Monthly Archives: September 2007

Kilts

My friend Annie sent me this ad. We share a love of men who wear kilts. 🙂

I guess Scotland might have left their kilts at home when they played New Zealand last week though.

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"Rugby is the solution, people!

A lot of the Ruggers with blogs aren’t blogging. I don’t know where they are (Hellooooo?). But you know who is blogging? Katy. And she’s awesome. One of my favorite Ruggers who Blog!

A few other tidbits I found today worth sharing …

• Have you ever wondered if you could tackle a big, hairy sumo wrestler?

• Jason – who’s old blog somehow died – is back with TryGol. So therefore, he’s back on the sidebar because he’s a nice guy and gives me link love already. And love is what makes the world go round peoplethat and because it’s just a big swirling mass with no forces acting to stop it.

• Also adding Dave’s Football Blog to the sidebar.

This guy’s kind of a downer. But raises some thought-provoking points. Just don’t let him talk to me at the next social. I like to pretend that all of America will love rugby very soon.

• And via an e-mail one of the college players here in Madison sent out to motivate her team for their big game tomorrow, a great YouTube video of game highlights of women’s rugby. I believe of England, but we can pretend it’s any team we like. Like mine.

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Friday

This week at practice we’ve been working on our level of physical play and defending off breakdowns, since our next two games will be tough.

The kind of tough where secretly to myself I remember all the games I played in college, etc., and man, did I have it good back then on the pitch. I had no idea what the hell I was doing, but god wouldn’t it be great to travel back in time and rip up the pitch again (because obviously if I’m traveling back in time, I have my rugby skills now).

Seriously, like Quantum Leap but just for rugby games.

Our team is having a positive, yet frustrating season. Positive because our numbers – which looked in trouble last spring as we clawed our way up to 15 each game, then lost a whole truckload come summer – are at least enough for each game. And our new players are cool, fun to play with and scrappy as hell on the field. So it’s positive, we’re rebuilding and we’ll do a lot more in the offseason.

It’s frustrating though, because our league is so god damn tough. It’s frustrating to explain to our new players how we’re taking positive steps forward, but we might still lose all of our fall games. And even though other teams in the Midwest are struggling too right now for numbers, the four years I’ve been on our team as it struggles starts to wear a little on your mind and motivation.

We struggle in D-1 now. We didn’t always. We used to be quite a powerhouse team.

We would barely fit in D-2 right now, especially around here. I say that not because I think the D-2 teams here are weaker teams per se, just that we all play at different levels.

As a D-1 team, we practice and train at that level (or try to). You can’t play D-1 and, even struggling for numbers, not play up to that level because that is who your opponents are. Some of my teammates come play for us simply because we are D-1. They would suffer competition-wise on a D-2 team. More competitive and talented players help raise the competitive and talent levels of their whole team.

I can only think of one D-2 team in our half of the Midwest (within 6-7 hours travel time that is) that would give us regularly competitive games. If we were willing to travel 8-10 hours, that might open up to three or four teams.

It’s quite a debate.

I just remind everyone that this is probably the toughest rugby they have ever played, that they are taking leaps and bounds over what they might have played at in college or before joining our team (if they played before). That come spring, when we travel to a tournament or play friendlies, we’ll be notching big wins and working on recruiting to build up for next fall.

I hope we can do it. I don’t know how many more hard fall seasons our club can take.

And we get so frustrated with our friends on our men’s team. They are D-2. There are a bazillion men’s teams across the Midwest (okay, maybe like 100 plus, but still a lot). And our men’s team is really good. Going to likely win their conference this year and enter playoffs for a top spot in their league (multiple conferences in one league). Their league is full of men’s teams just like their team.

They don’t get why we struggle though. How we can be a decent team, yet lose our league games? My only explanation is to ask them how they would fare if they had to constantly play a league schedule of the Midwest’s top D-1 teams.

This opens up a whole discussion of dividing up the women’s leagues into more equitable leagues (some D-2s could likely be D-3s), which is instantly useless because there are just not enough women’s teams to do it. We wouldn’t have enough games to play.

So, yes, two more big games left this fall. And we’ll play our best … and we’ll just work harder to be the D-1 team we want to be.

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Help Support Rugby in New York

Via my pals from the New York Women, if you live around NYC check this out:

This Thurs at 10/11pm (originally scheduled air time of 10pm will likely be delayed to 11pm due to Mets Postgame), the “Street Games” Episode featuring the New York Rugby Club will premier on SportsNetNY (SNY). Please pass the word on to everyone you can, as strong ratings for this episode may help convince SNY to cover more local rugby events!

SNY is channel 625 on DirecTV, 26 on Time Warner, 60 on iO/Optimum/Cablevision, 438 on Dish, and 67 on Verizon TV

A link with all details is here: http://www.newyorkrugby.com/content/view/509/1/

Good stuff!

