2014 Toronto Rugby Champions

2013 Toronto Rugby Fall Cup Winners

Bay Street RFC 1s and 2s both win their respective TRU Playoffs finals defeating the Nomads in both games. Congratulations Pigs!

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Bay Street RFC understands the need to balance a busy schedule with rugby. We pride ourselves on a flexible approach to team preparation and talent management, while maintaining rugby excellence playing in the Toronto Rugby Union.

 

Our club is growing. Our teams are highly competitive. Our socials are legendary.

 

Come find out why and get in touch with your inner pig.

 

Contact: info@baystreetrugby.net

 

Musical Chairs and It's Always Darkest Before the Dawn

As a child no birthday party was complete without a game of Musical Chairs. All eyes would be trained on the adult as giggling, excited children circled cautiously round the chairs before mayhem broke loose when the music stopped as each child rush to claim one. Tears inevitably followed as the last kid standing was led away from the mirth and merriment before being consoled by hordes of candies containing enough ‘E’ numbers to ensure the Duracell’s energy bunny would look comatose in comparison to little Johnny over the next day or two much to his parents chagrin. If, as the old adage goes, forwards win matches and the backs by how much one could break it down further in that a team’s back row will determine whether that team plays on the front or back foot, secures or delays quick ball depending whether they are attacking or defending and disrupts the oppositions plans or not.

Reminiscing on Bay Street’s 36-21 Championship victory over the Nomads the Pigs back row of Chris Jacks, Tom Kimball and Alistair Clark were monumental. In Musical Chairs parlance think of the kid left standing as the opponent with the ball and one of Jacks, Kimball or Clark as the music. No kid wants to be last person standing and no opponent wants to be in possession when one or all of this trio are playing. Their hits were seismic and their collective and individual toughness would have made the dystopian motorcycle gangs in Mad Max think long and hard before challenging them. On Saturday the Nomads, for all their qualities of which they have many, had no answer. And not just to the back row: this may have been Bay Street’s strength but it wasn’t as if they were exactly lacking in any other department. From 1 – 15 each Pig brought an intensity and attitude that they would not accept coming second, that this would be their day and if the Nomads were to win then they would have to produce the game of their lives.

As is so often the case between these two teams the pace and ferocity of the game was something to behold matched only by the genuine level of respect. Bay Street made the early inroads with their pack in dominant form. A lineout on halfway was claimed by Kimball with Clark and then Jacks making inroads. Philippe took a huge hit as the next ball carrier but retained possession. Alistair took the ball up to the Nomads centers and quick ruck ball gave Ryan Tomlinson the time and space to slice open the defense. His pass to Bucky was not held and the Nomads countered themselves. A long pass to their winger did not go to hand and Clark, like a killer whale hovering just as baby seals are being introduced to the ocean for their first and last time, was there to pounce. Snaffling the ball on the ground his pass found Trevor Anderson in support and over he went to open the scoring.

The Nomads responded but the Pigs defense held firm. Shortly afterwards another lineout, won by Clark jumping at 2, was the catalyst for their next try. The behemoth that is Steve Donelle took the ball up crashing through the first attempted tackle and having the skills to deftly offload the ball as the outside center struggled to contain him to his center partner Tomlinson. If Donelle is death by bludgeoning than Tomlinson is death by a 1,000 rapier cuts. Taking advantage of the disruption in the Nomads ranks he raced into their 22 before putting in a grubber kick for the supporting Bucky who was tackled off the ball over the tryline. The result was a penalty try.

Bay Street’s third try originated from brilliant defensive work from Spencer Morgan and Todd Cornford. A clearance kick from Bucky was fielded by the Nomads who ran it back. Morgan and Cornford, who were both chasing the kick, pincer tackled the attacker and ripped the ball from his grasp giving the Pigs turnover ball. Spotting a gap Andy Tyler darted through and got in behind the first line of defenders. Ian Davies was first on hand and spun the ball to Jacks whose inside pop pass to Clark coming on the angle completely wrong footed the defense. It was simplicity and beauty all at once and it left Alistair with an unopposed run in under the posts.

The back row was the genesis for the Pigs fourth try. Kimball chased a Burton kick and tacked the coving winger into touch deep in the Nomads 22 which not only gave Bay Street great field position but also possession. Not satisfied with merely creating the position Kimball won the line out also with the pack driving him forward and then Alistair taking the ball on further. Donelle took two more defenders out of the game and then, like a match made in heaven, Burton found Bucky. Graceful, eloquent, majestic, beautifully balanced and breathtakingly brilliant. Bucky is all these things and more. Taking the ball and without breaking stride he stepped between two flailing tacklers and rounded a third before diving in to score and bring the half time score to 26-0.

The first 10 minutes before and after half time are what is termed 'Championship time'. A score for the team leading during this can kill a game and conversely a conceded score can galvanize a side and give them hope. The Nomads came out strongly and determined to do themselves justice. Early pressure paid dividends as they scored a try. A second followed shortly afterwards and the Pigs lead was cut to 12.

Things appeared to go from bad to worse as Bay Street suffered three yellow cards effectively playing the second half with 14 men and at one point 13. All three, according to the referee were for ill-discipline and whether the Pigs agree or not it is a point to consider for next season.

Down to 13 men the PIgs conceded another converted try and all of a sudden with 10 minutes to go the lead was 5 points and the Nomads were a team believing this was their day. The 1s are a formidable team though and have leaders throughout. It is said that it is always darkest before the dawn and at this point it looked damned dark for the Pigs. Camped on their line and down to 13 it looked as though the Nomads may get in for another score. Davies and Noah Harrison had other ideas though and turned over a critical ball. Andy Tyler whipped the ball to Burton who put in a huge relieving kick. It was an enormous moment as it ate more time from the clock and made the Nomads start all over again.

Back to 14 the play of the game and possibly the season arrived. Picking up a clearance kick and facing his own line Todd Cornford appeared to have limited options available. Todd, believing that offence is the best form of defence, countered running at the Nomads and then putting a long grubber kick in. The covering player had at least three yards on Todd but there's gold in them there Aussie legs. From the sidelines it was like watching your horse catch the race favourite in the last 10 meters. Supporters were screaming Todd on and when his dive on the ball beat the Nomad's despairing arms the crowd, as they say, went wild. Not as wild as Todd or Trevor though who was first there in support. The Nomads were crestfallen whilst the Pigs were in rapture as both teams knew this was the winning score.

The icing on the cake was delivered a couple of minutes later when Bucky converted a penalty following pressure exerted by the back row. 36-21 and the Championship was Bay Streets.

There were joyous scenes afterwards and all well deserved. For some this was the first Championship they had won as an adult, for others it was recompense for last season whilst for others it was the reward for the sacrifices made throughout and prior to the season.

It has been another wonderful season for the club and the most successful in its short history. The players, and their significant others, should take a bow for making it so. It is the players who go on the pitch every Saturday and add another chapter in this magnificent clubs history. Peter Shippen deserves credit too as President for the structures he and his Executive have put in place to allow the players perform to the level they can. Congratulations Mr. President and may your second term be as successful.

 

All that remains is to thank the players and congratulate them on their success. There may be other divisions and clubs but I can't think of any other I'd rather be part of. Over and out from Bay Street RFC.

Tic Tac Toe and Deserve Having Nothing To Do With It

The simplicity of Tic-tac-toe makes it an ideal pedagogical tool for distracting unruly children at restaurants by teaching good sportsmanship or the branch of artificial intelligence dealing in the searching of game trees. The latter was famously captured in the film War Games where, in a final effort to prevent a nuclear war, Joshua is instructed to play tic-tac-toe against itself and learning, in the process, that when two players play flawlessly the game always ends in a draw forcing the computer to learn the concept of an unwinnable game.

Bay Street 2s 26-0 Championship victory over the Nomads may not have resulted in an unwinnable game but the way they nullified every aspect of the Nomads play must have left their opponents with the unenviable feeling that, from early on, they were in an unwinnable game. The Pigs out-thought and out-played their opponents in every aspect of play and the remarkable part of it, considering it was the Championship final, was the ease at which they prevailed. Not once, bar restarts, did the Nomads get into the Pigs half in the opening 40 minutes. In the second half bar an interception that seemed a certain try which was magnificently defended and prevented by Jordan Partridge they did not threaten either. This is not to belittle or denigrate the Nomads who are a fine team and storied club but rather to understand the efficient ruthlessness of Bay Street’s performance.

Nomads entered the game as favorites having won the previous two encounters but there is no disgrace in being an underdog: the only disgrace would be not having a plan to upset the odds. Before the game team captain Alex Prince asked his charges not to over commit to rucks and to keep putting their tackles in. The Pigs listened to his every word and executed their plan to perfection. From the kickoff Bay Street made their first tackle and then hit everything that came their way thereafter whether it be a pick at the base of a ruck or through their backs. Mark Byers was an early casualty of this when leading with his nose and coming out the other side looking like he had barely escaped from the grips of Leatherface. Bay Street kept their opponents pegged deep in their 22 and the Nomads were finding themselves equally stretched by the hard running of Alex Koppel and Nikita Lavreka and the gliding efforts of Stephane Nardin and Partridge.

Pressure can only be absorbed for so long though before something snaps. Bilal Husein, who was superb throughout and has been quite an addition to the club, charged forward bringing the ball to the 5 meter line. On the blindside Prince found Partridge. Jordan could sidestep a defender in a phone booth without a hand being touched on him and despite being close to the touchline and marked by two defenders he ghosted through to open the scoring in the corner.

From the restart Godzilla was unleashed and went on one of his obligatory destructive rumbles. The ball was worked deep into the Nomads half again with Koppel, Simmons, Jason LeMar and Chris Berrigan figuring prominently. Such a fine passage of play was deserving of a fitting climax and it came from the book of Prince and the rugby brain of Nardin. With the forwards picking and driving in close the Nomads defense was sucked in. Realizing this Prince put in a cross-field kick for Lavreka. The ball bounced over both his and the defenders heads in the in-goal area but Nardin had run a supporting line and gleefully touched down to increase the Pigs score.

The tactical kicking from Prince and Liam Boyle was a feature of the game and it kept the Nomads pinned in their half. From the restart the ball was put straight back into the Nomads half. The pack continued to work hard and force rushed decisions and mistakes. In an attempt to clear their lines the Nomads 10 sliced his kick into touch following Husein’s pressure. Simmons won the lineout and the ball went out along the backs to Lavreka who was tackled on the 22. A long pass coming back the other way from Prince found Simmons in space. With Partridge outside him and defenders rushing across Micah calmly, as if Micah is any other way, stepped inside wrong footing the Nomads and scored untouched under the posts.

