Northeast Rugby Football Union Finals
With last week’s nailbiter against New London behind them NoJo looked to punch their ticket to Nationals in the spring against the best NERFU had to offer with a pair of final four matches for the Regional championship. In both games NoJo played the type of smart, hard-nosed rugby that had guided them through their undefeated season, characterized by punishing, disciplined work from the pack paired with explosive plays from the backs. Mixed in with solid defensive work and real-estate devouring counters, NoJo’s style invited both teams to show them how they would cope with the NYRFU champions.
Neither one of the Northern squads had an answer. In Saturday’s game NoJo jumped out to an early lead and seemed to be destined for an easy triumph before giving up a trio of bizarre tries and handing North Shore 15 points. Although NoJo was able to punch in another score before the break for a 20-15 advantage things suddenly looked bleak as Bubbles was red-carded early in the second half for an attempted decapitation, putting NoJo down a man for the rest of game. While this should have been a marked disadvantage, NoJo was able to outscore North Shore 10-0 over the next 20 minutes. And when the North Shore #8 told his team three scores in eleven minutes was doable, he was right – but not about which team would do it. NoJo cashed in another three tries, one converted, and earned a trip to Nationals with a 47-15 pasting.
Sunday brought the Championship match and a load of excuses from Buffalo before the game even started, with claims of being out all night and missing several starters, etc. Given the way the match went, one certainly hopes that was true because their performance was not particularly impressive. NoJo scored early and often and rolled to a gaudy 37-0 halftime lead. The scoring was spread around and once again the NoJo defense completely shut the opposition down. Buffalo was unable to get anything going until NoJo brought in a full compliment of subs, and even then they managed nothing more than a long PK and an unconverted try after a lengthy battle. When the final whistle sounded North Jersey found themselves in possession of another piece of hardware (yet not an actual physical trophy) as NERFU champions and ranked as the #2 DIII team in the nation. With the Eastern US sweet sixteen scheduled for late May NoJo intends to win there as well and proudly represent our players both past and present at the National Finals in Glendale, Colorado, in early June. In addition to winning those games NoJo must also raise significant funds to make the trips so please watch the site, the message boards, and email for upcoming events and give what you can spare.
There were far too many individual feats this weekend to list them all (ie. Dude’s stiff-arm clinic, Bag’s 90 meter kick and chase, Fitz and Ian tearing long runs off dummies, the pack dominating lineouts, scrums, and rucking, etc) but if you took the over on the number of stupid penalties Dickman would get whistled for, your bookie owes you money.
NERFU Regional Quarterfinals
November 14, 2009
Field 75 Randall’s Island NYC
North Jersey (10-0) 5, New London County FC (?-?) 0
Cool, breezy, some rain, turf pitch
With mission accomplished and the METNYRFU Division III championship tucked away NoJo set their sights on a trip to Nationals. The first roadblock to the lofty goal arrived in the form of the New London County FC, #3 seed from New England. Having never faced this team before NoJo wasn’t sure what to expect, and early on it seemed as if New London was going to follow Brooklyn’s style of kicking for attack. NoJo counters led to the ball being held mostly in New London territory for most of the first half, but knock ons, forward passes, and far too many penalties thwarted all the scoring opportunies. Finally NoJo was able to use sustained pressure to put New London’s backs to the wall and Crazy Greg was able to dive for the corner as the ball was spun wide. Skip’s conversion sailed wide, and NoJo took a 5-0 lead into the break.
In the second half NoJo seemed to stray from their game plan, abandoning the drivers and getting into a kicking contest with New London. This led to a great deal of the play taking place between the 22s as neither team could punch one in. As time grew short a desperate New London found themselves with a 5 meter penalty and a chance to at least tie the game, but NoJo’s defense, strong all game, rose to the challenge by stuffing a few drivers and regaining control when a New London back knocked it on. NoJo was able to repel all further scoring attempts and breathed a sigh of relief at the final whistle, knowing they’d managed a win while playing far below the high standards they’d set this season. Game balls to the back three of Bag, Bubbles, and Dude, who were able to consistently blunt New London’s kicking attack with long counters in addition to Dude unloading several thundering hits as well. Next up is the semifinal match against North Shore this Saturday at 2pm – your support is appreciated.
