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Monday, March 28, 2011

A Plug for Japan Aid... knows that a lot of people are opening up their wallets to try to help the people of North East Honshu in their post-tsunami/earthquake/radiation threat time of need.

I try to keep this site more rugby centric, but Japan and Japanese culture have touched our family in a big way, as we hosted an AFS exchange student from Nagoya years ago, my son was an exchange student in Niigata for a year(Ian also graduated with his degree in Asian Studies/Japanese this past year) and my family has all done a Japanese Martial art called Aikido. The images of the destruction and stoic endurance of the Japanese touch me a great deal. 

My son Ian came up with a design for a shirt that he wants sell with proceeds going to Japanese relief...

Here is his web site:

Sunday, March 27, 2011

A Rugby Player Dies. They Remove the Goalposts...WTF??

A recent tragic story to strike the rugby community in the United States took a very strange turn after 17 year old Matthew Hammerdorfer collapsed and died during a rugby match in Colorado. I submit Exhibit A to you, dear reader. Read this article, and then ask yourself if this type of thing could happen in ANY other country but the USA, where lawsuits, and fear of lawsuits have a chilling effect on our quality of life.

Goal Posts To Go After Player's Death

Written by Tyler Lopez, 7News Reporter
POSTED: March 16, 2011

TIMNATH, Colo. -- Officials in Timnath don't want anyone else playing 
rugby on the field where a teen player collapsed and later died. Town 
council members have voted to remove the field's goal posts.

The mayor told 7NEWS the move was partly motivated by liability concerns 
and slow emergency response times.

The small but growing northern Colorado town only has a volunteer 
firefighting station that's usually unstaffed.

Matthew Hammerdorfer, a 17-year-old junior at Poudre High School, 
collapsed during a rugby game in Timnath on March 5.
Witnesses said he took a hit on the field, fell down and didn't get up.

"We got reports that the victim was in seizure at some point before and 
during our response," said Patrick Love, spokesman for the Poudre Fire 

Hammerdorfer was flown to Medical Center of the Rockies, where he later 

Larimer County Deputy Coroner Kari Jones said Hammerdorfer died from 
complications of a congenital heart condition.

The autopsy listed the cause of death as sudden cardiac arrest due to 
cardiomegaly and biventricular hypertrophy. The coroner’s office 
explained to ABC News that cardiomegaly refers to an enlarged heart and 
biventricular hypertrophy refers to enlarged ventricles.

Hammerdorfer suffered from both as a result of being born with a heart 
defect called tetralogy of fallot, for which he had surgery at age 8, 
the coroner's office said.

Interim town manager Sherri Wagner said the rugby league that uses the 
field never signed an insurance waiver to use it.
She said officials didn't even know a game was happening, the day the 
teen collapsed.

"It's typical of our litigious society. To a degree it dishonors his 
(Matt's) memory. The timing is pretty disingenuous," said Matthew's 
father Carl Hammerdorfer."Nothing frustrates me more than when managers 
let lawyers run things. A good manager knows how to make decisions in 
the gray area. That's where this is."

"I'm not happy about it," said Coach Greg Chvatal of Ft. Collins Youth 
Rugby. "I definitely think it's an over-reaction by the city. I mean, I 
think this is ridiculous that they want to tear everything down."

Chvatal vowed to find a place for Matthew's teammates to keep playing, 
but said he wasn't sure where that would be.
He also admitted he did not turn in the paperwork, including the 
liability waiver, requested by Timnath leaders.

"The medical situation was not a result of playing out there. It just 
brought it to our attention," said Mayor Jill Grossman-Belisle. "We just 
don't have the manpower to monitor that field on a regular basis."

The mayor said that while the developer gave the town the field, and the 
goal posts in 2009, administrators didn't expect to get stuck paying to 
maintain and water it.

"Nobody knows what activities are taking place out there. And for us to 
sponsor that with $43,000 a year just doesn't seem very fiduciarily 
responsible," Grossman-Belisle said, adding that the town is closing in 
on a master development plan. "Anything to do with that park probably 
would not even take place for the next 3-5 years."

Monday, March 21, 2011

RWC 2011: It's Official-No Games in Christchurch

It has been too long since my last posting. So much has happened in the past month...Christchurch has been burying its dead, US/French/British planes have been strafing Colonel Khadaffi's strongholds in Libya, continued strife and protests in the Arab world, and the horrific tsunami that struck the northeast part of the Japanese Island of Honshu on March 11th...

To be really honest, it has been tough to put myself in a mood to talk about rugby. It has not been for lack of effort on my part. I watched the Six Nations on TV and have been to numerous Dallas Harlequins games here in the Dallas area. The great thing about rugby is that even if you come to a new town, if you find rugby players and fans, you have an instant group of people with whom one can socialize.

Last week, the organizers for the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand announced that it's official: All of the games in Christchurch will have to be moved. They are not sure where the games will go, but between damage to hotels, roads,  and stadium, it is just too much to ask that things would be ready in Christchurch to welcome all of the visitors who had been anticipated.

I am really, really sad about this development. I think this just rubs salt into the wounds of the people of Christchurch-I respect that the decision had to be made, but for the Canterbury region to miss out is just a crying shame.

I have tickets to Australia-Russia, which was to have been played in Christchurch. I am very curious which city will get the match now. I still have not made my travel plans yet-I am still trying to put together money for airfare for my wife and I to go. I would still like to make it to Christchurch, if nothing on the principle that the best foreign aid that I can give to New Zealand is to make it to Christchurch and have a few meals and beers.

As tough as it is to watch what is going on in the world,  I thank God that I can still watch rugby and hang out with people who enjoy the sport. It never ceases to amaze me of what a well-read, well-traveled and interesting group of people it is.  Rugby is a balm for the soul even in the worst of times.