1994 World Cup tournament. That was probably the last time I saw Kennedy play.
At the time, playing standards were moderate. My memory of the 1994 World Cup final was that the American team sought to be lively and stylish, but were beaten by an England pack which, in relative terms, were even more brutish than Martin Johnson & co.
The mind can play tricks in these matters, but there is a vivid recollection of a pushover try from halfway, admittedly achieved in stages but no less appalling a spectacle for that.
Kennedy is very much in the Jim Telfer mould… and is reckoned to have had at least as many fights with team-mates as opponents.
Handling skills and techniques were substantially lesser than the lower reaches of the men’s game at the time, but those who saw last season’s Women’s World Cup final know that, in terms of ability and commitment, the sport has moved on.
• Shamrocks’ Thomen Finds Calling on the Pitch – Feature article on Savannah Shamrocks captain Katie Thomen.
Katie Thomen lights up like a child when she starts talking about rugby. When asked where she gets her fearlessness from, she hesitates a moment before the excitement slowly starts to build in her voice, which leads to a long explanation for why the sport has such a warm place in her heart.
Thomen was active in sports all through college at the U.S. Military Academy – West Point. The 24-year-old second lieutenant played Division I softball, but she found the sport too predictable. She boxed at the intramural level, but even that wasn’t enough. But when she set foot on the rugby pitch, she had found what she was looking for.
“You have to be creative. You have to think on your feet. You have to run. You have to be athletic. You have to be strong. You’ve got to tackle and hit people like when you’re a little kid playing football,” Thomen said almost as fast as she blazes the pitch as a member of the Savannah Shamrocks women’s rugby team. “It’s almost like a high. You get a high from playing.”
I also just found the new site for the Savannah Women (which I’ll add to the sidebar) and here are scores from the St. Pat’s Tournament held last weekend. This is a great tournament! My team has won it twice in 2003 & 2005!
1. U. of Central Florida
2. Minnesota All-Stars
4. Florida State University
2. University of Florida
• Women Find Rugby Not Just for Men – A new women’s team has started on the East Coast, the North Jersey Rugby Football Club, and both girls’ and women’s teams are starting to pop up everywhere. Here’s the link for North Jersey Rugby.
• NZ Women Top Seeds for Hong Kong Sevens – No real surprise there, they’ve won it the past nine years. The tournament starts a week from tomorrow and more info (and an advertisement with a picture of USA’s Teena Mastrangelo (Chicago North Shore)) is here.
• Rugby Canada Launches National Women’s League – Canada … where the beer is colder, hats are called tooks, french fries are covered in cheese and gravy, and women’s rugby gets more support. Oh and they say “aboot” instead of “about”. Gotta love it. 🙂
• Russell Sacks Cheer Squad – Russell Crowe has fired the cheerleaders of his rugby league team in Australia “after receiving complaints that the women’s skimpy outfits left fans of both sexes feeling uncomfortable …” including a complaint from his wife.
“The focus on game day should be a positive experience for the crowd. We feel they made a lot of people uncomfortable,” he said. “It makes women uncomfortable and it makes blokes who take their son to the football uncomfortable.”
Perhaps the dancers at the USA 7s are next? Despite their supposedly unique Americanism.
Which makes me wonder, whatever happened to just basic cheerleaders? Why the sexy dance teams all over now? When did cheering for a team turn into also cheering for their libidos? Something to ponder …
All Around the College Pitch
• Michelle Birks, 22: Star Athlete – A young rugby player in Canada dies in her sleep from heart arrhythmia. Very sad.
• Cadets Get Ready to Rugby – The Norwich University women’s rugby team is preparing for a run to the D-II national championship.
The veteran leadership is now facing the possibility of being called national champions.
“These girls want it,” women’s rugby coach Austin Hall said. “We’ve been talking about this season for three years. We’ve had the vision, it’s been there, and now it’s here.”
“I think it’s lame that guys get football and wrestling, while girls get volleyball and cheerleading,” said Lauren Bowers, rugby player and sophomore in Engineering.
• Women’s Rugby to Play in National Championship Game Next Month – Did you know there was Division IV for college? Me neither. Formerly D-II, the team was suspended a few years ago for a “bus incident” and is rebuilding. Lessons learned hopefully.
Three years after a one-year suspension from its league, the University of Rhode Island women’s rugby team is headed to the Division IV National Championship. The team will travel to Philadelphia on April 28 to face Ursinus College after winning the New England Rugby Football Union Championship in November.
The Rams dominated the previously undefeated Springfield College in its regional championship, 41-17, to cap off an undefeated season of their own.
“We went into the championship game and the team we were playing was undefeated. We won 41-17,” junior Maura O’Keefe said. “It wasn’t even a game. Once we got the confidence to go with our skill, we were unstoppable.”
The team will carry its confidence to the National Championship.
• Lost Teeth Don’t Stop Women’s Rugby Players – Good, and humorous (Mouth guards won’t affect your streak! Save your teeth!), feature piece on the University of Arizona women’s team.
• Rugby Club First to Pair With National Foundation – Good on the Syracuse Women. Their team is partnering with the Susan G. Komen Foundation. A portion of all of their fundraising will go towards fighting breast cancer.
An ad for the party posted at the Rugby House at the university got the Suffolk Police Department’s attention. The ad boasted of three bars, eight kegs and “more liquor than you can handle.”
• Virginia Commonwealth University’s new homecoming queen? Rugby player! Congrats Monica Motley!
U-19s & High School
• Greyhounds Trying to Restore the Luster – The Carmel women’s rugby club (high school players) is rebuilding under a new coach in Indianapolis.
Ashley Klein jumped at the opportunity to help turn around Carmel Dads’ Club’s girls rugby team.
A player for Carmel in 1999, the first-year coach couldn’t just stand by and watch as her former team struggled to win games and keep a positive attitude the past two seasons.
“Playing rugby in high school was one of the best things I’ve ever done, and I have so many great memories,” Klein said. “I want these girls to leave here and have the same feelings about the sport.”