From the restart the Pigs were immediately on the attack through Godzilla. Some beautifully intricate handling from Tom Mathews, Nardin and Koppel saw Stephane scythe through the Nomads. Koppel, who had a great game at 12, made further ground before being brought down. Micah had LeMar in support and although Jason was brought down just before the line he had the presence of mind to look for support with a grateful Micah taking the return pass to score his second and the Pigs fourth try. Koppel kicked an incredible conversion, to add to two previous successful attempts to bring the half time score to 26-0.

The Pigs took to the field adamant that there would be no respite. The Nomads tried to up the pace and crack Bay Street’s defence but to a man the Pigs were belligerence personified exemplified through the front row of Chris Berrigan, Chris Boyack and LeMar. Their mobility round the park and work in the tight has been a big reason for the 2s success this season. When the Nomads attempted to gain ground through a kicking game Mathews sent it back with interest or else it was run straight back at them through Koppel, Godzilla or any other Pig.

The Nomads best chance of a score came towards the end of the game when a Chase Robinson pass was intercepted. At this point the game was over as a contest but pride was at stake on both sides. The Nomads season didn’t deserve to end being shut out in the Championship game but as William Munny’s character in Unforgiven remarked whilst standing over Big Whiskey’s sheriff Little Bill Daggett with a cocked shotgun in hand protesting that he didn’t deserve to die that way sometimes “deserve’s got nothing to with it”. Jordan Partridge tracked back and not only made the tackle but in doing so knocked the ball out of the attackers hand and the danger was cleared. It was the play of the season and typified the Pigs attitude on the day. Observing from the sidelines Director of Rugby and lifelong Robinson friend, Jon Goode, remarked that the former Marine officers pass should lead to a termination of command with extreme prejudice. Had it gone to hand though it would have been the Pigs that would have been in for another try.

Nardin, at this stage playing at 15, fielded a clearing kick and ran it back with Alain van Thiel in support. Not the smallest of chaps Alain proved as difficult as he looks to tackle and brought play right back to the Nomads 22. Peter Weingarden was, as ever, first man there and taking the pass ran under the posts to touchdown only for the referee to call the play back for a forward pass. All that was left was for Godzilla to go on one last terrorizing run for old times sake and bid adieu to another wonderful personal and collective season.

 

In the post game huddle Jon Goode said it all. The season was indeed a hoot and its success was so much more than the 22 Pigs in the match day squad on Saturday. There were so many players who contributed throughout the season that either weren’t there on didn’t take to the pitch. This was a victory for all and should be enjoyed as such. So congratulations Pigs and enjoy the feeling of being Champions. Lord knows you deserve it.

The Large Hadron Collider and the Wrath of Goode

The opening sentence of Charles Dickens novel A Tale of Two Cities, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…”, might best describe Ladies Aux where the resounding victories of the 1s and 2s and entertaining 3s game was overshadowed by the circumstances that led the clubs founder and Director of Rugby, Jon Goode, from the field during the first’s game. We all wish Jon well in his recuperation and offer the same advice to the medical staff looking after him that is proffered to the opposition before Jon takes the field: “please don’t piss him off” for the Wrath of Goode is dispensed without fear or favor to friend and foe alike.

On a beautiful sunny day watched by even more beautiful and glamorous supporters the 1s took to the field resplendent in their playing kits and in no mood for there to be any conjecture about the result. Having defeated the same opponents in an evening game the previous week Bay Street knew what to expect and were bolstered by the return of several key players. The mindset and attitude was exemplary throughout and the Pigs were good value for their 75 - 15 victory. It would take too long to describe all 11 tries scored but the sharing of them between backs and forwards illustrates the free flowing rugby the club is famous for and makes this team just a joy to watch at times. What is particularly impressive is the ease at which they make it look but it is anything but. What is on display is the culmination of great skill, understanding, intelligence and awareness both individually and collectively. Like Kimball and Burton’s beautiful combination of pink, green and white kit design so the 2014 Pigs compliment each other’s style and play.

The scrum has been a particularly strong weapon for the Pigs play of late and it was deployed early on when a Mississauga put in was disrupted enough for Andy Tyler to drag his opponent into touch and give the Pigs an attacking lineout deep in the Blues half. Quick ball off the top from Kimball gave Burton the opportunity to put Bucky into space. Scientists at CERN working on the Large Hadron Collider have spent 15 years building and then a further 2 years conducting experiments to circulate two proton particle beams in order that they smash into each other as part of the road towards proving the existence of the Higgs Boson. The Mississauga defense may well empathize with their scientific colleagues because in this form it is easier to get two protons to collide than to tackle one Andrew Buxton-Forman. Away he went finding Spencer in support who had an easy run in to open the scoring.

If Bucky is one particle than the other proton in heartache must be Ryan Tomlinson. For those old enough to remember the fabulous French team of the 1980’s they may recall Philippe Sella. Sella, who was recognized for his footballing brilliance by all those who played with or against him, was not particularly big of frame but his speed, vision and strength set him apart from all others. Tomlinson is of the same breed. One wonders how he would fare were he 10 kgs heavier and six inches taller like most modern centres but then the skills he possess which make him such a special player to watch would probably have been coached out of him in favor of mind-numbingly boring tramline rugby and the brainwashing of creativeness. Conor O’Shea, the Director of Rugby at Harlequins said that Nick Evans, their New Zealand outhalf, was so good he would pay to watch him train. Well if the Pigs ever went down that route Bucky and Tomlinson would fall into that bracket.

For all the artistry displayed though one of the keys to the team’s success is the work rate and hard yards made by others. The pack was immense on Saturday. The front row of Tait, Trevor and Shippen were exceptional in the tight and never allowed their opponents to settle. Trevor is having a magnificent season and is consistently one of the team’s best players. His basics as a hooker are never short of solid but he is so dynamic with the ball in hand that it is like having an extra wing forward on the pitch who can run, pass, tackle and make a break. Another who is contributing handsomely is Noah Harrison who continues to impress with each outing. Noah’s ball handling and ability to make ground created great go-forward ball.

Probably the greatest compliment a player can have is to be recognized by their peers. Known as a ‘players player’ is the ultimate accolade and goes to those who continually carry out all the unseen work that allows others to shine. Quite simply Ian Davies is a players player. He was vocal in the mid-week Pigs v Blues pre-match huddle that the Dragons debacle would not be repeated and that a repeat performance was not acceptable. He played that night as he demanded others did. He did it again on Saturday. Ian is probably not in as many game photos as he would like but that is because he is at the bottom of rucks, stuck in a maul or getting up from another tackle. People on the sideline may not notice his contributions but you can be certain that his fellow Pigs do. The 2s miss an Ian Davies and when he is not playing the 1s do too.

There is always place for an extravagantly gifted player though and it was wonderful to see Alistair Clark return to the Pigs colours after injuries and his Blues duties. The Baby Faced Assassin was at the peak of his powers between body-wincing tackles and link play of the highest order. Having Alistair on your roster is like a bird you want to keep caged but some birds feathers are too bright and need to be shared for others to enjoy too.

Providing the glue was the halfback pairing of Andy Tyler and Dave Burton. The pack gave them a good platform to work from and neither disappointed. Burton may claim that there are better footballers than him but whether they possess his intelligence and positional understanding is debatable. He is also the leader which everyone listens to. That is what makes him such an important and pivotal player for Bay Street. Andy is such a technically gifted scrum half, a good decision maker and never gets flustered. The Pigs are indeed fortunate to have such gifted players in pivotal positions. They combined wonderfully on Saturday.

All these components combined to make the Pigs virtually unplayable at times. With Mo and Nikita, no weak links themselves, running and hitting hard Mississauga had no answer to the onslaught they faced. To their credit they never gave up and picked up some second half tries but these were when the game was long over as a contest. Plus when they did threaten Bay Street came back harder than before. It may have been Ladies Aux but the mood was not charitable on the pitch and nor should it be.

 

The full opening sentence to A Tale of Two Cities is "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way - in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.” Maybe that is the best way to describe Saturday. A day full of good, full of bad, full of hope, despair, redemption, foolishness, wisdom and the realization that all days are like these. It’s what you take from them that matters. Onwards and upwards to better things Mr. Goode and my fellow Pigs.

Aussie Gold and Good Manners

The 2s enjoyed a 80 – 10 victory over their, admittedly under strength, Mississauga Blues counterparts in a very entertaining game scoring 12 tries to 2. With Bay Street playing the Yeomen in the semi finals this Saturday the form on show is welcomed. Also encouraging is the return to the fold of Todd Cornford, a wonderfully astute and talented rugby player. If Todd’s footballing nous could be bottled it could well replace breast milk. The side effects could be that your darling child might grow up to support the Brumbies or speak with an Aussie twang but on the plus side they would be fantastic rugby players.

Bay Street lent the Blues a player or three before with your intrepid hack one of them. Having last played wing forward when Ronald Regan was President and somewhat cognizant of his duties it was quite a shock to find oneself back there again. Far from it being like riding a bike in that once learnt the skill is not forgotten it can only be described as the feeling Astronaut George Taylor must have had having found himself stranded in a land of talking apes. It certainly felt bewildering as wave upon wave of Bay Street pressure unfolded through tight forward play and expansive back moves. In truth, even if the Blues has their full complement of players the Pigs would have been too strong for them. The pack were excellent to a man and their driving maul was used to tremendous effect making huge ground at times. When it is executed correctly, as it was on Saturday, it is almost impossible to stop it legally. With the power coming through and individuals involved the alternative of pulling it down illegally by grabbing hold of someone and throwing ones body in the way hoping to cause a domino effect simply didn’t appeal. At times discretion really is the better part of valor. The backs for their part were too good for the Blues. Prince and Liam dictated matters at half back whilst Tom Matthews, Koppel, Nikita and Chase ran amok. When the Blues did try to relieve pressure Todd Cornford was there to pick up the bouncing ball and it all started again for them.

In Catholicism before receiving the Body of Christ through the Eucharist recipients give thanks for what they are about to receive. Afterwards is a time of prayer, reflection and thanking God. Having received a pass there was no time for reflection as the ball attracted the carnivorous attention of Greg Hall. Never let it be said that the Pigs are not gentlemen though as Greg whispered an apology for the actions he was about to commit momentarily before hitting your scribe with such force that he thought he may very well be hurtling through time and space to meet his maker.

The first half ended with the Pigs well in the ascendency with Mississauga facing a daunting second half. It did not get easier for them either. Within a couple of minutes of the restart Cornford took a long pass from Prince and dissected the Blues backline beautifully to score untouched under the posts. Age is a number, class is class though and Todd has it in abundance. Cornford was at it again shortly afterwards. Jason LeMar took a restart, following an excellent Blues individual try, and took the ball forward. Maverick Wilson made further yards and when the ball came back it was the same combination of Prince and Cornford who struck again with Todd taking a beautiful line to add another try to his tally.