Starting XV: 1 – Dickman; 2 – Patty O; 3 – Crazy Greg; 4 – Big Dave Kelly; 5 – Meathead; 6 – Bambi; 7 – Brownie; 8 – ‘What concussion?’ Nails; 9 – Ian; 10 – ‘I’m gonna kill you #15!’ Fitz; 11 – Dude; 12 – ‘There was a game and I didn’t score?’ Joe; 13 – Skip; 14 – Bubbles the Cleated; 15 – Bag Subs: Corey; Bloody Ox; Botch; Ponch
North Jersey v. Brooklyn – DIII Championship
And so it came down to this, a single game under the shadow of some bridge with the NYC skyline looming across the East River. NoJo’s quest for both the Division III Championship and a perfect season was nearly at an end, and only Brooklyn stood in the way. The Barons had claimed that key players were held out of the regular season match and for the first 10 minutes or so it appeared as there might have been some truth to that as they held the upper hand in play. But NoJo had come into the match with the simple belief that they were the better team, and as they settled down and began to play their style of game the results were quick to appear. Utilizing series of drivers interspersed with quick outs to the back NoJo drove the field, blasting away at the Brooklyn forwards until Dude was left one on one with his opposing wing. His counterpart was unable to stop him near the corner and Dude alertly touched down under the posts for first blood. Ian’s conversion made it 7-0, and soon after NoJo was knocking on the door again with sustained rucking and large gains from the backs. This set up another overload and Fitz touched it down in the corner. With Ian’s conversion from the sideline going just inches wide NoJo had a 12-0 lead.
Brooklyn’s game plan appeared to involved a great deal of kicking, but time and time again NoJo’s back three of Bag, Saverio, and Dude were able to neutralize the Baron attack with counters. Off an odd play that involved a clearing kick bouncing and rolling for some 60 meters Brooklyn found themselves on NoJo’s doorstep, and for the next ten minutes they attempted repeatedly to touch it down via a series of penalties and 5 meter scrums. It wasn’t until Dickman was carded and sinbinned for offsides that they were able to break though near the sideline, and the conversion kick sailed just wide. With the score at 12-5 the Brooklyn sideline came alive with yells promising both a comeback and a momentum change.
NoJo responded to this in perhaps the best way it could be handled. In what was perhaps the most impressive sequence of the entire season NoJo rammed the ball down the throat of the Brooklyn defense, pounding away with drivers before they created another overload and Dude once again ran over his counterpart to find the try zone. It should be noted that this was done with Dickman still in the bin. Brooklyn managed to tack on a penalty kick before the half ended, but they seemed largely frustrated at the general ineffectiveness of their game plan to that point. At the break NoJo held a 17-8 advantage.
As the temperature dipped and the wind picked up much of the play stayed between the 22s. While both teams mounted threats the defense was good on both sides and every breakdown was hotly contested. Finally NoJo would break through again and Joe blasted through the tiring Brooklyn defense for another try. With their kicking game still being handled by the back three of Bubbles, Botch, and Bag Brooklyn tried a more traditional attack, but the results weren’t what they needed. They were finally able to put one down as time expired, with NoJo perhaps celebrating a bit too early, but it was too little, too late. The North Jersey Rugby Football Club had won the 2009 METNYRFU Division III Championship with an undefeated season and will play in Division II next year. Before that, however, are the Northeast Regional Championships, with NoJo holding the #1 overall seed. Look for the date and location of the game on the main page of the site.
Although the season will continue on with the regionals, NoJo would like to take this opportunity to thank those that deserve it:
- Junior from the New York RFC, who was kind enough to lend us his team’s goal pads and flags for the championship game and to stick around the entire game so we could put them away. A classy move – thank you again.
- Jay Brown and the Seton Hall RFC for sharing their home field with us and supporting us at our games.
- The William Paterson RFC for their support and for practicing with us. Congrats on their 3rd consecutive DIII championship as well!
- Bambi for taking care of the website, the uniform ordering, and a host of other things.
- The teammates who get to every practice while knowing they probably aren’t going to start. Your aid in invaluable and your time will come.
- On that note, thanks to Chip for his wisdom gained by experience and for keeping our heads from getting too big as the wins began piling up.
- Everyone who chipped in for the new uniforms. Whether you like the design or not, we look much better in them than in the old ones.
- Last but not least, our coach Steve ‘the Babe’ Rice, who had the unpleasant task of getting a bunch of drunken malcontents both into shape and well-trained, who made us practice longer when we just wanted to go to Shortways, and who drilled the basics into our heads that would elevate our game to where it is now. Without him this championship probably doesn’t happen.
- I was going to thank Pack Captain Brownie and Backs Captain Joe, but screw ‘em.
