Celebrating 10 years of September exhilaration, the Cardinals took off for where the air is fresh, crisp, and thinner, Aspen, Colorado, for the 45th installment of America’s most prestigious rugby tournament, the Aspen Ruggerfest. With over 100 players, 200 arms, and just under 2000 fingers, the Cardinals had teams in all four brackets; 35+, 45+, 50+ and 55+, of this year’s national championships of master’s rugby.
The tournament kicked-off on Thursday, awash in sunshine, with the 45+ and 55+ brackets. Celebrating a ten-year reunion of our 45+ Sons of Beaches Championship Team, the 55s came out strong, and in SOB jerseys, with a 19-5 win over the Florida Old Boys, before losing a close 19-15 match to Colorado. When Colorado then went on to beat Florida 38-12, the 55s again reached the Final, where they were looking to defend championships in each of the last two years. Mike Puopolo. Adriaan Verheul, Richard Morris, and a bionic Mike Wright, each had tries in pool play. The single-minded 45’s came out fully stoked, and blew through their bracket, beating a stellar Misfits team 26-10, followed by a massive 41-19 win over Boulder.
On Friday, the 35+ and 50+ brackets kicked in, and the Cardinals managed more scintillating wins in Pool play. The 50’s dominated in both of their matches, beating Boulder, and then Colorado, by wide margins. The 35’s, who had Eric Miller, former British Lion and Ireland International, at number 8, had impressive wins over the defending champion Misfit’s, and Old Southwest. Unfortunately, the Misfit’s were up again in the Semi-final, and exacted their revenge, knocking our most highly competitive team out of Sunday’s finals.
That night, all 4 of our squads, and our hoi-polloi of ever-enthusiastic friends and family, congregated at Eric’s bar for another tournament winning party. John Carr was his usual Bon-v-vaunt and raconteur self, hosting many a cauliflower ear, and flattering their damsels. The swankiest crowd in Aspen always resides at Eric’s with the Cardinals.
On Sunday, like chain lightening, new years of hopes were again fulfilled, as first the 55’s, then the 50’s, and then the 45’s each won their final, and their championships. Additionally, the Cardinals added players on both sides of the mid-stripe, in an exhibition 60+ match.
Clearly, we were again rewarded, with the euphoric state of exhilaration, which always results when our club brings together top players from all corners of the United States. Congratulations to all that made a contribution to another successful tournament…we all remain hopelessly infected with our beloved game of rugby.
*2012 Aspen Ruggerfest 55+ Champions - the Sons of Beaches*
2011 Can-Am Rugby Tournament – Saranac Lake, NY
The Cardinals again entered Social and 50+ sides in the 2011 Can-Am Tournament. The tournament kicked off on Friday for the 50+ side with a 12-0 victory over the Mystic River Hombres. Prop Matt “Tatonka” Szkotak relived his days with Philly-Whitemarsh by rumbling over for a try, and Scrum Half Jeff Bush began a solid tournament by dotting down a try of his own. Jon Knight capped the scoring with a long conversion.
In the second match the Cardinals topped the Wild Oats 17-0 with solid connections between the forwards and backfield. Jeff Bush had a second try and Jon Knight had two nice conversions. Keith and Tom Trumps teamed up in the backfield again and Dan Roach rolled at number eight. The Cardinals welcomed Mark Lambourne and Adriaan Verheul to the squad for the first time.
On Saturday, the Social side, which the previous two years had won the consolation round to finish 5th in their 32 team bracket, came out firing in their first match against a solid Black River team. Minutes into the game Schuyler Whelan had to leave the game with a head wound. His replacement, Rex Decker immediately scored a try which fired up the entire squad. Fly half Tyler Maccubbin, who managed the game from the beginning with long positional kicking, also scored 2 tries and had 3 conversions. The Cardinals won going away 31-5
The Social side again dominated in the second match with a 19-0 win over Keene State. Tyler Maccubbin had another try and a patched-up Schuyler Whelan also scored.
In the third match against the Ottawa Indians the Cardinals again went up quickly with scores from Tyler Maccubbin and Brian Rainey. Schuyler Whelan had the score of the match when he juked multiple defenders and then ran over 50 meters down the sideline, within 1 meter of space, for a spectacular score. The three converted tries gave the Cardinals a 21-0 lead. Just before end of the half, Ottawa scored a very soft try to close the gap to 21- 7. Unfortunately for the Cardinals this gave the Ottawa life and the linkage between Ottawa’s loose forwards and their backfield produced overloads in the center of the field, and they pounded in some easily converted tries, scoring 34 unanswered points. The final score was 41-21 Ottawa, knocking the Cardinals out and leaving the team wondering what happened in a match that they seemed to have well in hand.
