Jersey Shore Rugby Wrap-up with Dr. J: Mud, muck make for memorable AC Invitational |
Jersey Shore Rugby Wrap-up with Dr. J: Mud, muck make for memorable AC Invitational
By DR. J. ZIMMERMAN
The 2016 Atlantic City Rugby Invitational, held May 7 at The Watering Hole in Mays Landing, is not only history, but it made history. In the 35 years I have been involved in rugby, never have I seen a spectacle such as this.
Ten teams gathered at the Watering Hole sports complex to compete for the AC Rugby Championship. What made this event extremely delightful for the spectators and the players is that the matches were played in an absolute mud bowl.
Think Woodstock after the rains!
Due to the pounding of rain we received that week, the two lush, green grass fields held plenty of water prior to the tournament kick-off.
Midway through the first two matches, the grass slowly disappeared, replaced by the thickest, darkest, wettest mud that you could ever imagine.
The players didn’t seem to mind, though. The games were played with an unusually high amount of intensity. The tackles were harder, the ball carrying was stronger and there seemed to be this strange air of joy surrounding the players. Despite the extra physicality, the players were having fun.
They would get up from the ground, dripping wet, covered in mud to the point where water bottles were needed just for players to clear the mud out of their eyes so they could see again. It was truly an amazing sight.
Our local men’s club, the Jersey Shore Sharks, battled to a third-place finish. Monmouth Rugby Club took the first-place trophy in a heated battle with Morris Rugby Club.
Ken Connelly from the Sharks was voted the team’s ‘Man of the Tournament’ for his outstanding play. In addition, there was an Old Boys match in which players ranging from the ages of 35 to 55 battled in the mud for bragging rights as to which was the better team.
In this case, the Jersey Shore Gray Sharks beat Morris Old Boys, 22-0, in a fun, physical battle. Who says old guys have to retire from sports and fade away?
The post-tournament party on the Watering Hole back deck was a blast, with teams singing rugby songs, eating and drinking to live music and other rugby shenanigans.
During the party, the Sharks inducted three members of the club into the Jersey Shore Rugby Hall of Fame. Paul Giunta from Somers Point and “Preacher” Jim Schroeder from Port Republic were both inducted into the hall of fame in recognition of their years of competitive playing and support for the club.
Both players joined the team in the early 1990s. As a lasting memorial, the late Frank McBride, of Somers Point, was also inducted into the Sharks Hall of Fame. Frank passed away in 2012. He was one of the teams founding members. His rugby legacy with the Sharks will never be forgotten.
In all, it was a great day for Rugby.
Here is the latest news in our local and national rugby world: The Sharks’ men’s team and the Cape Atlantic Storm high school team both traveled to Monmouth County to play matches the weekend of May 14-15.
The Sharks just acquired new recruit, Tim Lenzsch, a Mainland High School graduate. Tim is home from Temple University, where he plays on the Owls’ rugby team.
On the national rugby front, Atlanta’s Life University won the USA Rugby Collegiate D1A national championship this past week vs St. Mary’s University of California. Also, University of California beat Brigham Young for the Varsity Cup title, which aired live on NBC Sports. And, lastly, as always, the Jersey Shore Rugby Club, men’s and high school teams are always on the lookout for high level athletes to play our sport. If you are interested, give us a call. Ruck on!
Dr. J. Zimmerman is the president of the Jersey Shore Rugby Club Board of Directors. He is the men’s club head coach and director of youth rugby. Dr. J. is also the team chiropractor. For more information on Jersey Shore Sharks Rugby, visit www.JerseyShoreRugby.com or look us up on Facebook at Jersey Shore Rugby Club, or call 609-652-6363. You can also email firstname.lastname@example.org.