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Saturday, August 28, 2010

Metropolis Old Boys 36 East Side Banshees 12-Back to Playing Prop Again!

When I had heard a few weeks back that my Metropolis Rugby Club was going to have a Family Day that would include a triple-header of rugby with the D1,D3 and Old Boys teams meeting up with the East Side Banshees, from Saint Paul-I quickly was able to get this weekend off. I really wanted to be able to play in the Old Boys game, and with the Aspen Ruggerfest coming next month, I wanted to be able to get some real game time in.

It also meant a lot to me to have a chance to play in front of my kids and my grandson. For my daughter, Rachel, this was the first time she had ever actually seen me play rugby, because most Saturdays in the past when I played, she usually had a horse show she had entered.

For me, the scary things about the guys on the Metropolis Old Boys, is that a lot of these men are my age, but have little KIDS of their own(As you will see in the shot lower down on this page), not grandchildren, like me. To my way of thinking, if you are in your late 40's or early 50's and fathering children...these guys are more nuts being parents of young kids at my age than chasing around after an oval ball on a sun-baked, upper-midwestern afternoon. If the choice is between bruises and sleep deprivation, I'll  take the bruises.

Saturday had a forecast of brilliant sunshine and warm temperatures. It was well into the mid 80's during our game, and was up near 90 for the games that the D1 and D3 sides had to play. I was thankful for the Old Boys game kick off to be at 11 30 AM, before the worst of the heat would envelope Columbia Park in northeast Minneapolis.

I ended up getting a lot of playing time in-we did rolling substitutions based on fitness(or lack of) and the warm weather. I played mostly at prop, but during a point in the game ended up playing at 8 man for a few minutes-a position that I had never played before. Boy, was I glad when Mike Kreblin came back into the game to play 8-man, and I could go back to my more normal position of prop. I think my teammates were relieved, too.

The game was played with great sportsmanship-no chippy stuff at all. We were able to blitz the Banshees in the first half to get a 24 -0 lead at halftime. They fought back to make it 24-12, but then we were able to salt the game away with a couple of late tries.

I was glad to get out of the game with nothing more than a little right shoulder and neck stiffness. Even though it was pretty warm out, I could not help but to think of how different it is going to be to play at altitude in Aspen, Colorado in about 3 weeks. I am really going to need to do some VO-Max work with my Kettle Bell workouts so that I am not total road-kill out in Aspen.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Back in Black

New Zealand may be the only rugby super-power where fans get nervous with the success of the All Blacks.

In 1998, 2002, and 2006, the All Blacks won the Tri-Nations Trophy-the Holy Grail of Southern Hemisphere Rugby...only to lose to France in an epic semi-final in the 1999 Rugby World Cup, Australia in the Semi-finals in 2003 and Franc again in the Quarterfinals of the 2007 Rugby World Cup. Kiwi fans expect only the best from their men in black...yet, there seems to be lingering doubts of bad mojo in this pre-World Cup Year of 2010, with the Rugby World Cup to be played in the All Blacks back yard next year.

The All Blacks have looked really good in their previous matches. They really needed to avoid getting blown out this past Saturday in Soweto against the Springboks.

The Springboks played their best match of this year's Tri-Nations campaign...and yet that still was not enough to keep the All Blacks from scoring two tries in the last 3 minutes from Richie McCaw and Isreal Dagg to eek out a thrilling win to regain the Tri-Nations trophy 29-22-spoiling Springbok captain John Smit's 100th cap for South Africa.

The only bad news for New Zealand is that fly-half Dan Carter is going to miss at least 8 weeks of play with ankle surgery after the gritty win in Soweto.(Did anybody in South Africa ever imagine a rugby match being played in Soweto 20 years ago?)

13 months out from the beginning of Rugby World Cup 2011, the All Blacks once again look like the team to beat. The Springboks played their best match of this Tri-Nations season, and that was not enough to keep Tony Woodcock (who did us props proud by poaching a nice try) and his mates from lifting the Tri-Nations trophy on South African soil.

The only bad news for New Zealand is that their fly-half and heart-throb of my daughter, Daniel Carter is going to need ankle surgery. But with the Tri Nations well in hand and the Super 15 season months away, it's a perfect time for the Kiwi #10 to get his ankle fixed.

You have to give the Kiwis credit. From their June International matches to the Tri-Nations matches, Graham Henry's men have looked formidable, to say the least. All Black Full back Mils Muliaina has found the fountain of youth and has been an MVP candidate for the All Blacks. Even wing Joe Rokocoko-who looked out of it last year for New Zealand, has found new life with inspired play this season for the All Blacks.

So, if you are an All Black fan, enjoy the Tri Nations triumph...but a part of you has to be waiting for the other shoe to drop next year in New Zealand. Time will tell.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Father of the Groom Speaks...

With my son's wedding this past weekend, and all of the preparation and out of town guests who came into town for the wedding, I just have not had much of a chance to blog.