The 50s were back in the Finals on Sunday; this time versus the Fathers & Sons (aka the Myths & Legends, who also had a Social side eliminated on Saturday). The match was extremely tight throughout. The Fathers & Sons scored an early try and seemed to have the upper hand. However after penalty kick by the Fathers & Sona, two long penalty kicks by Mark Lambourne put the Cardinals within two points at the half, 6-8. In the second half, the Cardinals controlled the play and had the Fathers & Sons defending for their life. Twice the Cardinals opted for tap penalties near the goal lne but 2 apparent tries were not awarded based on calls by the assistant referee. Despite these setbacks, the Cardinals maintained pressure for most of the second half, but it wasn’t enough, as the close score held up for Fathers & Sons.
The tournament again proved a tough yet memorable and worthwhile experience. The social highlight, as in almost every Can-Am, was the great team dinner hosted in Lake Placid by Terry & Eileen Whelan and gang. Everyone is already looking forward to next year.
Rich, Terry and Tom combine for a stop versus Fathers & Sons
Tom Trumps in action in 50s
Tyler Maccubbin headed for a try
Cardinals U19 Team Competes in Pittsburgh
The first ever Cardinals U19 team traveled to Pittsburgh, PA on June 17-19 to play in a Regional All Star Tournament (RAST). The tournament party consisted of 29 players from 10 Virginia-based teams, 4 coaches (Bill Brownley. Lex Maccubbin, Mike Puopolo, and Terry Whelan) and 2 managers (Adrian Martinez-Blaser and Austin Mayhugh).
In their first match, the Cardinals were matched up against defending U19 champions, METNY RFU. The team started fast out of the gate and early pressure resulted in a penalty for the Cardinals that Joe Eustace slotted (3-0, Cardinals). Shortly thereafter, the ball was spun wide to wing, Alex Gascoyne, who turned the corner and raced in for the try. Eustace converted and the score was 10-0 Cardinals.
METNY struck back with intense pressure and were rewarded with two penalties that they made (10-6, Cardinals). Gascoyne added his second try as he intercepted a ball on what looked to be a massive overload by METNY. Eustace converted and the first half end 17-6 in favor of the Cardinals.
In the second half, METNY showed why they were last year’s champs as they quickly added two converted trys to their score line, taking a 20-17 lead. The Cardinals grabbed the lead back when David Roddy (former All Star soccer player) pounced on a dropped METNY pass and toed the ball ahead into the in goal and scored a try. Once again Eustace converted (24-20, Cardinals). The Cardinals added an insurance try when Gascoyne grabbed a ball that rebounded off the goal post on Eustace’s missed penalty kick (29-20, Cardinals). METNY roared back, scoring a try but it was too little, too late and the Cardinals had an upset 29-25 win.
In their second match of the day versus the PRU, the Cardinals knew a win would put them into the championship match. They started off red hot, as wing Brian Hay-Stuart bolted down the sideline for a try and Eustace made the conversion (7-0, Cardinals). Eustace added a penalty kick and the Cardinals had a 10-0 lead at the half. In the second half, the team began to show signs of weakness. After being warned for repeated offside, the Cardinals were dinged and had a player sent to the sin bin. The PRU quickly scored 2 trys, one converted, to take a 12-10 lead.
Back to full strength, the Cardinals mounted a furious attempt to regain the lead but a second yellow card meant once again they were shorthanded. Again the PRU capitalized, scoring a converted try to stretch their lead to 19-10. The Cardinals however were not finished as Eustace made a penalty kick to draw the team within a converted try from the lead (13-19, PRU). On the ensuing kickoff with time running out, the Cardinals lost possession and the PRU sent the ball to touch ending the match knocking the Cardinals out of the championship match.
On Sunday, the Cardinals faced a strong Carolina team in the third place match. Carolina struck first when the ball popped out of the scrum that the Cardinals had taken against the head (0-5, Carolina). The Cardinals quickly tied the match as once again Gascoyne turned the corner to score his fourth try of the tournament (5-5). Unfortunately, Carolina steamed ahead and never looked back as they scored 5 converted trys and a penalty kick to hand the Cardinals a humbling 43-5 loss. Although the team ended on a down note, they had competed well and five players were recognized by the USA Selectors as potential age-grade players for the USA.
In their first effort, the Cardinals provided an avenue to young U19 players to be seen by USA Selectors and College Coaches. The organization looks forward to the 2012 RAST season.
St. John's College HS
Cardinals U19 team. Seated (left to right)- Bangura, Gaskins, Hay-Stuart, Brownley, Gascoyne, Wagner, Aravelo, S. Mayhugh. Kneeling (left to right)- Kettell, Walton, Cooper, Garmendia, Deegan, Bikoff, Brown, Culia, Hensley. Standing (left to right)- Brownley, Maccubbin, Martinez-Blaser, Lester, Lyons-Burke, Willis, Medlej, Gunter, Johnson, Humphrey, Bryne, Constable, Eustace, Perdu, Roddy, Puopolo, A. Mayhugh, Whelan
Aspen Ruggerfest 2011 Thursday: Boulder v Virginia