Not to be outdone Todd’s fellow aussie Sam Furphy got in on the scoring act shortly after. Russell Wilson, the only man who could make white leather dress shoes look cool, made a break upfield before Boyack took the ball on. Chase Robinson came off his wing and when he found Cornford in support he shredded the defense again. Furphy was running a supporting line and drawing the last man Todd’s pass put Sam over to register another Pigs try.

The Blues registered their second and final score and their punishment was the release of the Kraken. Greg Hall picked up from a scrum with Peter Weingarden making further ground. The ball was spun out the backs until it reached Koppel. Despite receiving the ball facing his own line the Kraken turned and took off evading or handing off six defenders on his way to the line. This was Koppel’s 2nd try of the game before adding a third when coming on the 1s in the later game. Allowing Koppel build up a head of steam is a fatal mistake for a defense.

By this stage the festivities were well and truly getting under way on the sidelines with the play on the park giving all the supporters plenty to celebrate. Nasser Jamal, who gets better with every game, stole a lineout and quick ball found the Kraken again in space but this time with Nikita Lavreka in support. Koppel went from his own to the Blues 22 before switching with Nikita. As hard as Koppel is to stop with a head of steam a defenders best chance of stopping a fully charging Nikita might be with a Scud missile. With none readily available to hand Nikita sprinted through to score under the posts.

Good manners are always rewarded and when one of the Blues had the misfortune to find Greg Hall in their way the ball was stripped and the Mississauga defense was treated to a front row seat of a rampaging Godzilla, not that they appreciated the fact. Outpacing threequarters over 60 meters Godzilla found Weingarden again in support. Peter’s pass to Maverick saw Wilson stride in to score the Pigs 12th and final try.

 

A team can only play what is in front of them and if the Blues were not the strongest opposition what is pleasing is that the Pigs kept to their task and did not let up. The 2s are percolating nicely and with several players to come back into the fold it should make for a difficult selection meeting for this week’s semi final. The ability to win is there, the attitude from the start must be right though. Some more Aussie gold wouldn’t hurt either.

A Momentary Lapse of Reason and the Sound of Falling Trees

“If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it does it make a sound?” is a philosophical thought experiment that raises questions regarding observation and knowledge of reality. It certainly will create a debate where those in the ‘ayes’ might cite that a radio would continue to transmit waves in the same room as a deaf person and that trees were around before man so why should man have any bearing on it whilst the ‘nays’ might cite George Orwell who wrote "everything exists through human consciousness" to the theory of Schrödinger's cat where reality does not happen unless there is an observer to the seemingly simple argument that without an ear to hear or an eye to see there is no "sound" as we know it, or "color/shapes/sizes" as we know them: only math. It’s interesting and more complex than one might initially think. Here is another one: if there is photographic evidence of 5 first half tries being scored (time and date stamped) but the referee only records 4 which is correct? Does one believe their eyes or what one is told which, from a risk management perspective, can be classed as a ‘single point of failure’? Whilst the example of the tree is theoretical the matter of tries scored is an actual one and raises the question did the Pigs win or lose against the Dragons by 2 points on Saturday? Going by the photographic evidence Bay Street won by 3 points but according to the referee they lost by 2 (43-41). With the Nomads also losing it brings the issue into direct focus, not to mention that a team that scores more than their opponents deserves to be awarded the points.

The other question that might be raised is how did a team that beat their opponents 76-8 in their first meeting conspire to ship 43 points and ‘lose’ a game they were well ahead by at halftime? There are several that might be proffered: the Dragons played very well in the second half and had some wonderfully balanced runners who took advantage of broken play. Also their spirit was admirable and they kept working for each other. On the Pigs side the curse of unavailability and injury which has blighted the club this season left the first team, again, threadbare and, dare one mention it, potentially not being as focused as they could have been. From a purely neutral point of view though it is good for the league to see teams beating each other.

Although the Pigs conceded the first try when a kick inside their 22 was charged down they soon settled into their rhythm with their forwards making the hard yards. From a Noah Harrison rumble Burton, playing at 9, broke and when he was tackled without the ball when chasing his own chip kick Bucky slotted the penalty. Bay Street pressed again immediately. Kimball directed the ball to Trevor Anderson at the front of the lineout and off Trevor went with a speed of foot and kick ahead that any winger would have been proud of. The clearing kick reached Nikita Lavreka on the opposite wing and he thundered through several Dragons before being held up. When the ball went wide Greg Hall was called for crossing with the tryline begging. Shortly afterwards a powerful run by Alex Koppel breached the Dragons defense and gave the Pigs a tremendous attacking platform but the normally unflappable Bucky knocked on. From the resulting scrum the Bay Street Scrum Masters ™ of Tait, Rouanet and Shippen won the ball against the head. If there is one person, as the opposition, you don’t want to have the ball when your defensive line is not set is Ryan Tomlinson. Playing at 10 Tomlinson’s vision saw the opportunity and he darted through to score under the posts with ne’er a hand within touching distance.

The Pigs solid platform was key to their next score. Kimball, imperious as always, took the lineout with Trevor peeling. Burton broke again and when Tomlinson was tackled the quick ruck ball went out to Mo in the centers. Mo and Greg Hall played some passing one-twos between them to create space and tie up the defenders. Bucky’s innate rugby brain had him in support and he was on hand to take the final pass from Mo to touch down in corner.

Try number three came from a double tackle from Mo and Godzilla in midfield with the latter turning it over. Micah Simmons made good ground down the wing and then when the ball was spun back the other way Harrison was like a wrecking ball through the middle. Anderson was next up and seeing where the space was Tomlinson changed his line of support running to take a pass from Trevor and glided over to notch up Bay Street’s third try and his second of the day.

Tomlinson’s running was a thorn in the Dragons side all day. From the restart he slashed his way through the first wave of defenders before giving a sumptuous angled pass to Peter Shippen coming at an angle. How good it is to see El Presidente back in the Pigs colors and on the field. Kimball and Anderson combined to put Lavreka in to score but the final pass was adjudged forward. The dominance in the scrum continued and the ball was won against the head again. Kimball broke and passed to Burton who scored untouched.

Bay Street was not done yet though. A scrum on the far left hand side of the pitch saw the ball go wide right through the backs with Koppel again gaining good ground. Mo fed Godzilla who was not for being stopped and when Bucky found Harrison the Pigs were deep in the Dragons 22. Bucky was the first receive from the ruck and his inside ball to Trevor saw him jog through to score under the posts and notch up the Pigs fifth try of the half and 36th point in all (1 penalty and 3 conversions).

Now according to the referees scorecard one of those tries didn’t happen. Which one we have no idea but all were relayed through reviewing the game day photos. Greg Hall was correctly called back for crossing with the tryline at his mercy and Nikita’s try scoring opportunity was correctly ruled out for a forward pass. So that leaves five bona fide tries not four.

The second half was a much looser affair which suited the Dragons more than it did the Pigs on the day and they took full advantage through their dangerous runners. The Dragons added several scores but when the Pigs needed their players step up they did and none more so than Tom Kimball whose work ethic, skill level and sheer will power week in and week out are truly inspiring. With their collective backs against the wall Mike Wade and Harrison won ball in the Dragons half. Out the ball went to Kimball who carried two defenders over the line with him to stop the rot and get the Pigs back in the game. He was not done though. A few minutes later Kimball turned the ball over in a tackle. Mo, who had a big game carrying the ball, made a half break to keep the momentum going before Tomlinson and Harrison made further ground. Jamie LeHuquet secured the ball at the ruck and the man who started the move was there to finish it. Kimball took the pass and went through the tiring arms of an opposing prop to score again.

 

According to the referee Bay Street were 2 points down and had an opportunity to win the game with a late penalty which, alas, went a foot wide from a difficult angle. The game ended with some of the Dragons falling to their knees in joyous disbelief after recording their first victory of the season and the Pigs leaving the pitch in disbelief of their own that they had apparently lost the game. How the correct number of tries were not recorded can only be explained by those whose job it is to do so but perhaps it can best be explained as a momentary lapse of reason. So who won? According to the referee the Dragons but going by the photographic records Bay Street. Does that falling tree make a sounds with no one there? The debate will go on.

A Jacks of all Trades and How fast does a Hummingbird Beat it Wings?

Here are some famous quotes, all with something in common: “I don't think we're in Kansas anymore, Toto” (Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz), “Elementary, my dear Watson” (Sherlock Holmes), “It's life, Jim, but not as we know it” (Dr. McCoy from the original Star Trek series), “Please, Sir, can I have some more?” (Oliver Twist), “All that glistens is not gold” (from Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice), “Let them eat cake” (Marie Antoinette) “Play it again, Sam” (Casablanca), “Do you feel lucky, Punk” (Dirty Harry), ”If you build it, they will come” (Field of Dreams) and “That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind” (Neil Armstrong). All have made it into modern Society’s lexicon to describe or comment on scenarios people observe and whilst there is some credence to the saying ‘a lie told often enough becomes the truth’ the fact is that all these quotes were either never said or are attributed to the incorrect person or they are not simply not what was actually said. But because we have head them ad nauseam we believe otherwise. Similarly we all heard the phrase a ‘jack of all trades and master of none’ whether in academia or sporting circles in an effort to concentrate on one area rather than being competent, or less perhaps, in several.

Chris Jacks made his Bay Street debut on Saturday and, being selected at blindside before moving to hooker for the second half after injury to Trevor Anderson forced him off, gave lie to the saying ‘jack of all trades and master of none’. Jacks was superb and for those not there to witness his performance imagine having the footballing skills of Tom Kimball in attack and the destructiveness of Tom Clancy in defense. Not a bad combination to have and an absolute nightmare for the opposition.

Playing on their home pitch the Yeomen were eager to reverse the 41-26 scoreline from the opening day of the season but were met by a determined Pigs side. For a second week in a row injuries and unavailability had stretched the clubs resources particularly up front but it also saw the welcome return of Dan Yungblut and an impressive display by Jon Pigozzo making his first team debut at prop having already played 40 minutes for the 2s.

Bay Street’s first try came from the quick thinking of Andy Tyler. From a Yeomen scrum Tyler cleverly flicked the ball back onto the Pigs side and then secured it on the ground. Noah Harrison charged forward with Ryan Tomlinson making further ground. Tomlinson flicked the ball back inside to Jacks and he powered through from the 22 to record both his and the Pigs first try.

The Pigs were well on top at this juncture and a break and chip-kick from Burton which the Yeomen brought over their line led to a 5 meter attacking scrum. Save Pravda on Saturday nights this is Kimball’s favorite spot and he did not disappoint. Picking from the base Tom’s pace took him outside the despairing clutches of the blindside flanker and into those of the unfortunate winger. Through him he went and not even the combined attention of the remaining Yeomen’s backrow could prevent the inevitable try.