Starting XV: 1 – Dickman; 2 – Patty O; 3 – Crazy Greg; 4 – Meathead; 5 – Dave Brown; 6 – Brownie; 7 – Bambi; 8 – Nails; 9 – Ian; 10 – Fitz; 11 – Dude; 12 – Joe; 13 – Skip; 14 – Saverio; 15 – Bag Subs: Dino; Corey; Ox; Bubbles; Ponch; Botch. Additional players: Albie; Banana; Mike C; Streaker; Glen; Silima; Mike; Fidel.
North Jersey v. Hudson Valley
There were a lot of things factoring into the game on Halloween that threatened to derail NoJo’s quest for a perfect season: the windy, rainy weather; the quagmire-like condition of the field; the absolutely horrible job done by the ref; and a Hudson Valley team that wasn’t going to go away quietly. NoJo came out agressively and spent the first 15 minutes deep in Hudson Valley territory, only to come away with nothing. They would hold a decided advantage for most of the half but were kept off the scoreboard by a combination of bad luck, bad calls, and ill-timed knock ons. Finally their persistence paid off as Dude was able to touch one down in the corner for a 5-0 lead. Just before halftime Hudson Valley was able to answer back with a sustained drive down most of the field, taking advantage of a lapse in NoJo’s previously disciplined tackling to knot the score at 5.
In the second half NoJo was able to once again keep the the pressure on and, after several close calls, retook the lead as Joe powered in. Skip’s conversion made the score 12-5, but Hudson Valley quickly responded with a penalty kick to draw within 12-8. From then on they were able to apply some pressure and even had a 5 meter scrum but were unable to cash in as NoJo’s defense proved up to the task of shutting them down while field conditions further deteriorated. With Brooklyn’s upset win over Rockaway the championship game against the Barons will be this Saturday at 3pm at Randall’s Island (our field is unplayable) and all support would be appreciated. See the front page for directions.
North Jersey v. Brooklyn
Referee [Rob Perle]
NoJo did a good job of keeping the passes short and using their size to win the points of contact on this muddy, sloppy day. NoJo kept things very conservative and got their points when available. Brooklyn never got their offense going and almost never had possession in the attacking 22. All things considered, the match moved along quite well despite the expected high KO count. Kudos to both packs for keeping the scrums from collapsing, despite having to rely on 5 inches of soupy oatmeal for footing.
North Jersey v. Kingston Mad Dogs
With several regular starters out the rest of NoJo made the long trip up to Woodstock to play the Kingston Mad Dogs. In spite of their record Kingston was up for the game and started off with several big hits. NoJo was having problems understanding how the ref was viewing rucks – basically, it seemed like ‘do what you want!’ – but a couple of long runs by the backs was capped with a converted try by Joe. Dude powered in for another one soon after, but the Mad Dogs responded to make the score 12-5. Another try by Dude was converted by Skip to stretch the lead to 19-5, but a pair of penalty kicks had the score at 19-11 at the break.
Kingston recovered the kickoff deep in NoJo territory to start the second half, but a long run by Skip that ended with Botch juking a defender out of his shorts upped the advantage to 24-11. NoJo would go on to score 3 out of the next 4 tries to put the game out of reach as Kingston simply could not stop our backs. The Mad Dogs tacked on a couple of tries to make the score respectable after NoJo started subbing in reserves, but the final try belonged to the team in the snazzy new uniforms who walked away with a 49-25 triumph. The B game also went to NoJo. Game balls to the entire set of NoJo backs, including No Wrap Fidel who made several try-saving tackles against much larger players, and to Berk, who provided a spark in the second half.
NoJo’s quest for the perfect season continues with a visit from Brooklyn after the bye week. A win would wrap up home field advantage for the playoffs and all supporters are highly encouraged to come root us on.
North Jersey v. Suffolk
Maybe it was because it was a trap game as NoJo was coming off of an emotional win over Rockaway the week before. Perhaps much of the credit should be given to Suffolk, as they fought and played hard the entire game. Possibly part of the problem was that ref, among other issues, was completely incapable of noting that the Suffolk backline was several meters offsides at just about every ruck. Whatever the reason or reasons might have been, the simple fact was that NoJo played well below their potential Saturday and ended up in a dogfight of a game.
Suffolk missed a chance at an early lead as a PK sailed wide, and the game quickly settled into a choppy match with little flow. Mistakes, odd penalties, and porr decisions kept the score at 0-0 until NoJo worked a textbook maul off a lineout, driving it over and giving Patty O the first try of the day. Skip nailed the conversion off a tough angle to make it 7-0. Suffolk answered with a PK to draw within 7-3, but as the half wound down Joe was able to blast through the Suffolk defense and push the score to 12-3.
