Match Reports (2014)

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

 

Bay Street RFC vs Saracens  (July 5, 2014)

 

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

 

Bay Street RFC II vs Saracens II  (July 5, 2014)

 

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?

 

 

Anniversaries, Adolescents and The Rapture

 

Bay Street RFC vs Saracens  (June 14, 2014)

 

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.

 

 

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

 

Bay Street RFC II vs Saracens II  (June 14, 2014)

 

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.

 

 

Norwegian sports commentary and Telepathy

 

Bay Street RFC I vs Dragons I  (June 7, 2014)

 

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?

 

Bay Street RFC II vs Dragons II  (June 7, 2014)

 

'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

 

Bay Street RFC III vs Dragons III  (June 7, 2014)

 

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 considers 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...

 

Bay Street RFC I vs Vaughan Yeomen (May 24th, 2014): 41 - 26

 

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”. Those follically challenged observers of Pigs at Play are always envious of the full heads and designs sported by those who can. Viewing the game pictures from the Pigs comprehensive 41-26 first team victory over the Vaughan Yeomen one is struck by the sheer volume of hair and how it mockingly twisted, turned and flowed in the beautiful summer breeze on Saturday as those less fortunate rued the fact that we are losing hair where we want it and growing it where we don’t.

 

One would expect this ‘joie de vivre’ to be more prevalent in the backs and they did not disappoint. Andy Tyler’s hair bobbed and swayed but like Andy displayed a discipline and structure evident in his play. Dave Burton, sans scrumcap, sported a samurai-inspired little bun and was ever the warrior. Alex Koppel’s luscious chestnut bang taunted and teased with every stride.  Newbie Ryan Tomlinson’s danced and jigged much like he did on the pitch evading would-be tacklers whilst Spencer Morgan’s flowed like a Lion’s mane as he continually found space with his powerful running. Even Tom Clancy got in on the act. At the recent Cannes film festival ‘Grace of Monaco’ was screened with Nicole Kidman playing the eponymous lead. If Nicole Kidman’s role was a homage to Grace Kelly then it could be argued that Clancy’s hair was in deference to Jen Lomax’s with its brushed back locks and windswept look. How the new Mrs. Tait feels about her style being copied remains unknown but certainly Don Henley’s ‘Boys of Summer’ had arrived.

 

But there is no point in looking good if you can’t back it up on the pitch and make no mistake that, despite it being the first game of the season and all the rust that comes with it, this was a very impressive victory. The Pigs may wear pink jerseys and embrace a champagne brand of rugby but they are a bunch of highly intelligent, battle hardened and tough rugby players with outstanding leaders from 1 to 15.

 

From the start Bay Street played a high tempo and aggressive game with Andy Tyler breaking early incisively. The Yeomen did enjoy possession but they came up against an aggressive defense and lacked the tactical nous and game management of their opponents. The opening try was an example of this. A double tackle by Tomlinson and The Mountain that is Peter Danner in midfield set up a ruck. Spotting that no one was defending the edge Danner picked up and broke free. The Mountain with space is an ‘irresistible force’ and try as the Yeomen might they did not have an ‘immovable object’ to counter. Breaking several tackles The Mountain broke up the pitch before drawing his man and feeding Jon “Mo” Marsales to open the firsts account with Burton adding the extras.  

 

The Pigs did not let up and shortly afterwards, from a ruck, the ball was spun out to Trevor Anderson. Trevor may be a hooker but he has the size, pace, footwork and ball skills to play in the backrow. Displaying all these talents in abundance Trevor broke through the middle of the Yeomen’s pack and touched down.

 

A turnover in midfield led to the third score. Dave Tait produced a simply stunning one-handed offload, whilst being tackled, to The Mountain who broke the first and then needed a further two tacklers to stop him. The ball was whipped to Burton who tore open the defense before giving Kimball a pass that should have left him in hospital. Tougher than the rest Kimball set the ball up and with the center combination working beautifully to allow the wingers Jordan Partridge and Mo to explore the gaps. Noah Harrison was on hand to take the final pass and score. 17-0 up and all looked rosy but a dropped pass and quick reactions from the Yeomens fullback saw him pick up and race clear to score under the posts.  

 

Balance was restored shortly afterwards following a superb double tackle by the beautifully coiffed Clancy. Ian Davies turned the ball over and the ball was spun wide to Jordan Partridge. In the occasional ‘separated at birth’ series on the Pigs Facebook page Jordan was likened to The Roadrunner escaping the increasingly futile attempts of capture by Wild E. Coyote. This was life imitating art as Partridge’s sheer pace took him around the despairing cover to score under the posts. The Yeomen, to their credit, never gave up and scored again to narrow the gap.       

 

The second half saw Bay Street determined to close the door on their visitors. The Mountain rampaged upfield and The Kraken, aka Alex Koppel, was released taking full advantage of the space afforded to him on the wing. Following one of these runs from the ensuing ruck Anderson again broke free and released Burton who looked to have scored. The referee deemed the ball to have been held up and an attacking scrum 5 was awarded. Defensively speaking a position like this is akin to a letting a loan shark hold onto ones wallet: nothing good can come of it. Scenting blood the cold dead eyes of Tom Kimball rolled back and briefly showed life as he picked up and smashed his way over to score.  