The pressure did not let up. Steve Donelle fielded a relieving kick and found Spencer Morgan in support. In the tackle Morgan slipped a beautiful one handed pass to Stephane Nardin who countered. Jacks was in support and the pack, reminiscent of the hymn ‘Onward, Christian Soldiers’ mauled upfield. Kimball, still cast out by God, was loitering with intent and when the ball reached him made his intent known. Haring down the wing, scrumhalf hanging on dear life, Kimball’s inside ball found Jacks on his shoulder and three defenders were not going to stand in the way of his second try of the day. The Yeomen rallied though and replied with a try of their own.

Turnover ball from Anderson put the Pigs on the front foot shortly afterwards. A combination of strong running from Jacks and Pigozza with good hands from Youngblut saw Ryan Tomlinson make a break. Ian Davies was the first man there to secure the ball and out it went to Donelle on the wing. Having Kimball and Jacks tear down your wing is bad enough but Donelle is not exactly lacking in size or an appetite for destruction himself. Had the Terminator had a passionate affair with a Commodore 64 circa 1984 whilst hunting Sarah Conor the offspring would be Steve Donelle in terms of build and power. He is one scary individual on the pitch. Add pace to the equation and it was a long afternoon for the Yeomen wing and fullback. Neither could contain him and in he went for the Pigs third try in the same corner and their fourth overall. Just before the end of the half the Yeomen struck to record their second try.

The second half began sans the talismanic Anderson who succumbed to a knee injury picked up in the first half. We wish you a painfree and quick return Trevor. Jacks moved into the hooking berth with Maverick Wilson coming on at flanker. Bay Street’s next try was created in their own 22. From a lineout the ball went through the backs hands where Morgan was tackled. Davies, again, was first man there to secure the ball. Burton spun it wide but it went behind Pigozzo hitting the ground before being gathered into the arms of Jacks. Nick Cave’s ‘Into my arms’ is a beautiful love song but there the resemblance ended as a beauty of different kind, more feral and brutal, was displayed as Jacks tore through the Yeomen defense. Tomlinson and Spencer combined to put Davies in space and from the half way line he outpaced the Yeomen to score untouched in the corner. It was beautiful heads-up rugby. Shortly afterwards the Yeomen added a third try to their total.

The Pigs were unlucky not to add to their tally when Jacks had the ball knocked out of his hands as he was going over to score. It was a shame though. A big scrum saw Bay Street win one against the head. Burton skipped to Morgan and he released the rampaging Donelle to wreak further punishment. Davies, who else, secured the ruck and when Burton founds Jacks it seemed that a hat trick on his debut would be achieved. It was not to be though.

Depending on the species Hummingbirds can beat their wings at between 12 - 80 times per second. To the naked eye it seems they do not move and yet they are graceful and a wonder to watch. The same could be said of Ryan Tomlinson who, in an era when brawn trumps creativity for modern centers, is a reminder that skill, speed, awareness and being able to pass can triumph. Watching professional rugby it is staggering how few of these tasks modern centers can master particularly the latter. Simply put Tomlinson is a joy to watch and, superb player that he is in his own right, has the ability to bring surrounding players into the game at the right moment. In each game he has played for the Pigs his awareness of space and decision making in whether to break himself or put someone else into space is unerringly accurate. When he does spot a gap and go for it his footwork is sublime making defenders chase shadows and grasp at thin air.

Morgan won a penalty in his own half and taking a quick tap to himself made his way into the Yeomen’s 22 before being dragged into touch. Kimball stole the lineout with Pigozzo gathering and releasing Burton. Tomlinson received the ball and ghosted through two defenders where it didn’t seem a single sheet of paper could slip. Evading two more would-be tacklers he touched down to record the Pig’s sixth and final try and raise himself to the top of the tryscoring stakes. The Yeomen came back to record their fourth try but despite their best efforts to get edge closer they were repelled with Harrison, Youngblut and the evergreen Jess Landry being particularly prominent in defense. The game ended 26-36 with Bay Street recording their fifth victory in six league games.

 

All attention will be focused on the return game against the Nomads in Fletchers this Saturday. There is no doubt it will be a tough, uncompromising game but as Michael Jordan said “Limits, like fear, is often an illusion.” Personally I don’t believe this Pigs team has either. After Saturday more may well draw the same conclusion. Have at them fellow Pigs.

Transcendalism and Spreading the Love

The Transcendentalist essayist and poet Ralph Waldo Emerson once remarked that language is “a city to the building to which every human being brought a stone”. The way the first team is playing presently seems to encapsulate the essence of this in that every player is contributing to make the Pigs formidable opponents. Teams may play well against them for 40 minutes like Saracens did on Saturday but those stones quickly build and although at the end of Pink Floyds ‘The Wall’ there is a chorus of voices to “tear down the wall” this Pigs-built one is insurmountable at times.

The Pigs took the field less several regulars and a thin bench which led to some creative selections. Micah Simmons started in the 2nd row, Dave Burton played at scrumhalf whilst Micah and Mo both had to play minutes in the earlier seconds game. To a man though no one grumbled and every player stepped up to the mark which speaks volumes both for the esprit de corps within the club and the level of respect Burton, as captain, is held in.

Over the two league games this season one of Saracens most effective weapons has been their driving maul and they opened their account through it when their burly 8 man broke off from it on the Pigs 22 to sprint through and score under the posts. If Bay Street didn’t know there were in a game they knew it now. From the restart though some good driving through Godzilla and Dave Tait led to a penalty opportunity which Bucky, whose kicking was imperious throughout, slotted over.

A flyhack on a loose ball led to the Pigs taking the lead. Ian Davies collected it and charged forward ably supported by Kimball whose chip-kick was collected by Noah Harrison, a human wrecking ball with ball in hand. Tait was next up and slipped a gorgeous one handed pass to Burton who found the seemingly ageless Philippe on his shoulder. Were he being judged by Olympic standards Philippe’s dive would have rendered a 0.0 from all judges but at Fletchers it was worth a glorious 7 points with Bucky’s fabulous conversion. If the Pigs thought that this would dampen the oppositions spirits they were sorely mistaken as shortly afterwards their 8 man took advantage of a defensive lapse to score under the posts again.

There was a remarkable moment in the first half though which showed that Bay Street were not for the taking. On a Saracen put-in the Pigs eight obliterated their scrum and drove them up and back at a rate of knots. Watching it was like experiencing the powered, controlled and relentless force of a tsunami. It was over in an instant but the power and control of that instant was astounding to witness and from that moment on the Pigs were on top.

A beautiful lineout take from Kimball saw the Pigs launch a powerful attack. Ryan Tomlinson playing out of position at outhalf released Alain van Theil who broke several tackles before releasing his center partner Spencer Morgan to bring it up to Saracens 22. Bucky was next up with Harrison supporting and it was he who was hauled down two yards before the tryline. Whilst there are no atheists in foxholes it does not mean that God is listening and the one person Saracens did not want next in line was Greg Hall who duly arrived and was as unstoppable as his moniker, Godzilla, suggests. Try number two for the Pigs with Bucky converting.

Bucky was in rare form on Saturday and his lines of running were exquisite. One of his many incursions into the line saw him ghost through despairing tacklers and had Saracens fullback not tackled the supporting Burton before the ball reached him it could have been try number three. Bucky kicked the penalty to give the Pigs a 17-20 halftime lead.

The first 20 minutes of the second half were simply mesmerizing with the Pigs scoring four tries and killing the game as a contest. Saracens tried to rally but the speed of hand, pace of foot and swiftness of thought displayed devastated their attempts to get back into the game. Kimball, as he so often is, was the catalyst. From a ruck Davies, playing superbly at 7, released Tom who gained huge ground into Saracens 22. Kimball was not held in the tackle meaning he could get to his feet again and drive on which is exactly what he did. The arch poacher Mo was on hand to benefit and pirouetted through two would-be tacklers to score.

From the kick off the Pigs were on the attack again. Burton picked up from a scrum going blind and found Bucky with Stephane Nardin in support. A game of ‘pass the parcel’ took place as back and forth the ball went or didn’t go between the two as they bamboozled the defense making their way from their 10 meter line right up the try line. Faced with the last covering defence Bucky then threw a no-look behind the back pass which Ian Davies, running superbly in support, gratefully accepted to dot down.

Tomlinson, Bucky and Nardin spearheaded the Pigs next attack. Working the ball in close proximity between them they released Harrison who had Godzilla beside him and it was now their turn to play ‘pass the parcel’ down the touchline. Hall threaded a sublime pass between two defenders as he was being tackled back to Harrison and from the ruck Trevor Anderson was the beneficiary running a line between the fullback and winger to score.

The Pigs kept up the intensity and it wasn’t long before they struck again. Tomlinson pounced on a Saracens loose pass, the result of a shuddering tackle from Godzilla, and Spencer was first in to act as scrum half. Mo was the recipient and his telepathic pass to Bucky saw the great man run a line not bettered since Isambard Kingdom Brunel drew the one that led to the Great Western Railway. Without a hand laid on him Bucky was in to cap a fine display and add the Pigs penultimate try.

Saracens didn’t lie down and their pride saw them add two late second half tries to make it four in total. The Pigs were to have the last say though. Maverick Wilson turned the ball over in the Pigs 22 and out it went to Nardin who gallic running flair and outrageous looped pass to Bucky saw play quickly in Saracens 22. From the ruck Burton’s deft pass found Tomlinson who eased over to record the Pigs sixth try and the eighteenth different try scorer for the first team in five games. Talk about spreading the love.

 

The Pigs will need all their mental fortitude and resilience for this weeks game away to the Yeomen and no doubt players will be asked to play out of position again all for the greater Pig. There are several more stones to be added to this wall and it is not ready to be torn down just yet.

A Prince amongst Pigs and the Elton John Appreciation Society

The 1980s were a much simpler time. Greed was good, global what?, people actually talked to one another in bars instead of viewing it as a distraction from their real relationship with their mobile phone which, by the way, cost about US$ 4k and were the size of a brick and Elton John was married to a woman. In fact one of Sir Elton’s biggest hits of that decade was ‘Nikita’ which describes his crush on a beautiful female East German border guard whom he cannot meet because he is not allowed into the country. Unrequited love may well be romantic according to one of the themes in the play Cyrano de Bergerac but if Nikita Lavreka enjoyed playing against the Saracens then the love certainly was not reciprocated.

 

The return leg of this fixture saw the Pigs in Fletchers Field whilst the 3s, who would normally provide much of the backup for the 2s, were in Eglington Flats. This, combined with vacation season and the usual demands on players availability, saw both the 1s and 2s play with as lean a squads as they have fielded in quite a while which led to some interesting selection calls.