The second half was as sloppy as the first, with NoJo driving well down the field before giving up possession on a knock-on, a penalty, or a lost ruck. Finally NoJo made the Suffolk backs pay for cheating up (since the ref seemed uninterested in doing so)as Dino blasted a driver through the line and took off on a 40 meter gallop for a try, stretching the lead to 17-3. The Bullmoose weren’t about to go away, and a clearing kick that went to the middle of the field set up the Suffolk backs for an easy try, and with the conversion the game was suddenly uncomfortably close at 17-10.
But as they’ve done all season. NoJo quickly responded to an opposing team’s score. Sustained rucking led to Fitz being able to outrace the Suffolk defense to the corner, and that closed the scoring as NoJo was able to shut the Bullmoose down the rest of the way. With Brooklyn getting clobbered by Rockaway NoJo finds themselves alone atop of the D3 standings at 4-0 and hopes to bring their level of play back up to where it should be. With the backs looking a little thin depthwise it’s a good time to get to practice.
North Jersey v. Rockaway
Fort Tilden, Rockaway, Queens
NoJo (3-0) 27, Rockaway (2-1) 22
Sunny, warm, overgrown pitch
NoJo took a ride to Rockaway Beach for a match against the Fisheads in a battle of unbeaten squads. Despite having a quite large size advantage in their pack Rockaway was unable to set the tempo in a tightly played first half. NoJo got the scoring started as Ian drilled a PK through from about 25 meters out, but Rockaway answered with a three-pointer of their own. Both teams had chances to score but a combination of knock-ons, penalties, and stingy defense kept the score at 3 all until Patty O was able to slip through the Rockaway line for an unconverted try. A sustained try-line stand at the end of the half allowed NoJo to take their 8-3 lead into the break.
Unfortunately, Nojo came out curiously flat to begin the 2nd half and Rockaway quickly took advantage, breaking off one long run and then using a sequence of rucks to score a pair on unconverted tries to take a 15-8 lead. Undaunted, NoJo fired back as Skip punched in a try that Ian converted to tie the game back up. Not long after Saverio found his way to the try zone and Ian put one through from almost on the sideline to give NoJo a 22-15 advantage. But a deflected kick took a bad-luck bounce for NoJo and allowed Rockaway to draw even again.
From that point on, however, the match moved to NoJo’s beat, and after a long run by Skip and a nice play by Botulism Joe was able to blast through the line for the game-winning try. One of Rockaway’s players was sin binned soon after that and minutes later NoJo was 3-0, alone atop the division. In a spirited B game of 10’s Rockaway squeaked out a 28-21 win.
North Jersey v. Old Maroon
The quest to win the 2009 METRFU Division 3 championship began on a scorchingly hot pitch at Fordham University this past Saturday afternoon. Fresh off their Jersey Shore Tournament championship won the wek before, NoJo wanted to start the campaign off in strong fashion. And, as the final indicates, they did.
Despite the lopsided score Nojo did not play as well as they are capable of. There were too many knock-ons, too many poor decisions, and way too many penalties, but these faults couldn’t completely derail NoJo’s desire to win. The tone was set early on as the pack rotated and stole the first two Old Maroon scrums, and solid rucking combined with powerful running from the backs soon resulted in scores. Joe powered through the Old Maroon backline first, then Crazy Greg was the beneficiary of a textbook perfect maul off a lineout for another score. Two more scores, with Skip adding a pair of conversions, had NoJo up 24-0 at the break.
Old Maroon showed they weren’t going to go away quietly, scoring early in the second half on a long run that featured not one, not two, but three missed calls, but NoJo answered back immediately with a try of their own, which seemed to utterly deflate the home team. With NoJo completely dominating both offensive and defensive lineouts as well as stealing their fair share of scrums, the points began to pile up as the backs tore off numerous long, punishing runs. Old Maroon was unable to take advantage of NoJo mistakes – for instance, they twice had penalties inside the NoJo 15 meter line but kicked the ball through the try zone – and were stymied several times by NoJo’s try-line defense. The final whistle blew with NoJo taking a 41-5 victory and both sides agreeing no B game was necessary.
Scorers: Joe (2T), Skip (2T) (3C), Crazy Greg (T), Saverio (T), Brownie (?) (T)