 

The game really opened up with both sides displaying their wares. Once again the game management of the Pigs was superior with Burton just magnificent as he either made decisive breaks, put others through gaps or kicked intelligently for position. A Kimball and Rouanet turnover saw Burton make a huge break down the sideline with Partridge in tow. When the latter was tackled the backs linked beautifully with Spencer’s pass finding his cousin Trevor loitering with intent on the wing. Riding a tackle Anderson found Hot Josh Weaver on his shoulder who was more than happy to add to his growing try collection and impressive displays. It was also quite apt that Weaver scored as his father, Tony, was there to enjoy the occasion. Neither disappointed their growing fans.

 

The Yeomen continued to threaten and did add to their tally but by this stage the Pigs were in the ascendency. More beautiful linkage between the backs and forwards combined with an aggressive defense saw Bay Street press at every opportunity. The centers worked the ball superbly again and Burton took advantage to score the final try.

 

Satisfaction from an opening day win derived but with the knowledge that there is plenty of work to do and with a tough game next up against the Nomads Bay Street knows this is only the beginning. When Elaine’s boyfriend Kurt proposed to her under George’s advice when he discovered he was starting to go bald George pleaded for him to “Live, dammit. Live every precious moment as if this was the last year of your life.” Well live Pigs, live and enjoy every moment on and off the pitch together as the opposition loses their hair trying to stop you doing what you do best.

 

St. John O'Connor

 

The Problem with Silver and Rampaging non-CGI Monsters...

 

Round 1, 2014

 

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...

 

Preseason 2014

 

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...

 

Fall Cup Recap (October 29th, 2013)

 

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.

Bay Street reached their own bliss point on Saturday in retaining the Fall Cup played in deplorable conditions having defeated Saracens, Toronto Dragons and Mississauga Blues along the way. The Fall Cup was a frustrating affair and can only be likened to those sticky adolescent fumblings wondering if this was finally the occasion when one would finally rid oneself of that virginal millstone. Games called off at the last moment, teams postponing matches and reformatting all led to the feeling of when rather than where it would eventually happen.

 

Some people are just made of the right stuff. Tom Wolfe’s novel was inspired by the desire to find out why astronauts accepted the danger of space flight. The book recounts the enormous risks that test pilots were already taking, and the mental and physical characteristics—the titular "right stuff"—required for and reinforced by their jobs. After suffering an injury against the Nomads in May Dave Burton required shoulder surgery that was expected to keep him out for the season. A few Pigs, knowing the character involved, had a sneaky bet that Burton would be back before its end and were proved right when Dave turned out against the Dragons in the first game of the Fall Cup.

 

It may be too obvious and, quite frankly, lazy to make a Game of Thrones dragons reference but not even Denerys Stormborn’s Unsullied could have prevented the Pigs from racking up a 58-20 victory and scoring 10 tries in the process. Timing is everything and with some star players making their first appearance since the league final the Dragons were, unfortunately for them, in the wrong place at the wrong time. The pick of the tries was Tom Kimball’s dummy kick and subsequent break which fooled the last defender and gave Kimball the time and space to make the line. Other highlights saw Greg Hall play on the wing to bring back memories of Jonah Lomu in his halcyon 1995 World Cup days; just watching The Mountain that is Peter Danner being an absolute beast in defense and attack; the contrast between the strong running of Alex Koppel and the elegance of Bucky in full motion; the look of utter disbelief on both teams faces at Burton’s reverse kick and the killer instinct that saw the Pigs keep playing at a high tempo and scoring a try with the last play of the game through Josh Weaver much to the (baffling) annoyance of the Dragons.

 

Next up was the Saracens which the Pigs knew would be as physical and difficult as all games between these sides are. With Ian Davies throwing in at lineout the Pigs were guaranteed quality ball and used it superbly time and again in wet and cold conditions. The backrow of Kimball, Jon Goode and Micah Simmons at their collective belligerent best caused havoc and with a backline containing the pace of Mo Marsales, Geoff Bylund, Dave Manii and Jordan Partridge along with the footballing nous of Todd Cornford Saracens simply had no answer. Somehow Mo, playing in the center, found himself at the back of a maul from a lineout and scored the Pigs last try with the others coming from Kimball, Partridge and the always combative Mike Davy.

 

This set up the last game against the Mississauga Blues which the Pigs had beaten twice in the league earlier in the season. Not only was it the final game of the season but it was also the final game of rugby for the club’s coach Philippe Rouanet and it was no surprise that so many players wanted to be involved to mark the occasion. Philippe, for those who do not know, is a son of Toulon who played most of his rugby in the tough French leagues and has a face to prove it. It also marked the return of Alistair Clark to the back row fresh from his exploits of representing Canada in the recent America’s Cup in BC and it says everything about the man that he turned out to play in a game he could easily not have especially given the conditions on the day.