Round II was similar to the game one with the first half being a tight affair with little to separate the sides. Saracens took the lead with an unconverted try with Doug Henderson responding to level the scores. Doug is having a fantastic season so far for the 2s. The 2014 Henderson model is slimmer looking than previous seasons which is leading to increased mobility and longevity: traits no doubt appreciated by Doug’s phantom girlfriends.

One person Saracens must be sick of the sight of, whatever year or model, is Franklin Orlando who produced a storming second half. The Pigs were ensconced in Saracens 22 and playing at openside Frank took possession of a wayward Saracens lineout. Giving Frank the ball in space with the tryline is sight is akin to a masochist self flagellating. Each stride was like a whip flaying skin as defenders were brushed aside and run over on the way to Orlando scoring under the posts.

 

Saracens took the game to the Pigs once again but some great defensive work from Peter Weingarden turned the ball over at the scrum in the Pigs 22 before Orlando brought it to the 10 meter line. Alex Prince is having a simply brilliant season and his display on Saturday was another totemic display at 10. For an outhalf Prince must rank amongst the top ball carriers within the club let alone the 2s and, in football parlance, it was another 100+ rushing day for Prince. Taking the ball from the ruck set up by Orlando Prince ghosted between his opposite 10 and flanker, stepped the No. 8 before sprinting down the sideline only to be stopped just short of the line by Saracens lightning quick winger. One of the reasons for the dysfunctional Saracens lineout was the superb spoiling work carried out by Nasser Jamal jumping at 2. Coming from an NCAA and professional football background Jamal continues to impress and improve in what is only his 5th game of rugby. Already proficient in the tight when Nasser gains more confidence to get ball in hand in the loose he will be a very valuable player indeed. With the ensuing lineout going awry Weingarden stole it at the tail and rumbled forward. Orlando took the ball on and when held up just a few meters out the ball found Prince. As he started the break it was fitting he also finished it by running an angle outside the cover to score in the corner.

 

Saracens tried to run the ball from a scrum but a double tackle by Tom Mathews and Maverick Wilson put paid to that idea. Prince fielded the kick and his instinct to run rather than return it paid dividends. Stepping his man he found Nikita Lavreka on his inside shoulder. One of the lyrics in ‘Nikita’ is “I’ll never feel how good it feels to hold you” and perhaps that could sum up Saracen’s defense with respect to Lavreka’s second half. The man is a beast with ball in hand and one wouldn’t recommend running in his vicinity with ball in hand either. Powerful running and some good stepping saw Nikita smash through the cover and score his third try of the day (having scored 2 for the 3s earlier). It is strange what a child remembers. As one visiting my grandmother I read a plaque, with no comprehension of its meaning, that someone had given her describing the various ages of womanhood. It said between 15 – 20 she is like Africa, half wild and half discovered. Between 50 – 55 she is like Siberia, everyone knows where it is but no one wants to go. Well Nikita on a rugby pitch is a combination of both: Africa with ball in hand and Siberia for any opponent who likes the idea of self preservation.

 

From the restart the Pigs were on the offense again with Henderson taking the ball forward with Russell Browne in support. Frank Orlando took the ball on again and from the ruck Orlando Senior, Mike, proved to be as difficult to topple as Junior. Kieran Hannifin and Browne were first there to secure the ball leaving Chris Berrigan as kingmaker. Drawing a tackler Berrigan slipped a beautiful pass to Lavreka who found himself two meters out with two defenders in his way. “I’ll never feel how good it feels to hold you” may as well have been belted out across the tannoy system as Nikita steamrolled his way through and over the defenders to record his second and the Pigs fifth and final try of the day. Liam Boyle ran the restart out to close the game with the 2s victorious 12-31 and a record of 4 wins from 5 games.

 

 

Bay Street face the Yeomen this week in what will undoubtedly be another tough game. After 80 minutes what chance another Elton John megahit, “I’m still standing” will be belting out?

The French Connection and He Ain't Heavy He's My Brother

There are some films that leave a mark long after their viewing and will always remain in favorite lists for various reasons. The French Connection is lauded for containing one of the greatest car chase sequences in movie history which was part of the reason it picked up 5 Academy Awards. The Pigs have their own version which may live as long in opponents minds with Alain van Theil and Stephane Nardin forming their own French Connection which is proving as tough an assignment for teams to crack as Popeye Doyle’s efforts were. The midfield partnership of van Theil and Nardin consistently tormented the Saracens with their lines of running and ability to beat their men.

Bay Street fielding an experienced and strong side took the game to Saracens who had no shortage of big men themselves. Some last minute adjustments saw Liam Boyle and Prince paired at halfback which proved a masterstroke. Both can read a game and have footballing nous in spades and so they proved it by controlling the game. Although the Pigs had a lot of first half possession they only scored once and that was through the flying Jordan Partridge upon his return from injury. Given any sort of room Partridge is a devastating runner and when there is an equation consisting of ball, Jordan, space, defender and tryline there is only one outcome. As sure as day follows night so a try resulted and the Pigs took a deserved 7-0 halftime lead.


“He Ain't Heavy He's My Brother” is a song that has been recorded by artists from The Hollies to The Osmonds to Neil Diamond and featured in films as culturally diverse and received as Rambo III to Zoolander. Its origin, according to the 1884 book The Parables of Jesus tells the story of a little girl carrying a big baby boy. Seeing her struggling, someone asked if she wasn't tired. With surprise she replied, "No, he's not heavy; he's my brother.” Whilst it is unknown whether Michael and Franklin Orlando have required a female to physically carry them off one suspects the Saracens wish it were so as they both reigned havoc again and again with their determined runs. Think of a bowling lane with 10 pins lined up. Now picture a 16llb bowling ball being hurtled towards said pins at breakneck speed by someone with the power of, say, Conan the Barbarian. The aftermath is one of obliteration: pins flailed everywhere, bells ringing, lights flashing and an almighty din as the ball crashes into the barrier at the back ready to be used again when called upon. Well that gives some indication of the impact the Orlando’s had.

Micah Simmons won a lineout on halfway where the ball was whipped out to Prince at 10. Having the luxury of The French Connection outside him or one Mike Orlando coming at speed from his wing Prince chose the latter and what an inspired decision it was. Smashing through the covering wing forward Mike made his way deep into the 22 where a despairing and brave tackle from the fullback brought him down. Quick ruck ball gave Prince time to evaluate his options and he decided to ghost through both centers and score under the posts.

Having been unshackled Mike wanted more and as the saying goes ‘all good things to those who wait’. Micah and Boyack turned ball over and Nardin took the ball on an arc ghosting outside his man to find Mike on his shoulder. Running an angle that took him away from the cover and straight through the outhalf Orlando found himself with a clear route to the tryline which he didn’t waste. Try number three and the second in quick succession.

There is always a little sibling rivalry in most families and Frank, not wishing to be overshadowed, decided to join in. Saracens long relieving kick found an itching Koppel deep in his 22. Running the ball back to his 10 meter line, from the ensuing ruck the ball reached Frank as first receiver. The outhalf was swatted aside followed by the flanker and fullback in a run that took the Pigs deep into the Saracens 22. Under pressure the Saracens conceded a 5 yard scrum. Tom Mathews broke and fed Nardin running a straight line. Tackled just short The French Connection combined again with van Theil taking the pop pass and crashing over to score.

Saracens were on the attack again but if Frank and Mike’s previous runs were good then the next one was sublime. Ripping the ball on his own 5 yard line and facing his own tryline Frank decided the best form of defense was a good offense. First the prop was rounded, then the scrum half, then the flanker, then fullback before being finally hauled down just before the Saracens tryline. What made this all the more remarkable was that Frank, playing in the second row, was able to outpace the entire Saracens team bar the covering winger who must take enormous credit for getting back. It looked certain that the Pigs would score again but alas the ball was knocked on in the process of touching down by van Theil.

The respite did not last for long though. From the defending scrum Koppel ran the relieving kick back again and from the ruck the ball once found Frank who bullocked his way closer to the line. With Boyack and Jamie LeHuquet in support the ball found Koppel and it was fitting that the man who started the move should finish it by beating three defenders to register the Pigs 5th try.

There was still time left on the clock and when there is time there is always the chance to score. Doug Henderson took the restart and set up the ruck from where the ball reached Nardin. Determined to show that Gallic flair is at least equal to Canadian Bacon Stephane was like a rapier cutting through the defense. Prince, Brad Hord, Sam Furphy and van Theil all handled thereafter. When the latter was tackled Chris Berrigan drove straight and it no surprise that Frank was on his shoulder in support. Equally as sick of the sight as being physically drained from forlornly attempting to tackle him Frank rumbled over to score a well deserved and the games final try in a 38-0 victory.

 

 

The Pigs play Saracens again on July 5th and although critics always argue that sequels and cover versions are not as good as the originals they have not seen this version of The French Connection or heard The Orlando’s duet. This next one could see all preconceived ideas ripped up.

Anniversaries, Adolescents and The Rapture

Anniversaries are peculiar events whether they be for weddings, events or clubs. Regardless of the, real or imagined enthusiasm displayed, one party will always place more emphasis on it than the other. For some it can be a joyous occasion to put on their best clobber, organize a big day out whilst fondly reminiscing about bygone years. For others it is a chore to be endured: to turn up to, smile nicely and try not to ruin things. It’s all well and good when one side is naturally submissive and does what it’s told but when it’s the Pigs and there are league points at stake then the old adage of the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.

So it proved when the Pigs defeated Saracens 30-17 on the day they were celebrating their 60th anniversary which is a tremendous achievement and one deserving enormous credit to their players and officials. Bedecked in new kit to mark the occasion the Saracens kicked off with a healthy mixture of youth and experience and really took the game to the Pigs. This was a fantastic game to watch with leads being extended before being clawed back to changing hands and back again in addition to some some eye-catching performances on both teams.

After weathering some early pressure the Pigs found their rhythm and began applying some of their own. From a lineout the imperious Kimball rose, akin to how a right-wing Christian must believe they will ascend into heaven when the Rapture happens, to claim the ball before feeding Hot-Josh Weaver on the peel. With Philippe in close support the Pigs were beginning to drive deep into the Saracens defense. Andy Tyler made a half break which was all Greg Hall needed to get involved. From the ensuing ruck Trevor Anderson took a pop pass from The Mountain in midfield before fixing both centers and releasing Danner’s partner Ryan Tomlinson who danced his way over to open the scoring. Saracens were not fazed at going behind though and played some lovely rugby particularly in broken play. One such midfield play saw their flanker release their winger on the halfway line whose sheer power and pace saw him level the score. Noah Harrison who is having a big debut season scored the Pigs second try running a beautiful supporting line following several forward drives.

