Fall rugby, in Keene, New Hampshire... it's officially upon us - well, sort of. Saturday, we celebrated abnormally warm weather with a few other "abnormalities." As our home-opener against #BlackRiverRugbyClub, we took the opportunity to thank our amazing premier sponsors: Beeze Tees Screen Printing, Nye Hill Farm, 21 Bar & Grill, and Kilkenny Pub. Special shout-out to The Barbery In Keene, NH for all their support, and Branch and Blade Brewing - for the great game balls and Players of the Match prizes!
Other special circumstances include (A) our "Phoenix Player of the Year" front-runner, Elliott Hughes, who "opted out of the match" for THE ONLY acceptable reason according to Coach Wayne LaBombard: continuing the legacy (as pictured below). Congrats, Elliott and Kirsten! Can't wait to meet new Wolf-pup, Dorothy Grace!!! And then there was (B) The Pack's only man-bun, Jason Cook, re-aggravating a calf injury during a pre-kickoff high-five with his coach... not either of their proudest moments. Two starters down - first whistle hasn't even sounded!
So, with "not available" designations for perennial impact starters due to child-rearing and high-fives, we knew we wouldn't be taking the normal route this week.
From the first kickoff, Intensity declared itself the game's primary emotion. Neither team claimed perfection, but opportunity availed itself first to Monadnock. Inside Black River's 22m line, two high-tackle penalties gave quick options to the Wolfpack, and put last week's "missing link," Aidan Danger McAllister, with 3 would-be tacklers in his way to the try zone. Advantage, Danger! Wolfpack up: 5-0. With some massive hits by our defense, Black River's possession seemed short-lived and quickly a turnover inside our attacking zone put the forwards in a downhill mentality. 3 successive crashes drew the defense, and opportunistic veteran, Dan Belluscio, powered over a few speed bumps on his way to a sideline pay-day. Up to the task, Ely Thayer decided 7 is better than 5 and converted the score: 12-0, good guys. Less than 5 minutes later, rookie sensation, Stephen Wolff, found himself taking the express lane off a forward-pick into the promised land: 17-0.
Backed into a corner with plenty of rugby to play, Black River showed their strength at around 30 minutes... Linking nicely between distributors, crashers, and terrific support, they capitalized on a reeling defense and dotted down a converted score to announce their mission: 17-7. After a botched lineout in our attacking half, the "cleanup crew" decided that it was time to impose their will - giving our play-caller the chance to be a play-maker and seeing him cut through the defense to score in the center, and convert his own: 24-7. HALFTIME
In the second half, penalties plagued both squads. First, Black River gave Monadnock a look at posts twice within easy range for the sure-footed fly-half: 30-7. The Wolfpack saw crossover athlete rookies, Mischa Hoffman and Torre Marks, take high-tackle yellow cards in the 64th and 65th minutes - to stack the deck 15v13 in favor of the visiting team. Smelling blood in the water, a skilled Black River manipulated the tired and outnumbered defense, swiftly scoring after the second card: 30-12. Captain, Ryan Bell, settled his troops and led by example - playing out of position and tallying 10+ tackles of the pressuring opposition. Tempo and Trust became the mind-set for the vastly outnumbered home team. As time wound down, with fatigue strangling each of the 30 animals remaining, Black River showed their never-say-die mentality and scored a converted try as time expired: 30-19.
Monadnock Rugby Football Club takes on Black River tomorrow at 1pm at the Pat Russell Field (Formally known as Carpenter Street Field). Come support your local rugby team as we defend our home turf. Bring your friends and family as we will have food and games on the sideline before and during the game!
We will also be presenting jerseys to our premier sponsors Beeze Tees Screen Printing, Nye Hill Farm, Kilkenny Pub, and 21 Bar & Grill! We will also be giving a shout out to the rest of our sponsors including Branch and Blade Brewing and The Barbery In Keene, NH. This presentation will be at 12:45 so don’t miss it!
Also, please bring a non-perishable food item as during all of our home games this year, we will be collecting items to give to Southwestern Community Services! You won’t want to miss the game that everyone will be talking about all next week!
BEAUTIFUL day for rugby in Boston this past Saturday. Traveling a little light for available players, a nice contingent of Wolfpack Supporters made the trek and kept the sideline rocking! Thanks, fans.