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NCAA President’s Thoughts on Emerging Sports

Via the Double-A Zone Blog, a NCAA blog …

Last Saturday, Eastern Illinois and West Chester played the first-ever NCAA women’s rugby game. Many colleges and universities sponsor the sport at the club level, but only four give it varsity status.

If 40 programs sponsor an emerging sport at the varsity level, those teams can compete for an NCAA championship. On today’s edition of Mondays With Myles, NCAA President Myles Brand discusses the importance of emerging sports for women’s athletics.

And here’s the interview

Worth pointing out, Myles knows there are “a number of highly-proficient women’s rugby clubs” at universities across the country.

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Rugby Bits & Bites … We’re Proud of our Eagles

A special collection of rugby goodness about our USA Eagles who rallied hard yesterday to nearly beat Samoa, 25-21, after a 22-3 Somoan lead at halftime.

• A media recap … and the USA Rugby recap.

• Can rugby in the U.S. go pro and become a Tier One team? USA Coach Peter Thorburn is interviewed here and here about what needs to happen in our country.

USA coach Peter Thorburn hopes the IRB Rugby World Cup will help catapult the sport into the mainstream.

“It has always been the sleeping giant,” he said. “I believe that it will reach its potential in the next four or five years, and in eight will be part of the tier one (the best 10 teams in the world).”

Thorburn believes there is a place for rugby alongside the top sports of basketball, American football, ice hockey and baseball.

“They (the American public) love physicality in their sports, lots of action, and rugby is also a multi-skill game. I know that if they see it for the first time, they will like it.”

• Kevin Roberts discusses the next RWC in New Zealand and also agrees to keep the 20-team format for smaller teams to grow … also check out his post on America’s need for “Whakapapa” to fall in love with rugby.

Added: Congratulations to Mark Griffin on being named the 2007 Hershey’s STRIVE National Administrator of the Year by the National Council of Youth Sports. Griffin is a USA Rugby Game Development staff member and also the founder of Play Rugby USA, which “encourages kids across the country to boost their fitness and learn the skills of rugby while developing a set of core values including teamwork and leadership.”

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Filed under 2007 Men's Rugby World Cup, Rugby: Bits and Bites, USA Eagles, USA Rugby

Rugby Bits & Bites

So much good stuff to share … RWC and what not, but first the fluff!

• Did you know that billionaire Mark Cuban is a former rugby player? Neither did I. This former No. 8 at Indiana University owns the Dallas Mavericks and barely made the cut last night on the newest season of Dancing with the Stars.

• Clint Eastwood may direct a new movie about Nelson Mandela and the 1995 Rugby World Cup. Morgan Freeman may play Mandela and Matt Damon may play South African captain Francois Piennar.

It will focus on events surrounding the Rugby World Cup in South Africa 12 years ago and how Mandela used the tournament — won by the host nation — to bring whites and blacks together.

Mandela appeared in a South Africa jersey to present the trophy to captain Piennar after the final at Ellis Park in Johannesburg, which has become an iconic moment in the history of the country and sport.

I’d like to see this movie, not only for the rugby, but because of showing how sports bring people together.

And after recently watching Damon play Jason Bourne, I think a rugby player won’t be a stretch.

• Elsewhere in Africa, the Zimbabwe women’s national team will play its first-ever home international match against Zambia.

• I stumbled upon this blog this morning, a student at the University of Florida is following student-athletes for the semester and recently interviewed the women’s rugby team with a podcast.

• A new link – this guy is the “self-appointed guru of all things rugby union” at What is Rugby? Now added to my sidebar.

Added: Just got a nice e-mail from Vic at What is Rugby?. He’s just moved to Wisconsin!

And on to RWC news …

• Bad balls?! New Zealand flyhalf Dan Carter has asked the IRB to investigate the balls being used at the RWC, says the balls used in practice are different from the game balls.

• And the All Blacks don’t care what jersey color they wear (gray, black or white), despite all the hubbub.

“We’re not too concerned about it. We want to put on the track what we are all about. At the end of the day we’re black all over, inside and out.

“The players are far more focused on doing what’s right and performing the best they can.”

Are 20 teams too many for the RWC? Supporters of the larger format say no and that the so-called “Minnows” are helping expand the game globally and nipping at the heels of the big teams.

• Speaking of Second Teir teams, Portugal and Japan head home with “heads held high”.

• England flyhalf Jonny Wilkinsin applauds the southern hemisphere teams

“The display so far from the Southern Hemisphere teams has been massively impressive and no more so than the likes of Samoa and Tonga,” he said. “They have the ability to completely light up the field and crowds are so much enjoying that style of rugby.

“There’s a lot to be learned from that. The professionalism and the kind of ruthless attitude being shown at the moment by the likes of South Africa, Australia and New Zealand is great. They, at the moment, are leading the rugby world and showing us the way forward. It’s up to everyone else now to follow that path.”

And then says “It’s a good wakeup call for guys like us who maybe feel we’re not where we need to be right now. But we’re working towards it.”

Were the ticket prices for the RWC too high? Wales thinks so. The IRB says no way.

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