Saracens, with the day that was in it, really had their dander up and took the lead with another converted try at the start of the second half. The Pigs were like adolescents at their first party after puberty had kicked in: too eager to impress, fumbling the ball under no pressure and making poor decisions. At one point it looked as though it may not be their day following a half break by The Mountain which Tomlinson looked to have scored from. To watch Tomlinson with ball in hand is like being at the ballet in that he moves with such grace, elegance, beauty and softness. He is a defenders nightmare as Saracens can attest to having sidestepped their hooker before pirouetting between two defenders before touching down but alas the referee waved play on. Added to this Spencer Morgan had to leave the field and Spencer, being one of the bravest players in the club, doesn’t leave the field for any little niggle. This was the Pigs staring down the barrel.

But for every despairing fumbling adolescent there is an older brother who knows what to do and how to lead and the Pigs were magnificently served by their front row of Tait, Anderson and Rouanet who demolished their opponents in the scrum. In fact they were the cause of the turning point in the game. A converted score down the Pigs had to defend a scrum on their 5 yard line. Concede again and the hill to overcome wold have suddenly become a mountain. The power that come through in that scrum allowed the Pigs to drive Saracens off the ball and clear their lines with Tait’s prop off his feet and swinging in the air. It was simply inspirational and everyone fed off it.

From that point the Pigs upped the ante. Saracens suddenly found themselves on the back foot. Dave Burton is one of the smartest rugby players in the game both in terms of game management and decision making. Burton realized the next score was crucial and also knew that it had to be by the Pigs. Having gained ground in the Saracens half Mo made his customary weaving, breaking run upfield. Burton sat in the pocket and when the ball came back to him on an plate from Andy T Burton dropped a beautiful goal to narrow the deficit.

The Pigs were not done. Shortly Andy T made a fantastic tackle in Saracens 22 with Trevor straight in to steal the ball. The Pigs went right and players of the quality of Tomlinson and Bucky involved there was no worry that this would be butchered and thus it was textbook play: Tomlinson drew his man and fed Bucky who ran a straight line until hauled down just before the line. God obviously deciding Kimball was more Satan from Milton’s Paradise Lost than Rapture material left him on the pitch and a good thing it was too when he was on hand to pick up and score.

A big tackle from Ian Davies shortly afterwards resulted in Tomlinson turning the ball over. Quick ball to Burton found Bucky whose line was exquisite and cut open the Saracens defence. His pass found Steve Donelle whose gargantuan biceps cradled the ball like a newborn baby to its mothers breast and from there Donelle brushed aside the attentions of the covering defender to score.

Saracens found themselves 8 points down with time running out and were running from everywhere. Inside their 22 The Mountain scythed down his opponent. The scrum half had a prop as protection when readying to pass but when one is used to destroying cities a prop is as useful a deterrent as the Rhythm Method is to a Catholic during intercourse and thus Godzilla came pouring through to take prop, scrum half and ball. Tyler was straight onto the loose ball and whipped it wide where it found the balletic Tomlinson who danced through the despairing defence to score in the corner and end the game.

 

 

And so Saracens did not have the anniversary they wanted but they do have a very good team in the making which is capable of providing many glorious days ahead. The Pigs though are in no mood to be elbowed out of the way and with the players they have and their hard nosed attitude it could be a while yet before they face that day. Bet on The Rapture first folks.

Norwegian sports commentary and Telepathy

Bjorge Lillelien was a Norwegian sports commentator who entered popular culture following his country’s 1981 2-1 defeat of England in a World Cup qualifier. Upon the shrill of the final whistle Lillelien lost himself in the moment and uttered one of the most memorable summations in history. At the risk of offending Hot Josh Lillilien excitedly bellowed "We have beaten England! England, birthplace of giants. Lord Nelson, Lord Beaverbrook, Sir Winston Churchill, Sir Anthony Eden, Clement Attlee, Henry Cooper, Lady Diana--we have beaten them all. We have beaten them all. Maggie Thatcher can you hear me? Maggie Thatcher, I have a message for you in the middle of the election campaign. I have a message for you: We have knocked England out of the football World Cup. Maggie Thatcher, as they say in your language in the boxing bars around Madison Square Garden in New York: Your boys took a hell of a beating! Your boys took a hell of a beating!"

Whilst one should always strive to be as magnanimous in defeat and as gracious in victory the sentiment of Lillilien’s words could be applied following the final whistle on Saturday when the 1s inflicted a 76-8 defeat of the Dragons. One could bluff and try to put a spin on how the Dragons tried to stay competitive and keep fighting to the end but that would be disingenuous to the Pigs display and patronizing to their opponents. The Dragons are a proud team but on Saturday they were simply no match for the Pigs who were superior in every facet of play, in every technical aspect and every position. This was a ruthlessly efficient and effective 80 minutes which did not stutter even when losing marquee players like Alistair Clark and Tom Clancy at the half. To lose players of their calibre and not be fazed speaks volumes for the growing depth of the roster.

It would take too long to describe all 13 tries scored and the good play behind them suffice to day that Trevor Anderson, Kimball, Burton, Andy T, Spencer, Ryan Tomlinson and Bucky tore through the Dragons at will. For the record Tom Clancy opened the scoring and similar to the preceding two games it was almost straight from the kick-off. Clancy at the end of 80 minutes is a formidable opponent but in minute 1 is almost unstoppable and so he proved when taking a pop pass and running through to score under the posts. From the restart the Dragons won the ball but it was almost immediately turned over. The Pigs back line is peppered with outstanding rugby players and broken play runners. Burton as always was quick to spot an opportunity and flashed the ball to Morgan and from there it found Tomlinson who shredded the Dragons with his devastating running. Bucky, as always so majestic on the pitch, was on hand to take the pass back inside and fed Burton to saunter through untouched to score again.

This was the story of the half and game. The Dragons would kick off or gain possession, then the Pigs would turn it over and go through their phases either from play or set-piece and score. Bar scoring a penalty in the first half and a try late on the Dragons rarely escaped their half and the Pigs were in no mood to let them. There is a beautiful understanding developing between Tomlinson at 13 and Bucky at 15; both are natural footballers and perhaps due to this they seem to instinctively know where the other will be and run complimentary lines of support. Add the footballing intelligence of Andy Tyler and Burton at half back who both read the game so well and it is a potent combination. The other backs are not there to fill up the numbers either. Spencer Morgan is always dangerous with ball in hand, has wonderful feet, distributes well and in several seasons of watching the Pigs this hack cannot recall him missing a single tackle. The legendary French winger Patrice Lagisquet honed his elusive running by running through a forest at speed and side stepping the branches. The Pigs own French winger Stephane Nardin would appear to have been cut from the same cloth given the way he took his two tries. Alex Koppel on the other wing was not to be left behind. If Nardin is the artist then The Kraken is the artisan. If no space is available when the Kraken is released then Koppel is perfectly fine with employing the ’Samoan side-step’ in getting past his man. The Dragons had struggled to contain Koppel all game but brave as they were it cold not go on and during the second half Koppel simply ran through his opponent before going on to score.

But for all the flair and grace displayed there is the appreciation that noting happens without hard graft and work. Another striking aspect of the Pigs play was their execution of doing the simple things well and doing them consistently well. Rugby is not about the big flash hits and trying to do too much with the ball. It is about recognizing what your role is in a particular situation whether it be tackling, running, passing or making a sacrifice for the greater good. This is a nuance that js understood by the Pigs and from an observers viewpoint can be lacking in other teams. The evidence? Just look at the workload that Ian Davies gets through every game. Although Davies got on the scoresheet he also hit every ruck, made every tackle that came his way and got on with all the tough, physical work without complaint that allows others to shine. Davies is not alone. Dave Tait is having a remarkable season and his play is like a man 10 years his junior. Tait was always a monster in the tight but his added mobility is adding an extra dimension. Ditto Philippe who is sharper and fitter than before whilst still keeping that hard edge that makes him a formidable player. Noah Harrison is new to the club but has bought into the work ethic and is making himself an invaluable pack member. Harrison also got on the scoresheet running a support line off Kimball. Trevor Anderson is having a brilliant season and looks at home as much in the backs in broken play as he does in the tight whether hooking or at lineouts. The introduction of Nasser Jamal at the half playing in his third game of the day didn’t weaken the team. In fact Jamal make some eye catching plays and slotted in seamlessly. To play in three games, one’s first three games of rugby, and not look out of one’s depth is quite an achievement.

And what can one say about Tom Kimball? Philippe said it best at the awards dinner noting that if he were to go to war he would want Tom by his side and that is what Kimball does week in week out. Tom will consistently be one of the leading ball carriers and try scorers but he gets through mounatins of gritty work too and has the respect of every player that sets foot on the pitch with him and against him. Kimball (and Burton) set the example for others to follow and it is one of honesty, application, skill and mental toughness.

 

The Pigs face the Saracens this weekend in what will be two tough fixtures. They will not let these results go to their heads: rather they will do the hard yards, be fearless, read the situation in front of them and invariably chose the right options. Our friend Bjorge Lillelien may have made an indelible mark in the sporting and cultural world and England may well have taken one hell of a beating on a gloomy Oslo night but that is not a phrase that will ever be said about this Pigs team with the team and character they display.

The Charge of the Light Brigade and How do you solve a problem like Godzilla?

'How do you solve a problem like Maria’ was a 2006 British television reality show whose premise was to hold live auditions to cast the part of Maria von Trapp in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s upcoming stage production of The Sound of Music. One feels there may be a summit convened in the Metro Convention Centre by the other TRU teams sooner rather than later entitled ‘How do you solve a problem like Godzilla?’ for yet again Greg Hall was simply magnificent on Saturday in the Pigs 31-19 defeat of the Dragons.

Like the passing of the olympic torch Bay Street 2s continued on from where the 3s left off and like their brethren the Pigs were in no mood let their opponents settle by setting a high tempo from the off. Early pressure saw Jon Goode claiming a lineout from a pinpoint Chris Boyack throw on the Dragons 22 with the pack driving the ball impressively on. Liam Boyle playing at 9 may be the political antithesis of everything Goode stands for but Jon’s 'separated at birth’ doppelgänger marshalled the pack’s drive before taking the ball and darting to open the scoring.

The pack to a man fronted up absorbing everything the Dragons could throw at them. Goode’s backrow colleagues, Boyack and Greg Hall were everywhere with Godzilla stupendous. A fumble by the Dragons in midfield saw Nikita Lavrenka gather the ball and make ground upfield. Tom Mathews at outhalf whisked the ball to Hall and then it was a case of sit back, break out the popcorn, throw on those 3D glasses and gleefully watch the carnage unfold. Taking the ball on his own 22 Godzilla swatted five defenders away like irritating flies whilst powering towards the Dragons goal line. With the fullback desperately hanging on Hall found Sam Furphy in excellent support who took the pass to extend the Pigs lead.