From the opening whistle, our fancy-footed and high-flying President and loose forward, Tommy Hughes (Forward of the Match), plucked our kick-off from mid-air, letting the Boston Ironsides know that the ball would not be easily won at any point. Defense held, possession became the name of the game, and the battle raged on.
Scoring was highlighted with a beautifully-executed kick and chase by the combo of Ely Thayer (Back of the Match) to Gerald Palmer, and topped it off with an easy conversion. Poetry in motion, the Wolfpack started on the front foot, and put ourselves in a position to win the first quarter and never look back... Some crafty running and good decision-making by Drew set him up to assist new Wolfpack member, Zach Gedney, for a try. Watching his conversion attempt sail wide, Ely wasn't done scoring yet. After rebounding from an opponent score via strong phase play, the Men of Monadnock were awarded a penalty right in front of the posts and couldn't pass up a chance to go ahead by 2 scores. Penalty kick: good! Like the glorious battleship they're named after, Boston Ironsides refused to go quietly, and orchestrated a 70+ meter attack, finding every semblance of weakness in the Pack defense. Linking the ball between seemingly every player, they were met forcefully on the goal line by Drew "Big Hits" DiSilva, but momentum was too strong, and the score had been earned. One point was not a comfortable lead for Monadnock. Playing a "bend but don't break" defense, we found an opportunity to regain possession and go to work. 60+ minutes of hard rugby was evident on both sides, but preparation availed a late-game opportunity for our speed-power combinations at all attacking points on the field. A balanced pressure found defenders on their heels just enough to put the Pack in striking distance. Around 5 meters out, VP and #10, Ely took advantage of the teams hard work and good timing to split a few defenders around the ruck and earn pay dirt, dealing our opponents a final strike. Full time: Wolfpack 20, Ironsides 14.
As always, kind and gracious hosts - thanks to The Boston Ironsides Rugby Club. Great battle, and best of luck the rest of the season. We'd also like to thank our sponsors! Beeze Tees Screen Printing for providing uniforms that kept us looking good, even when we weren't playing our best. 21 Bar & Grill & Nye Hill Farm - always giving amazing nourishment for our minds, bellies, and souls to perform on and off the field. The Summit Athletic Center for keeping our bodies right - and The Barbery In Keene, NH doing the same for our beards! Lastly - a huge thank you to Branch and Blade Brewing for providing us delicious awards for Player(s) of the Match - which were enjoyed immensely by our opponents.
Monadnock Rugby is pleased to announce a joint training session and scrimmage with Freedom RFC of Portsmouth, NH! Training will commence at 12pm Noon this Saturday, August 25th at Carpenter Field in Keene, NH. The scrimmage will consist of two 20-minute halves, and is slated to take place directly after the training at 1:15pm the same afternoon.
Whether you're a casual spectator, rabid fan, or are interested in coming out to play with us, please join us for the scrimmage and afterwards for an on-field barbecue!
Pathways for Keene held their 17th Annual 4 on the 4th Road Race today, and members of the Wolfpack turned out to cheer on the runners and provide them with much-needed hydration. The event raises money to support the development, maintenance, and enhancement of foot and bike paths all around Keene.
For more information about Pathways for Keene, please visit http://www.pathwaysforkeene.org
The Wolfpack was invited to help build a new playground for our local YMCA, and several members came out to lend a hand for the children in our hometown. Amy Vaughn, Director of School Age Childcare at the YMCA, had this to say:
"So I heard what a bunch of you fellas did today. I heard you were absolute workhorses for an awesome cause. You just quietly showed up, selflessly worked your asses off and made something amazing happen for a bunch of lucky kids in our community. I see the stuff you do all the time, and I wanted to thank you guys for all the impact you make off the field. This club is an awesome example of why rugby is special. Thanks Wolfpack, for all the great things you do for this community...and for busting your asses today to build that badass playground today."
Thank you very much to Amy for her kind words, and thank you to the Keene YMCA for giving us an opportunity to help out in our community!
Who says there's no rugby in the summer? Keene State held their very first annual Sam Martin '09 Memorial Sevens Tournament this Saturday, and the Wolfpack were invited to participate. Monadnock Rugby availed themselves well, taking home third place and a shiny new plate for their efforts.
The tournament will continue to be held annually to benefit a scholarship created in the memory of Samuel A. Martin, a Keene State rugby player, Safety major, and multi-sport athlete who unexpectedly passed away at the age of 30.