 

The game was played in its entirety in driving wind and rain with the temperature barely above zero: or in other words a typical Irish summer’s day. It was harder to know who to feel sorrier for: the two teams on the pitch trying to keep their extremities from freezing or the trainers and subs on the sideline. There is that famous saying that ‘there are no atheists in foxholes’ but I can guarantee anyone reading this that this can be extended to the replacements on the uncovered sideline as they prayed they wouldn’t have to strip off and replace anyone.

 

Peter Shippen, back from his recent nuptials, was there to anchor the scrum and the front row of Shippy, Philippe and Charles Blott dominated their opposition in every facet of play. The pack was magnificent on the day and their collective work in turning over ball or, in Greg Hall’s case, simply ripping it out from the arms of the opposition as they tried to attack was a sight to behold.

 

Four first half tries from Bucky (2), Jess Landry and Kimball saw the Pigs 20-0 up and although the Blues scored a try shortly after the interval Bay Street went straight back down the pitch to score a highly impressive sweeping try, given the conditions, through Koppel. Thankfully and to the objections of no one the referee blew the game up leaving the Pigs victorious and Fall Cup Champions for 2013.

 

So the 2013 season has drawn to a close and with it many wonderful memories and highlights. Particular favorites are the overall sense of camaraderie and genuine enjoyment between players regardless of ability, team or backgrounds. The tour to Cayman was a marvelous event and will live long in everyone’s memory with Jon Goode’s retelling of the Dick Rum and Cock Scotch stories getting funnier with every telling. Watching some simply magnificent players was another treat as was the courage of Burton to come back so quickly from a serious injury. The back row of Kimball, Clark and Tom Clancy when playing together was as good as any this hack has ever seen. I would pay to watch Bucky train but as this is against everything the Pigs stand for my money is safe. Colin Alexander was a dynamo on the field and Jordan Partridge a ghost that teams simply could not tackle. Dave Manii was consistency personified for the second team and Mo was, well Mo. Ian Davies came up with the quote of the season after the semi final league win over Saracens who took the lead and then shipped 60+ unanswered points: “Don’t poke the bear”. Quite right you are Sir.

 

It was also encouraging to see so many new players join the club and one can only hope they enjoyed themselves and come back for many more seasons with the Pigs. Last but not least from a personal perspective congrats to Noel Chambers in his efforts to get a third team up and running and I have no doubt they will grow and get stronger as more players join and others succumb to the inevitably of age and commitments.

 

There is sadness too as we bid farewell to Philippe as a player and Ritchie White returning home whilst those who endured serious season ending injuries such as Jordan Laurin, Dan Yungblutt, Alex Austin, Will Simpson and James Manicom are wished speedy recoveries. Your presence has been missed gentlemen.

 

 

The bliss point has been achieved and now stored for posterity. This club will continue to grow and espouse everything that is great about our game. To all Pigs who took the field this year be proud of your achievements and contribution as it’s you that makes this club great. For that I salute you.

 

St John O'Connor

 

Don't Poke the Bear...: Bay Street RFC I 64 - Toronto Nomads I 14

 

Match Recap (August 20th, 2013)

 

Or should that be Pig? Either way it is copyright of Ian Davies and sums up the 1’s result against Saracens in Saturday’s semi final. 14-0 down to two first half converted tries and then 64 unanswered points including 9 tries. Perhaps it should be go ahead and poke the bear but beware the consequences.

 

Saracens and the Pigs shared the spoils in the league this season with each side winning the away match. Tough, hard games between opponents who know a lot about each other. This was no different and some of the early hits on both sides were truly wincing. If Tom Clancy gets hurt and needs to leave the field that tells you everything you need to know about the physicality stakes.

 

Saracens got off to a flyer and were 14-0 up inside the first twenty minutes.  There were groans and trepidation was growing on the sideline as memories of the first league meeting came flooding back where Saracens won on Pigs soil. Could fate be so cruel again? Plus how could all those lovely, cold Hogtown tins just sitting there waiting to mark the start of Peter Shippen’s bachelor parties be drank with a clear conscience if we lost? Or drank at all? The possible repercussions were a fate worse than a fate worse than death: the cold black eyes of Tom Kimball would remain black as the ace of spades, Josh Weaver would start talking about cricket and Philippe would be like a Michelin star chef who woke one morning to find a McDonalds open beside his premises. Too much time, effort and sacrifice had been made in the previous 6 months and if the league crown was to be relinquished it would be with a fight and not a whimper. No, this was a game the Pigs simply could not and would not lose.