The pack were playing really well with the mobile front row of Chris Berrigan, Jason LeMar and Charles Blott getting through a huge workload. With the backrow on top and Bilal Husain and Mark Byers (on for Lavrenka) getting round in support the Dragons were continually thwarted. A double tackle in by Goode and Godzilla saw the former rip the ball and go on his own version of the ‘Charge of the Light Brigade’ albeit with a different ending to the one led by Lord Cardigan. Instead of finding artillery fire Goode found Godzilla who beat the one defender this time to touch down behind the posts.

The second half saw the Pigs continue from where they left off. Pressure from Berrigan saw LeMar turn the ball over again and Chase Robinson was the beneficiary breaking through some ragged defence. Mathews, alert as ever, went blind and found Godzilla on his shoulder. More defenders beaten and the ball went through Jeff Bennet’s and Robinsons hands to find Furphy again in support who looked to have scored but was harshly adjudged to have stepped out of bounds. No matter though as the Pigs bombarded the Dragons with wave upon wave of pressure. Backs and forwards were combining beautifully to stretch their opponents. The forwards were running hard and forcing increasingly tired bodies to make tackles whilst the backs were attacking space and offloading to supporting colleagues. After working the ball from side to side Mathews pass to Prince saw him take the ball up to the Dragons line. Goode and Byers were first in support to clear out the ruck and Husain was next in to pick up and score.

Like their colleagues before them the Dragons never gave up and were competitive throughout. When they did have the ball they were dangerous with it. It is a credit to the Pigs pack that they starved them of good ball for much of the contest. Presented with opportunities close to line the Dragons took them but although they did register three tries on the day the Pigs always had that bit extra. An example in the second half was when the Dragons put some good linkage play between backs and forwards together that saw them get a foothold in Bay Street’s 22 from which they scored. The Pigs had two options: let the Dragons gain confidence and invite them to score again or lay down a marker immediately. They chose the latter. From the kickoff the pack won possession and drove deep into the Dragons 22. Boyle, who had a great game at 9, fed his halfback partner Mathews who found Boyack at his side. With his head down and orange scrumcap lighting the way for the rest of his body to follow Boyack ploughed through two defenders to crash over and add the Pigs fifth try.

The coup de grace came from Prince though and it came direct from the kickoff. Perhaps taking his lead from Godzilla’s earlier barnstorming run Prince collected the ball before running towards the far touchline outpacing several defenders on his way. Confronted by the last two defenders Prince swerved then straightened before rounding the last Dragon to leave himself a free run from 30 meters out to score the Pigs sixth and final try.

 

There’s a scene in the film Se7en where the two detectives ask a doctor when they can question the emaciated and barely living suspect they found in an apartment to which the doctor explains that the man in question had suffered as much pain and suffering as anyone he had ever encountered and he still had hell to look forward to. Well the Dragons, for all their admirable fighting and defensive qualities, had just taken a beating from a good Pigs side and had yet to face Bay Street's first team. As for the question of How do you solve a problem like Godzilla? Who knows but if a solution is found then the Metro Convention Centre may sell out pretty quickly.

Omne Trium Perfectum and Rolling Back the Years

Omne trium perfectum. Those who have studied Latin will know that this translates to everything that comes in threes is perfect or complete. In early Christian art it was represented in the form of a triptych, in Catholicism by the Holy Trinity of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit, in music by The Three Degrees, in cinema by The Three Stooges and in literature by The Three Musketeers. Even in Pigs folklore, up until Saturday, it could be argued it was represented by its All African backrow of Messrs Hall, Simmons and Goode.

Following Saturday this phrase could be used in one of two scenarios. The club fielded three distinct teams against the Dragons with all three recording victories with one of its new recruits, Nasser Jamal, playing in all three games. Not only did Nasser play, and play very well, for the 3s, 2s and 1s but his achievement is all the more remarkable when one considerers these were the first three rugby games Nasser ever played. That Nasser looked as out of place as Tait and Shippy at Pravda says it all. A burgeoning rugby career beckons.

The 3s were first up kicking off at 12:30. Third teams are generally a hodge podge of younger guys learning the game and older guys who should know better and listen to father time. However rugby has a tractor beam the Death Star would be proud of and it is quite a wrench to leave it completely which explains why so many keep lacing up their boots in a bid to relive those grand old days of yore. The pioneer of the 3s is Noel Chambers who must take a lot of the credit for their success. Throughout the off-season Noel was actively reaching out to players and clubs to organize fixtures and had arranged for the 3s to meet early to go through a game plan.

That game plan worked out a treat as the Pigs tore into the Dragons from the start. The pack didn’t allow their counterparts to settle and disrupted every facet of play. Chief protagonists were the backrow of Arthur Sinclair, Clinton P. Wayne and Mark Byers. Watching Clinton pickup from a scrum and take off is quite a sight to behold. It could be argued it is the rugby equivalent of the aphorism ‘there are no atheists in foxholes’ which is used to argue that in times of extreme stress or fear, such as in war, all people believe in a higher power. Well I don’t know if the Dragons believed in a deity beforehand but one suspects they were questioning what they had done in this or a former life to have this Ohio State Buckeye rampaging through their channel all game long. Clinton’s tally for the game was two tries, incalculable meters made and a hoard of bruised bodies.

Chambers rolled back the years at outhalf and gave a master class in controlling a game. When a gap appeared he broke, when he was marked he passed back inside to either Byers or Wayne to take the ball up and when the opportunity arose he released his backs. With Tom Mathews at 9 the Pigs had a half back pairing to cause their opponents plenty of problems. And they did. Both wings Justin Yeun and Jeff Bennett saw plenty of the ball and took their opportunities to score. Yeun’s try came from a Wayne break upfield. When the ball was spun wide Justin rounded his man and showed tremendous footwork to evade both the sideline and covering defenders to touch down in the corner. The conversion was missed but when Wayne touched down shortly afterwards after carrying half the Dragons team over the line with him the Pigs established a fine 12-0 lead. Arthur Sinclair claimed the restarts and when Mark Byers sold an outrageous kick dummy in his 22 before making 50 meters upfield the Dragons were on the backfoot again. With their defense scrambling the ball was moved wide for Jeff Bennet, another making his Pigs debut, to score in the other corner. 17-0 up and all looked good. Too good in fact as the Dragons clawed a score back just on the stroke of half time.

Having lost Graham Brown to injury Nikita Lavrenka entered the fray in the second half. For Nikita’s performance think of Nikita as Ivan Drago in Rocky IV as he informs Apollo Creed, in this case the Dragons, before their fight that he “must break you” and duly did. Nikita simply smashed anyone in the tackle who came into his channel and dared anyone to tackle him with the ball.

From the restart the Pigs maintained their pressure. The Dragons thought they had put in a relieving kick but it was a similar ending to the boy who thought he had got up during the night to use the bathroom. Playing superbly at fullback Kieran Hannafin caught the ball at full stride and went on a beautiful arching run which took him outside the Dragons defense before releasing Yeun who drew his man and released his statuesque teammate to fall over and score.

The Dragons to their credit never gave up and scored a further two tries through their dangerous backs to reduce the score. However the Pigs were not in a mood to capitulate and several players came to the fore. The front row of Kens Ting and Dubien and Pummell turned over several balls from lineouts and mauls whilst Jamal had the natural instinct and athleticism to steal almost every Dragons lineout in the second half. Sinclair was not far behind and was a nuisance throughout. Dave Burton, on for Matthews at 9 to allow Tom start for the 2s, was at his marauding best spotting and exploiting gaps. Burton didn’t even need the ball in hand to be a danger when he dribbled around several defenders with the ball at his feet in a show of skill that would not be at out of place at the World Cup. With the Pigs in the ascendency a crash ball was called off the top of a lineout from outside the 22 with Chambers feeding Lavrenka. After being beaten up by Lavrenka so mercilessly in the tackle the Dragons were not inclined to see how it would feel actually trying to stop him and so Nikita sailed through to score under the post without a single hand being laid on him. That was the final score and the game ended 34-20.

 

Congratulations to Noel and his team on a well deserved victory. One game down and one victory for the Pigs and Jamal. Step one in place for both to achieve omne trium perfectum.

Hair envy and The Boys of Summer

It is said that absence makes the heart grow fonder or as George Costanza so succinctly put it when discovering that Elaine’s boyfriend shaved his full head of hair for his swim team “that’s like using a wheelchair for the fun of it”. ..More

The Problem with Silver and Rampaging non-CGI Monsters

Jerry Seinfeld once described winning a silver medal as thus: “Congratulations, you almost won. Of all the losers you came in first of that group. You're the number one loser. No one lost ahead of you!” Dave Manii, one suspects, doesn’t have a collection of silver medals. The evidence? Last season Manii scored the first try for the third team in their inaugural season. First player on the pitch on Saturday for the 2s, first captain in the first league game and first tryscorer of the Pigs season. Or perhaps Manii lives by the creed laid down to Ricky Bobby by his father, Reece, when he said “if you ain’t first you’re last”. However it was acquired if every artist was first an amateur than Manii has graduated to paint a masterpiece with each game.

The Pigs opened their 2014 account against the Yeomens 2nd team with a hard fought 24-21 victory. After coasting into a 17-0 lead the loss of several leaders combined with allowing the Yeomen back into the game led to some nerve jangling moments before a stout defense finally won out. The game opened with Bay Street full of running in an attempt to break the Yeomens defensive cover. Strong direct running from Alain van Theil and Stephane Nardin in the center was complimented by Alex Koppel’s and Mike Orlando’s on the wing. From a scrum on the left the ball went through the threequarter line to Koppel who gained ground and from the resultant ruck Chris Boyack and then van Theil made some hard yards before Jon Goode carried on the fine work whilst delivering his patented elbow chop to all would be tacklers. The ball was whipped back the other way to Manii who rounded his marker to score the first try of the season.

Wave after wave of pressure was bearing down on the Yeomen but their impressive defense held firm. Goode’s hair (to continue the theme from the firsts game recap) was only slightly more magnificent than his general play had a huge game at 8 and was at his belligerent best making ground from scrums and acting as a support runner. A beautiful lineout take from Jamie Le Huquet on halfway set up another fine attack through the threequarters. From the ensuing pack-driven maul the referee awarded a penalty to Bay Street five meters out. Step forward one Franklin Orlando. For any opponents out there that might come across this badly written prose there a number of things to bear in mind that might slow down or stop Mike’s baby brother: a cold Hogtown might do the trick or a discreet whisper that a beautiful young lady was enquiring about his eligibility. What will definitely not stop Frank is any number of players when he has the scent of a try in his nostrils and so it proved as all who stood before him suddenly found themselves standing behind him as Frank dotted down. A Koppel conversion made it 12-0.