The wedding of one of your kids is one of those watershed moments in your life, like your own marriage and birth of your children and grandchildren. There was a lot going through my head, as I reflected on Ian's birth at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas in 1987 and moved on to the steps in his life from infancy to toddlerhood, pre-school, school, elementary and high school.  (I keep seeing the little blond boy with the bowl-cut) I coached him in soccer as a kid. He went through some tough times growing up. He had migraines, gained weight because of the medicines that he was on. You cannot tell to look at him now, but as 10-12 year old, he was heavy and had to put up with a lot of grief from other kids because of his weight. He lost the weight, and over time became a very confident young man. He gained a great deal of maturity when he studied in Niigata, Japan for a year in high school. He did well in college at Rutgers University, then transferred from their to North Hennepin Community College and then to the University of Minnesota, where he just graduated with a degree in Asian Studies and Languages. 

Two years ago, he and his girlfriend Andrea had my grandson, Duncan. It was not a planned pregnancy, but they stuck together through thick and thin. When you don't have money and a young child, the stress can be enough to break up a relationship. In spite of everything, Ian and Andrea stuck together, and they decided to get married this past Saturday. There were well over a couple of hundred people at the wedding and the reception. A great time was had by all. We killed off all of the Shiraz, and Vinha Verde(a whole case) and 4 16 gallon kegs of beer. People had a good time, but nobody got stupid.

I've had a couple of days to process all of this, and I just have to say how proud I am of the man my son has become. He's smart, thoughtful, courteous, treats his wife well and is a patient father to Duncan.

They have now found an apartment in Saint Paul, where they will move in September. I am going to miss having Ian, Andrea and Duncan around on a day-to-day basis...but it is time for them to move on and become their own family unit.

A long time ago, somebody said that in parenthood, the idea of the job is to work yourself out of a job.  I think my wife(who looked smashing on Saturday) and I have done a good job of that.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Knocking the Rust Off...

Rodrigo, our former exchange student from Portugal got in on Wednesday night. He wanted to go for a run with Metropolis on Thursday night. While he was working out with the younger guys, I spent the better part of practice playing touch with 7 other Old Boys who are going to be going to Ruggerfest in Aspen, Colorado next month.

So I ran, and ran some more. I'm sure that my legs are going to be sore as hell on Friday, but after playing very, very little rugby in the past 14-15 months, it felt really, really good to be out there and seeing the guys.

I have to say that it was a simply perfect summer evening to get a run in and get some touches with the rugby ball. The worst of the humid weather had blown through, and it was just a very pleasant night to play.

One of the old boys playing tonight was Mike Clements. He has a hobby farm west of Minneapolis, where he has horses-and the most perfect rugby pitch you have ever seen. It's kind of a rugby version of " Field of Dreams." I decided to use one of the pictures I took last year at his farm for my blog heading.

This was a first step in getting back into some semblance of rugby-playing shape. I gotta say, I was really impressed with the level of conditioning that my fellow 40-something players had out there tonight. I can see I am going to need to really step up my interval training to go along with my weightlifting. (The above cartoon version of me was done by my son's friend Adam)

Aside from my leg stiffness, I feel pretty good. The proof of the pudding is going to be when I get out there and actually am hitting and being hit by people. was a fun evening, and a good start as I start on this journey to play at Ruggerfest.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Green Light to Play...

Making the decision to play with the Metropolis Old Boys at the Aspen Ruggerfest next month was a case of putting the cart before the horse. I probably should have gotten the green light from my cardiologist before purchasing my plane ticket to Colorado.

Today I got the confirmation that I needed from my Cardiologist. A couple months out from my ablation, I still have a normal sinus rhythm.  The doctor said that with that in mind, I do not need to be on the blood thinner, Coumadin(also known as Warfarin).

That was a pretty important step, because lets face it, rugby is a contact sport, and being on the blood thinner has kept from playing(minus a couple of chances to get a run in) for most of the past 15 months.

The hope is to get the Old Boys going to Aspen to show up for Thursday practices before the trip on 16-20 September. As luck would have it, I am off the next couple of Thursday evenings from work, so I can get to those practices. (There are also practices on Tuesdays)

There is a saying "Be careful what you wish for-it might happen." I am about to find that out in a very big way on Thursday. Some of the guys have already warned me that coach Augie is running everybody hard, and the practices have had a high level of intensity made even more intense with the heat and humidity of a Minnesota August added in, for good measure. I'll have some company. My former rugby-playing(fly half) exchange student, Rodrigo from Portugal, is going to be here for a couple of weeks, and expressed an interest in getting a run in at the Metropolis practices while he is here.

I've been biking, lifting weights and doing doing sprints...but on Thursday, my training is going to get dragged kicking and screaming to a whole different level with the blessing of my Cardiologist.

Thanks, Doc.