 

Bucky got the scoring started with a penalty following a Saracens infringement. This settled the nerves and the Pigs strong running and support play began to eke a foothold in the game. More pressure resulted in another Pigs penalty mid-way between the 22 and 10 meter line. Saracens made the cardinal error of turning their back assuming the Pigs would kick. Assumption being the mother of all screw ups Andy Tyler took full advantage to tap and go finding himself the Saracens defense before they realized what happened.  The smile on Andy’s face as he raced clear to score was of sheer joy that his audacity had paid off and was only matched by the Saracens scowl that they had been taken in by it.  Conversion over and the Pigs were just three points down and gaining momentum. Ian Davies mobility and strong support play paid off when he took a pass and raced through to score to put the Pigs in front.

 

The relationship between a remora fish and its host is one of phoresy whereby it attaches itself via a sucking device to a larger host for transport, scavenging or protection needs. It seems the perfect simile to describe Alistair Clark’s performance and season as Clark was simply superb on Saturday scoring three tries: the second such time Alistair has achieved this distinction this season. From a scrum wide left Tyler fed Alexander who switched with Jess Landry. Kimball and Davies were first on the scene to secure the ruck ball. Clark picked and spotting a gap raced through before rounding the full back to score under the posts.

 

The next score was the first of Colin Alexander’s brace. From a scrum on the Saracens 10 meter line Alexander dummied a switch with The Hound and then split the centers to sprint in under the posts. Clark added his second try of the half shortly afterwards following a Tyler half break from a scrum. From the ruck Alexander broke and found Clark wide who scored despite the best efforts of two would-be tacklers. The referee sounded his whistle for half time with the Pigs leading 38-14.

 

Peter Shippen left the fray shortly into the second half to a standing ovation on the sideline and a fair amount of water cast his direction to be replaced by Mike Wade. Saracens were on the attack in the second half but a loose kick found Spencer Morgan who took off on a powerful, rangy run. Beating several tacklers Morgan drew the winger and released Alexander who raced clear and in an act of selflessness passed to Zach Warrick on the line for The Hound to get in on the scoring.

 

A stolen lineout led to the next Pigs try. Kimball took it at the tail and with the play spread right and then back left Trevor Anderson took the pop pass from Bucky and beat prop, winger and flanker to score in the corner. Bucky was reliable as ever with his kicking converting 8 from 9 conversions and made no mistake with this one.

 

Kimball was again instrumental in Clark’s third try. From another lineout Kimball fed Clark peeling round the front and with the area undefended Alistair cut a rapier-like figure as he evaded the back three’s attempts to thwart him. Alexander added his second and the Pigs ninth and final try of the afternoon to bring to a close a resounding victory by a score line of 64-14. All was good in the world again: Kimball’s eyes became human, Philippe smiled and the only mention of cricket was the cricket players in the adjoining pitch asking Alex Austin to kindly cycle somewhere else other than through their wicket. Normally in cricket it is normally a case of ‘rain stopped play’ but ‘cyclist stopped play’ was a new one for everybody. The Hogtown flowed and the first of Shippy’s bachelor parties got well and truly under way.

 

The Pigs have a much welcomed week off and then the final against Lindsay. It won’t be one for the faint hearted but beware the consequences of poking the bear. This group has been well and truly stirred and is far from sated. Lindsay beware.

 

St. John O'Connor

 

 

On the 4th Day Goode Created Life and Resistence is Futile: Bay Street RFC II 28 - Toronto Nomads II 5

 

Match Recap (August 12th, 2013)

 

And so it came to pass that on the fourth day Jon Goode, solicitor and Club Captain, added a further string to his bow by creating life and added ‘daddy’ to his titles with the introduction of Emilia into this world.  Although in the interest of balance it should be pointed out that Jon’s lovely wife Marta did also play a big part in the process. 48 hours later with little to no sleep in between Goode stepped forth onto the pitch against Saracens like a superhero determined to make the world, or at least that part of Sunnybrook, safe for the newest Bay Street Piglet whenever she should deign to make her debut.

 

Indiana Jones looked down into the Well of the Souls and groaned “snakes, why did it have to be snakes?” For the 2’s the same could be said for Saracens as we all knew what was coming: tough, dogged opposition, no quarters asked or given requiring full-on commitment and concentration for 80 minutes. Saracens didn’t disappoint either and really took the games to the Pigs from the outset camping inside Bay Street’s half for much of the first 15 minutes. Charge after charge had to be repelled and the scramble defense was in action more times than makes comfortable viewing. The defense though was up to the task; the back row of Goode, Greg Hall and Micah Simmons put in a Trojan effort; Richie White ripped a ball on the line when a try seemed certain and Charles Blott forced a turnover, again on the line, and set up a counter attack from it.

 

With the game still at 0-0 Bay Street slowly began to exert their game. The packs support play at times was breathtaking. Time and again rather than go to ground the tackler would look and find support in the form of one of their colleagues. This play led to the opening try. Greg Hall broke two tackles and found Goode who was in no mood to be stopped and simply ran through two would-be tacklers to bring the game over half way. Liam Boyle, back at 10 after injury, used his wide range of passing to set his very dangerous backs loose at every opportunity.  Mo Marsales broke with Dave Manii in support. A ruck formed close to the Saracens line and from there Mick Davy dove over to score. Alex Koppel returning after his shoulder injury duly knocked over the conversion to give the Pigs a welcome but against the run of play 7-0 lead.