Bay Street added to their total shortly afterwards courtesy of their backrow of Prince, Goode and Stephen Donelle, on for the injured Sam Furphy. Boyack’s perfect lineout saw Donelle take a peel from a lineout and simply hammer into the opposition. With Goode in support the ball was flashed to Prince who scored in the corner. 17-0 up and what could go wrong? What indeed…

The phrase ‘never give a sucker an even break’ is oft quoted but seldom adhered to. The Yeomen scored twice in quick succession to bring themselves back into it but there was more than enough skill and experience on the Pigs team to have handled it. Several Pigs went off injured but their replacements are good players. Simply put the intensity level dropped and once it does it is difficult to lift it again. It was now time for the Pigs to defend which they did for most of the second half and to their credit the defense mostly held. Greg Hall entered the fray and made his Godzilla-like presence felt with thundering tackles and one run in particular that only a madman would get in the way of lifted the siege. Cometh the moment cometh the madman who decided the best way to save his people was to throw his body like a ragdoll in front of a rampaging Godzilla. Whilst his teammates appreciated his selfless efforts the referee most certainly did not and dispatched him for 10 minutes to think on his sins. Donelle, making his debut, was bequeathed biceps that make climbing Everest seem a lazy Sunday afternoon jaunt and was an able Godzuki to Hall’s Godzilla. With Peter Weingarden barking orders, until he too had to leave the field, Bay Street were fighting for every hard yard and tackle made.

The Pigs extended their lead through some quick thinking by Prince following the award of a penalty. With Orlando off the pitch possibly the only person worse the Yeomen could have faced was Hall and whilst the film has received mixed reviews in some quarter this non-CGI incarnation of Godzilla gets a universal thumbs up. Receiving a quick tap ball from Prince Godzilla trounced to the tryline with brave but foolish souls hanging on more for dear life than trying to tackle him. Koppel converted to give Bay Street a 10 point lead.

The Yeomen never gave up and scored their third and final try (converting all three) to pull within three points. The referee stated that the kick off would be the last play of the game so it was vital the pack secured possession which they did. Brad Hord got the tireless van Theil to take one more crash ball to run down the clock resulting in the Yeomen giving away a penalty in their desperation to retrieve the ball. Prince prodded the ball into touch and victory was secured.

 

A tough game awaits on Saturday against the Nomads and the choice is simple. Play like the first half and we have more than a fighting chance of making it two wins from two. Play like the second and Dave Manii will be leading the number one losers. Two from two sounds much better gents.

Planes, Trains and Automobiles

Robert Goddard, one of the forefathers of the American rocket program, once said “when old dreams die, new ones come to take their place. God pity a one-dream man.”

And so with dreams aplenty, both collective and individual, Bay Street rugby club embarked on another season with two preseason games in Hamilton before the season begins anew in May against Belleville. The games were almost over before they even began when the bus ordered to deliver this precious cargo failed to arrive. With decisive action that his military father would be proud of Club Captain Jon Goode decreed “to Union Station” and Pied Piper-like led his Pigs where Dave Tait, whose stag it doubled at, found himself in an unusual position of throwing down 20’s for…..train tickets.

Played on a pitch exposed to a biting wind that showed the effects of winter and was like running on treacle the second team got proceedings underway. With new combinations in all areas the Pigs attacked with gusto. Liam Boyle probed at 10 with the hard running Mike Orlando making his presence felt. Hamilton may have been somewhat limited attacking wise but their defensive effort was superb from 1 to 15 and, particularly in the backs, stifled everything thrown at them. The Pigs pack was impressive with some new and old faces making their mark. Goode and Alex Prince packing at 7 were at their destructive best. Chris Berrigan returning to Pigs colours made a big impression whilst the leaner but still mean Philippe Rouanet was explosive in the tight and loose. Philippe was unlucky to have a try ruled out when smashing through three tackles from a ruck close to line but knocking on just as he was putting the ball down.

A strong run from Alex Koppel set up a ruck which Lawson Curtis, making his bow at scrum half, kicked for Chase Robinson to, well, chase. Outstripping his man Robinson looked odds on to score but a superb double tackle prevented him from placing the ball down over the line. The pressure did pay though when from a line out Greg Hall took a lineout from the excellent Chris Boyack and smashed through two tackles to open the Pigs account. Having put his injury problems behind him Greg, aka Godzilla, had a beast of a game (for both the first and second team) with and without the ball treating the Hamilton players with the sort of distain that Godzilla used to treat Japan in those 1950’s and 60’s B movies. Only more wanton destruction will sate our appetites Greg.

Half time saw the Pigs make a raft of changes and with players like Mark Byers, Jason LeMar, Ken Ting, Brad Hord, Ken Dubien, Clinton Wayne, Jesse Sargent and Russell Browne all coming into the fray it shows the strength in depth that the club is developing and needs. Defending their line against a very strong wind the Pigs found themselves in their own 22 for much of the half. Two second half tries, the latter in the last couple of minutes saw the seconds go down 10-5 but their were so many positives to take from it in terms of new players and returning ones nobody will be disappointed with the result. indeed it will most likely lead to a few headaches for the selection committee in coming weeks.

The first team hit the field and picked up where they left on when retaining last season's Fall Cup. Simply put Hamilton were not allowed any time on the ball whilst the Pigs moved theirs with aplomb. ‘Hot Josh’ Weaver continued his form from last season and put in a huge shift in the loose and line out. Ably backing up Weaver was Trevor Anderson and Mike Wade with Dave Tait hoovering up anyone in the tight. Noah Harrison making his debut for the Pigs, packing down beside Weaver, was prominent in the loose and had a try disallowed following a beautiful kick and chase from Andy Tyler and support from Mo Marsales. The Pigs pressure paid off with the baby faced assassin Alistair Clark breaking the deadlock. Ian Davies broke from a scrum and with Clark, as ever, in close support took the ball and carried both it and a would-be tackler over the line.

On the rare occasions Hamilton forayed into the Pigs territory they were robustly rebuked. Chief antagonist was Dave Burton. If science is about what is, then engineering is about what can be. The Greek letter eta, in lowercase, often shows up in engineering documents. Engineers pay a good deal of attention to improving eta because it is a symbol for efficiency. The entire existence of engineers is dedicated to doing things better and more efficiently. Burton’s kicking from hand was pure eta and his execution was incredibly effective and efficient continually putting Hamilton back deep into their own half. With Kimball and Weaver causing mayhem on the opposition throw the Pigs regularly turned over ball.

The second half saw the Pigs continue their pressure game with Burton dictating play. From a Burton chip kick recovered by Kimball the ball was spread wide with Clark acting as link man. Drawing his man Clark’s pass found Bucky in space who scored in the corner. 10-0 to the Pigs and time for the killer blow. Following a big tackle by Mo in midfield on his opposite number Clark was straight in to turn the ball over. Spotting a gap Burton ghosted through to score under the posts. As the game started opening up the Pigs began to stretch Hamilton at every opportunity. Spencer Morgan threatened in midfield and Greg Hall continued his form into this game regularly requiring two, three or more defenders to stop him leaving gaps for Alain van Thiel, Bucky, Jordan Partridge and Stephane Nardin to exploit.

 

A 15-0 victory away from home is no mean result. There is plenty to work on before the first league match but the early signs and form of key players is encouraging. In the play Cyrano de Bergerac Antoine Comte de Guiche warns Cyrano, in a reference to Don Quixote, that fighting with windmills may drag him down into the mire to which our hero retorts "or up, among the stars”. Aye, Pigs dare to dream and reach the stars. The 2014 season awaits….

Bliss Points and The End of the Affairs

In the food industry the ‘bliss point’ is the optimum amount of sugar in a product. Food inventors and scientists spend a huge amount of time formulating the perfect amount of sugar that will send us over the moon, and send products flying off the shelves. With fat it’s the ‘mouth feel’:  the warm, gooey taste of cheese, or the bite into a crisp fried chicken that one gets. It rushes right to the same pleasure centers of the brain that sugar does, but fat is carrying twice as many calories, so it is more problematic from an obesity standpoint. There is almost no limit to the bliss point in fat. Food companies discovered they could add as much fat as they wanted to products, and unless people looked closely at the nutrition facts, they are going to totally love it more than they would without the fat.... More

Maple Flavoured Bacon...

Alistair Clark Earns His First Two Caps With Canada's Men Side.

 

A wing forward in the traditional mould who acts as a superb link-man with vision, pace and excellent hands earlier this season Alistair Clark became the clubs first Ontario Blues player which came as no surprise to anyone who has had the pleasure of playing with him or the misfortune to oppose him. A Baby Faced Assassin who is as modest and courteous off the pitch as he is ferociously teak tough on it, everyone in the club was thrilled when Alistair was selected to represent Canada in the recent America’s Rugby Championship held in BC. Alistair earned two caps against Uruguay and the US. Rumors abound that Alistair’s new pre-Pigs-game ryder now stipulates a bowl of skittles with all the brown ones removed and that Tom Kimball, now acting as his agent, has let it be known that Alistair is now available to make personal appearances on reality TV shows, store openings and Bar Mitzvahs. Congratulations Alistair and may you continue to go from strength to strength whilst inspiring us mere mortals around you.

Decisions, Decisions...

Sophie's Choice, Kramer vs Kramer or The Deer Hunter will have nothing on the choices some of the Pigs have to make this weekend. Cheer on the Ontario Blues which will have the wonderfully talented and popular Pig, Alistair Clark, on their roster or be like old Samuel Lapp from Witness and shun Alistair to get behind their home team of Atlantic Rock. Messrs Landry, Burton and Kimball will have quite the predicament as having all turned out for the latter and several other Pigs have their roots there. Best of luck Alistair and no doubt you'll be the best player on the pitch once again.

Voilà, c'est Fini!

The Pigs came back from Cayman Islands with great memories and many legendary stories to tell.

Bay Street RFC would like to whole heartedly thank the Cayman RFU for being such good hosts, and we hope seing you guys in Toronto soon.

 

For more on the Pigs adventure in Caymans:

- Pigs journal in Caymans courtesy of St. John

- Tour photo gallery

- Cayman RFU press release

- Cayman Select XV vs Bay Street RFC match video below

 

 

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On the 4th Day Goode Created Life and Resistence is Futile

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2014 Dues & Registration

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2014 Season Results

League: Team 1

 

Team W/L Score
York Yeomen W 41 - 26
Nomads 15 - 17 

League: Team 2

 

Team W/L Score
York Yeomen W 24 - 21
Nomads