The NOVA Old Grays stumbled into action this weekend, with their appearance in the annual Atlantic Cup Rugby tournament in Lewes, Delaware.
The Cup is played on the Atlantic shores at Cape Henlopen Park which is incidentally the home of the “Biden Environmental Center” (insert political comment here).
The NOVA offense threw off its chains in the first game, dashing in for a try in the first minute after a breakaway by Prince Hill, former USA rugby stalwart. However, Rocky Gorge RFC of Maryland, the estimable opponent, drove the ball into NOVA territory. After a 5 meter scrum, the NOVA half-back Clarence “Weasel” Williams was body-slammed in the try zone and the ensuing loose ball covered for a try.
NOVA edged ahead late in the half with a try in the corner and a sensational drop-kick conversion by Andy Hosier. The players then took a break at half, with several Old Grays attempting frantically to recruits subs. Alas, there were only 15 players present.
The game stayed tight in the second half. NOVA gained a penalty deep in Rocky Gorge territory. NOVA put the ball in the reliable hands of second row Mark Rasmussen who bulled to within sight of the goal line. After a ruck, the ball came to wing Chris Diaz who drew in a tackler then pitched to fly-half Chap Petersen, who dove and placed the ball over the goal line. (Hey, I get to write this!) NOVA now held the lead.
The Old Grays were anticipating yet another triumph, as the wiled away the last few minutes. During that time, the Gray pack of Mike Murphy, CT Wood, Rasmussen, “Vinny” and “Joey Chops” comfortably held possession and even engaged their opponents in friendly banter and horseplay. Perhaps mistaking this repartee as malicious, the referee awarded two yellow cards which temporarily sent off players.
Then tragedy struck. Off a line-out, the ball was spun through the Gray hands, then batted forward accidentally to the Rocky Gorge backs. Open play ensued, which ended up with Rocky Gorge running into the try zone on the last play of the match. The final score was 22-21.
After the match, the NOVA players relaxed by explaining the theory of evolution to their Rocky Gorge counterparts, while enjoying the beach weather.
In the afternoon, the Old Grays had a second game against Old Gaelic RFC from Harrisburg, PA. Anticipating a physical match, the Grays shifted “the pride of Chantilly” Tim Hardmon into their pack and fortified their overall fifteen with three strapping recruits from Buffalo, New York.
Unfortunately, Old Gaelic was under the mis-impression that Old Boys rugby means “just over 25″ and full of tattoos. They drove hard into NOVA’s back line and quickly established a 17-0 lead. Against all odds, the Old Grays rallied and scored a try on a “quick tap” run by Ramussen. NOVA nearly grabbed another try before half, but suffered a costly yellow for fighting.
Playing shorthanded, the Old Gray went down hard in the second half, although they did score a second try on a loose play. The final score was not particularly close (40-12?)
After the match, the Old Grays exchanged warm greetings with Old Gaelic and Joey Chops established valuable new contacts for his bail bonds business.
With the match complete, the Old Grays repaired their wounds and reviewed the lessons learned. Despite the two losses, the team is looking forward to a fall schedule which may (or may not) be broadcast over the Internet via Vinny’s i-Phone.