 

From this point though Bay Street began to dominate the game. The pack was cohesive in everything they did and watching them was like watching The Borg: a collective consciousness on show and instead of The Irish Embassy on the front of the jerseys it may as well have said “resistance is futile”.

 

The second try came from a turnover from Blott and Marsales. Doug Henderson, playing very consistently this season and thankfully that consistent is ‘well’, took the ball on. James Manicom and White secured the ball and it was whipped out to Manii who needed two tacklers to bring him down. Davy broke on the blindside and found Jordan Partridge who simply slipped through the tackles of the prop and hooker when he really had no right to and touched down in the corner. At some point the TRU may have to ask Jordan to stand in front of a mirror before games to ensure he has a reflection and isn’t some phantom spirit impossible to capture.  It is doubtful that not even the fabled Ghostbusters team would stand a chance.

 

More sustained Pigs pressure lead to a penalty awarded just before the half time whistle and as much as out of respect to the opposition as it was a semi-final Captain Boyle opted for the posts which Koppel slotted through to leave the half time score 15-0 to the Pigs. 

 

The second half saw Fraser Watson on at 10 and the beauty of playing a scrum half in that position continued with Watson’s vision and passing stretching the Saracens defense. Marsales, Chase Robinson and Manii caused Saracens huge problems even before the ball reached the lethal Partridge and hard running Koppel.

 

A Goode lineout take on the half way line was driven by the pack up to the Saracens 22. Blott broke and Davy then found Watson who had Greg Hall close by and there was no way Godzilla was going to be stopped. Try number three to the Pigs and a 20-0 lead.

 

Saracens to their credit did not give up and nor were the Pigs expecting them to. They pressed and pressed through rucks and hard running and were rewarded when close to the line they dived over to score. The Pigs had another setback losing the always solid and reliable James Manicom through a serious injury. It was a real pity as Manicom has been playing superbly all season with his mobility and scrummaging being a big part of the 2’s success. We wish you a speedy recovery James and look forward to a quick return of your dry wit and observations. Blair Carpenter replaced Manicom and had another hugely impressive outing in the front row.

 

The Pigs almost scored from the length of the pitch in a beautiful flowing movement involving backs and forwards only for the ball to be knocked on just at the line. The Pigs won the scrum though and Godzilla outpaced two of the Saracens backrow to score his second try and the Pigs fourth. It was the security score needed and both sides knew that with it the game was effectively over.

 

The game ended 25-5 to Bay Street and with it a place in the final on August 24th against Lindsay. The Pigs are hitting fine form at the right time. Lindsay will be tough opponents but with the pack playing as they are combined with the fluidity of the backs and several players to return Lindsay may well, too, find that resistance is indeed futile.

 

St. John O'Connor

 

 

The Field of Dreams: Lindsay RFC II 30 - Bay Street RFC II 39

 

Match Recap (July 29th, 2013)

 

Ah Lindsay. Picturesque Lindsay with acres of agricultural land as far as the eye can see, spacious houses with tightly mowed lawns interspersed with trees without a flower bed in sight. Lindsay where the mullet roams free safe in the knowledge it will never become an endangered species. Lindsay with a beautiful clubhouse and grounds whose fastidious protectionism of it displayed by their women folk will undoubtedly pay off if the premise of Iron Sky comes true and ze Germans do actually come down from their post WWII moon base to take over the world.   

 

Bay Street 2’s took on their Lindsay counterparts in the last league game of the season knowing a win would guarantee a playoff spot. Played in perfect conditions on a lovely pitch both teams went out and played the game as it supposed to be: running at every opportunity, tacking hard but fairly and playing smart, intelligent rugby. Too much rugby today is played by teams afraid to lose and take chances rather than playing what’s in front of them and for this the players and coaches of both teams should take a bow. 

 

The first time these two sides met Lindsay raced into an unassailable first half lead through a combination of their own good work and the Pigs lack of it. This time though it was Bay Street that started the stronger with backs and forwards combining well. The half backs Mike Davy and Todd Cornford were excellent in their game management knowing when to bring their forwards into play and when to release their very dangerous outside backs.  Similar to the first game Lindsay opened the scoring from a breakaway in their own half. The conversion was missed which was a familiar theme of both sides.

 

The Pigs were undeterred though and kept to their game plan: forwards taking the ball on until Cornford demanded the ball to set the backline free. The pace and support of the Pigs play was taking its toll on the home defense and it was rewarded when Chase Robinson’s powerful run was taken on by Godzilla himself, Greg Hall. The ball was whipped wide and Spencer Morgan proved too strong for the defensive cover to score in the corner.

 

The linking between backs and forwards was a sight to behold at times and led to the Pigs taking the lead. From a kick return Dave Manii counter attacked and found Robinson in support. Chase had a scintillating game routinely beating two or three defenders each time he had the ball. If Chase was in good form then the centre combination of Mo Marsales and Jess Landry were extraordinarily good. Mo may as well have been covered in grease such was the inability of would-be tacklers to hold onto him. It didn’t matter whether it was backs, forwards or a combination of the two Mo simply beat whatever was in front of him and it took herculean efforts from the home defense to stop him. Landry is simply magnificent to watch and regardless of age remains one of the best centers in the entire TRU. From Robinson’s run Mo broke and passed to Landry who went on an outside arc. Pulled down just short of the line Jess had the presence of mind to find his support in the form of Josh Weaver who dotted down.

 

Bay Street kept up the pressure on Lindsay through solid defense, excellent fielding and support play from the back three of Robinson, Dave Manii and Morgan. The back row of Godzilla, Josh Weaver and captain, Peter Weingarden complimented each other superbly and Blair Carpenter making his 2’s debut after playing for the 3’s the previous week gave a highly impressive performance at loosehead in both the tight and loose. From a relieving kick Manii countered and fed Morgan. Mo was next in line and when four players eventually took him down the razor sharp Davy broke at the side of the ruck to dive over and score. That was the last score of the half with Bay Street ahead 5-17.

 

The second half saw the Pigs keep up the pressure. Mike Wade, prominent in the loose, carried ball up and when the ball came out to Cornford he stepped his man just inside the 22 and straightened up to sprint under the posts.

 

The next try was a beautiful example of playing heads-up rugby. The ball came out to Marsales and with the midfield fully expecting Mo to break once more Morgan came in off his blind side wing to take an inside pass and split the defense wide open. Such was Spencer’s pace, power and angle that the defender’s flailing arms had as much chance of stopping him as the finishing line tape does a marathon winner. 

 

Godzilla was instrumental in the next try. Turning over ball Greg went on one of his trademark runs that makes a defender possibly come to a different conclusion to that famous Marv Levy quote of “where else would you rather be?” With Fraser Watson replacing Davy the quality of ball to the backs was not diminished and when it quickly flashed through the hands Morgan broke to be hauled 5 yards out. The ball was knocked on thus denying Mo a try on his birthday but from the resultant scrum Bay Street won it against the head. Weaver picked, Hall secured the ruck and the ball was spread wide from Watson to Landry to Morgan who scored his third of the day.

 

Weaver departed with a rib injury to be replaced by Alain van Thiel who wasted no time in making his presence felt in both attack and defense. To their credit Lindsay refused to lie down and enjoyed their best spell of the game. They upped the pace and ran from everywhere causing Bay Street defensive headaches and crossing for two tries. At times the referee had some interesting rule interpretations but the Pigs were undeterred. Manii broke finding Philippe in support. The ball went right through Mo and Peter Crozier and then was swung back right. Landry released Morgan who had Weingarden in close support at the line. Quick hands between Landry, Morgan, Marsales and van Thiel in an area no larger than a car parking space saw Greg Hall score the Pigs final try.

 

Lindsay scored three tries in the final 15 minutes but the lead that the Pigs built through their hard work and superior play won through in the end. The scoreline of 30-39 secured second spot in the league and a record of 6-3-1 is a tremendous reflection on the character, skill, spirit and leadership demonstrated throughout the season in sometimes trying circumstances. Thankfully the horrendous injury list the club has endured this season has tapered off and we are now seeing the welcome return of some of these players. With playoffs imminent there is the sense that the 2’s are finding form and peaking at the right time.

 

The great English hooker Brian Moore famously remarked after the 1993 Lions played Southland “Invercargill: twinned with Chernobyl” and whilst Lindsay certainly doesn’t fall into that category, despite the respect between the two teams on Saturday, it does retain a certain unwelcoming charm for the Bay Street Pigs.

 

St. John O'Connor

 

 

The Cold Black Eye of Tom Kimball: Bay Street RFC I 27 - Toronto Nomads I 19

 

Match Recap (July 22nd, 2013)

 

‘Sometimes that shark looks right at ya. Right into your eyes. And the thing about a shark is he’s got lifeless eyes. Black eyes. Like a doll’s eyes. When he comes at ya, he doesn’t even seem to be livin’… ’til he bites ya, and those black eyes roll over white and then… ah then you hear that terrible high-pitched screamin. The ocean turns red, and despite all your poundin’ and your hollerin’ those sharks come in and… they rip you to pieces’. An extract from the monologue by Robert Shaw’s character Quint about his experience with sharks as a survivor of the sinking of the USS Indianapolis in the blockbuster Jaws may seem a strange way to open up a rugby match report but it seemed quite apt when describing Tom Kimball’s performance and the effect he had on Saturday’s game. Read it again and substitute Tom for the shark and bite for tackling and you have an indication of Kimball’s influence. His cold dispassionate pregame eyes and matching body language was confirmation enough that the Pigs losing streak would not extend to three games. True to form Kimball had a massive game and was his usual belligerent and inspirational self. Games against the Nomads are tight, physical and sapping matches. They are a well drilled, dangerous side and are to be treated with respect. This was no different.

After losing the last two league games perhaps this was the fixture required to re-focus minds allied to the fact that it coincided with Ladies Aux and on this day of all days no one wanted to have that gut wrenching feeling again.

From the start the Pigs showed their intent keeping the ball in hand and making the Nomads commit to tackles. The forwards were producing quick ruck ball with Andy Tyler’s whip-like pass giving Colin Alexander that extra split second on the ball. Alexander had another impressive outing at 10 liberally sprinkling his Puck-like fairy dust amongst the play. It was from one of his half-breaks that the Pigs got the opening score. Kimball and Tom Clancy made the initial breaks in the Nomads half and when Jess Landry was tackled on the wing the ball came back to Spencer Morgan at 15. Spencer was brought down on the 5 yard line whereupon the ball came to Alexander who sucked in three defenders forming a maul. The forwards drove and Trevor Anderson scored. Alexander converted to make it 7-0.

Nomads as to be expected did not lie down and dragged themselves back into the game scoring an unconverted try. 

Bay Street responded from the restart with their pick and drive game reaping dividends. Anderson and Clancy were taking ball on and when the ball went to The Mountain aka Peter Danner someone somewhere got the urge to put on Carole Kings ‘I feel the earth move under my feet’ and Richter scale needles started twitching. Brought down just over halfway the ball was popped up in broken play to Mo Marsales whose weaved through would-be tacklers like a downhill skier between gates to dive over untouched.

The Nomads are a good team but were having a tough time getting out of their half. The ball was kicked to Morgan who ran it back with interest. From the ruck Dan Yungblut had to leave the field with a dislocated shoulder. Not wishing to cause a fuss or have to deal with the hassle of hospitals Dan put his shoulder back in himself Lethal Weapon style. A tough man and true gentleman I bet Dan craps bigger than Mel Gibson.

The third try again came from sustained Pigs pressure. On the occasion the Nomads were in Bay Street’s half the ball was turned over and Kimball made a line break that saw him hauled into touch deep in the Nomads 22. The Pigs won the lineout and from a series of rucks where Clancy, Kimball, Morgan and Jamie Le Huquet were prominent Alexander had the strength to drag two defenders over the line with him to score. The half time score was 17-5 to the Pigs.

The second half began much as the first had with the Pigs putting their opponents under immense pressure. A beautiful loop between Alexander and The Mountain saw the former race clear and was unlucky not to score. Clancy was his usual hard as nails self in defense and with ball in hand exuded a ‘come on if you think you’re hard enough’ dismissive attitude to would-be tacklers. Few were.

From pressure at a ruck the Nomads had to touch down behind their own line. From the 5 meter scrum the Pigs front row of Dave Tait, Anderson and Peter Shippen simply drove through their opponents and with the Nomads scrum retreating Kimball picked up to touch down.

The second half was a much more even affair with the Nomads in a determined mood. The Pigs lost Tyler Nash to a hamstring strain early on leaving Tyler to be consoled by the bevy of beauties who came along to support him. The hardships of student life eh? This though meant a re-jigging of the backline with Jess Landry moving to the wing and The Hound aka Zach Warrick reuniting with The Mountain in midfield.

Nomads scored their second try through the sustained work of their pack after camping on the Pigs line.

Bay Street continued to attack. The scrum with Mike Wade replacing Shippy continued to dominate and the back row of Clancy, Kimball and Alistair Clark were outstanding in their work rate both in attack and defense.

It was a case of anything you can do I can do better for the Pigs 5th try where sibling rivalry ensured Spencer Morgan didn’t allow Trevor to claim all the credit on the day. Fielding a long kick Alexander made another trade mark half break and found support in the form of Josh Weaver. The ball was flashed to Morgan who ran an arc between the centre and wing before finding Landry. Jess drew his man and with Morgan running a supporting outside loop he took the return ball to score in the corner.   

Nomads had the last say on matters though scoring a breakaway try through their threequarters which was deserved. Two good teams and how close they are can be gauged by the score lines: the first game saw the Pigs win by 7 points and the return game by 8. Games are won by attitude as much as ability and on the day Bay Street had both in spades.

With the game over and Kimball returning to his more human form the 27-19 victory put the icing on a fantastic day for the club. With the last league match away to Lindsay this weekend wouldn’t it be wonderful to go there and reverse the score line from 2 weeks ago? There are no atheists in fox holes and there are no shark hunters in Lindsay.

 

St. John O`Connor

 

 

Atonement and a Goode Day: Bay Street RFC II 34 - Toronto Nomads II 19

 

Match Recap (July 22nd, 2013)

 

Oh the pageantry, the multi-colored vibrancy and panache it exuded. And that was just Dave Burton’s shirt let alone the pomp and spectacle of Ladies Aux. For any casual observer that comes across this report who perhaps is researching clubs in Toronto and mulling over which one to join let me assure you that as someone who has been involved in playing and watching rugby at a high level for over 30 years on different continents that with the possible exception of the Racing Club in Paris during the late 80’s and early 90’s there is not another club anywhere like the Bay Street Pigs. Immensely talented on the pitch and as good a people one could wish to meet off it being part of it is like reaching your rugby xanadu. The Ladies Aux day was a tremendous success and congratulations and thanks must be extended to all the players and their partners who made the whole event possible.

 

The 2’s faced their nemesis the Nomads on Saturday determined to atone for the beating handed out back in May. That it coincided with the day that was in it was all the extra motivation required. Before the game the captain, Peter Weingarden, and Philippe kept reiterating the point that the team couldn’t afford to give the Nomads any foothold: that Bay Street had to take the game to them. That both had faces that could advertise war just reinforced this point.

 

From the off one person who exemplified this attitude from the first to last minute was Jon Goode. Taking the kick off Goode smashed into their forwards thus setting the tone for everyone to follow. The Pigs had Mike Davy and Todd Cornford at half back and the two combined beautifully throughout the day. How the Australian team could have used someone with Todd’s nous against the Lions for although he resembles a mummy with ankles taped and cling film holding packs of ice to various body parts after games Todd remains one of the most intelligent footballers playing.

 

Cornford moved the play beautifully from early on with Mike Orlando playing on the wing making a good run and finding Davy in support. From there Doug Henderson took it on followed by Micah Simmons and James Manicom before it reached Goode who drove over from close range to score. 

 

The Nomads 2’s strength is their backs who are a dangerous bunch and can attack from anywhere. The three quarter line of Marek Warshawski and Chase Robinson in the centers with Orlando and Jordan Partridge on the wings simply didn’t let anyone by. Their defense was outstanding throughout. The Pigs second try came from a wonderful Partridge run who jinked and cut his way through several would-be tacklers. Weingarden and Robinson secured the ball and it came out to that man Goode again who raced clear to score his second try of the day.      

 

From the kick off Frank Orlando smashed the Nomads openside and the defense remained solid. Nomads were threatening to break from their backs but there was always a tackler or support to snuff out the threat. A Partridge tackle out wide and great work from the tight five resulted in turnover ball. Cornford whipped it wide with Robinson running straight and releasing Alain van Thiel (on to replace the injured Warshawski). Quick ruck ball saw the ball go back the opposite way and the man who started it all, Partridge, finished it by rounding his marker and touching down. 17-0 up and all looked rosy. Nomads were dangerous though and scored a converted try before half-time to reduce the deficit.

 

The first score of the second half would be crucial; if the Pigs score it would make that comeback all that more difficult. If Nomads scored it was game on. Credit to the Nomads who came all with all guns blazing and really took the game to the Pigs. With their forwards working together and their backs combining well with their outhalf; it was easy to see why they are top of the 2’s league. Nomads scored shortly after the restart and with their wing converting they were now just three points behind with the wind.

 

The Pigs though had Godzilla returning from injury and what a sight it was to see Greg Hall return to the fray. With Greg and Frank Orlando, or Frank the Tank as he clearly was that evening, popping up in the loose their power and aggressive running caused immense problems for the opposition. The game was incredibly close at this point with both sides having their chances. With their backs against the wall though Bay Street scored the try of the day or possibly of the season and it encapsulated everything the club stands for. From a scrum on the Pigs 10 meter line Goode broke with the opposition putting up as much resistance to his drive as a particularly plump toilet roll does with an over active and under exercised puppy in the room. The vocal Ken Ting took the ball on before Cornford made another break and passed wide to Partridge who slipped two tackles and popped inside to The Tank. Mike Davy was on hand to receive the pass and score a beautiful try and one that had every spectator on their feet applauding. Such is its intensity it is rumored that Ken Ting, our very own screaming Asian, may be the only player to achieve orgasm on the field of play.

 

This gave the Pigs breathing space and from there they didn’t look back. Robinson made a midfield break and found Partridge on the outside.  Jordan is one of the most elusive runners in the league and reinforced his status by slipping the tackle and racing through to score. The Nomads came back though and scored their third, unconverted, try following a high kick and chase to reduce the deficit once more.   

 

With the home support shouting them on the Pigs returned the compliment. Frank the Tank went on a barnstorming run which Godzilla continued. Goode was in support again and with Weingarden securing the ruck Mick Davy found Godzilla. Trying to stop a charging Greg Hall is like telling a church going Catholic to use the rhythm method and then pull out just before the magic happens: neither is going to happen. From outside the 22 a Godzilla at full steam ahead swatted away all around him to score the Pigs 6th and final try in the corner.

 

The game ended 34-19 to Bay Street who recorded a bonus point win and retribution for their previous encounter. The Nomads remain in pole position to win the league and if they do we must congratulate them. Any slip up and a win in Lindsay could see Bay Street reverse positions. For the day that was in it though amid all the glamour and élan Carly Simon could have been singing solely about the Bay Street Pigs. After all, nobody does it better.

 

St. John O' Connor

 

 

Image of a pink pig on a green and white crest Bay Street RFC

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