Search This Blog

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Good, the Bad and The Ugly From Albuquerque...

My wife and I were invited to join the Abluquerque Aardvarks for their Hall of Fame and Awards dinner this past weekend. Upon stewing about it today, I would like to submit my Good/Bad/Ugly list from this Past Weekend...

The Good:
The Aardvarks Awards Dinner- A really nice bunch of guys. My wife and I had a great time.
Piñon nuts-I had seen vendors selling them at the roadside on Highway 550 between Farmington and Albuquerque. I tried some for the first time this weekend. Piñon nuts are DELICIOUS. They melt in your mouth like butter. They are addictive, and they also are great added to a variety of recipes.(Like the Ice cream we had in Albuquerque)
In front of The Shipwreck
Scenery- I have been here in New Mexico a little over a month, and I never get tired of the natural beauty when I drive around this state...

The Bad-The only bad part was that the weekend passed by too quickly.
The Ugly- Drunk driving.

Here in New Mexico, there is one really, really ugly thing; and that is the amount of drunk driving. Highway 550 connects Northwest New Mexico with Albuquerque, and the thing that leaps out at me are the amount of mini-monuments that you see every few miles when you drive on this road for people who have died in accidents-most of them Alcohol related. It's a topic that dominates the news here in New Mexico, and even in conversation among my co-workers at the Navajo Medical Center in Shiprock. I know they are trying to do something about it here in New Mexico, but the carnage is very real, and very ugly, indeed.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Rugby, Social Media and Getting Tracked Down in New Mexico

A few weeks back, I mentioned that I had used Facebook to get info on where to find a rugby-friendly bar in Albuquerque, New Mexico-since I could not find any type of rugby here in Farmington and the Four Corners area.

It seems that I was mistaken-there IS rugby here in the Four Corners region.

A guy named Chee found my posting and used Facebook to contact me to inform me that there is, indeed a rugby club here in the Four Corners region: The San Juan Silverbacks. (San Juan is the county here in this part of Northwest New Mexico)  The club has been kind of on-again and off-again trying to get players. Chee told me that there were guys getting together to play some touch rugby as training before they start up practice for real. I dragged my sore,  51 year old legs out and had fun playing some touch rugby. Yeah, my right knee has been bitching to me about going for a run (or as close as I can) on the rugby pitch...but man, was it fun.

Chalk one up for social media.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

What to Make of Dan Parks Calling it Quits?

If any rugby parent wanted to use Dan Parks as an example of dusting yourself off and getting back into the fray after a bad match will be disappointed that the often maligned fly half for Scotland decided to put an end to his international career-effective immediately after Scotland's 13-6 loss to England. He helped put 11 points on the board in his last appearance for Scotland-6 for Scotland...
and 5 for England after his attempted clearance kick got charged down and scored by England's Charlie Hodgson.

I know I have given Parks some stick from time to time in this blog, but I have to admit that even I was surprised that he called it quits after the disappointing loss to the Auld Enemy at Murrayfield.

If you are a Cardiff Blues Fan, you have to have mixed feelings about the fact that Parks is concentrating all of his energy to playing for Cardiff.

Parks wore the Thistle-etched jumper for Scotland 67 times. An impressive number in the modern game. It's too bad that his last game for Scotland may be the one that people remember.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Six Nations Nostalgia: Review of the France Jersey

For those of you who have visited my blog with any level of frequency, you know that, in spite of my Swedish, German, English, Scottish and Irish ancestry, France and French rugby both have a very special place in my heart. The very first rugby game I ever saw on TV was Wales-France from the old Cardiff Arms Park. When I heard 50,000 Welshmen singing their national anthem-in Welsh-it gave me goose gumps. When I saw the ball movement and the physicality of the sport(As evidenced by this clip from that match of Serge Blanco's try), I was taken hook, line and sinker.

This Six Nations season marks 30 years ago that I was smitten by this sport. A lot has changed with the game: The players are professional, tries are worth 5 points, the players are much bigger, faster and stronger.(Compare the size of the players in this clip to those who played this past weekend.)

The rugby jersey has evolved a great deal too(Does ANYBODY wear a collar with their jersey anymore?). Of the Six Nations sides, France has probably changed their jersey style and sponsorship more than any of the other sides. Some teams might experiment with different colors of their secondary or third jersey.(Like England experimenting with purple a couple of years ago, and black in the last Rugby World Cup), but the French seem to change rugby jersey designs more than a model for Yves St-Laurent prepping for the runway.

I think the people at Nike have a winner with this design for the home French Rugby Jersey that people first saw at this past Rugby World Cup.
 When you have a prop shaped physique like me, you are always a little nervous about how these new rugby jersey designs are going to look on you. ( I still have nightmares about Australian prop Matt Dunning wearing that form-fitting bright gold Wallaby jumper during the 2007 Rugby World Cup) The Jersey fit my shoulders perfectly, but was forgiving without being baggy in the middle. It's a strong, but really lightweight fabric. My wife-a blunt critic about what I wear-gave the jersey very high marks in it's style and how it looked on me.
The jersey has familiar red shield with Le Coq Gaullois and the FFR(The French Acronym for Fédération du Rugby Français, or French Rugby Federation) over the heart.

Here in the US, you can't find this jersey, but you can get it through

I can hardly wait to wear this new shirt when I go back to Albuquerque to watch some  6 Nations rugby with some of my new friends with the Aardvarks and Brujos.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Six Nations: Of Brujos, Gecko's and Aardvarks

Da Red-Head in front of Gecko's
As much as I have enjoyed living and working in the Northwest corner of New Mexico,  rugby is a hard thing to come by. I contacted an Irish place in Farmington, and when I asked if they carried rugby or Soccer on Saturday mornings, I had a frosty negative response. With the Six Nations starting this weekend, I just had to find SOMEPLACE where I could get my oval ball fix.

I knew there were two rugby clubs in Albuquerque: The Brujos(Spanish for warlock, or Wizard) and Aardvarks I contacted the Brujos via their Facebook page and asked if they knew of a rugby friendly bar, and I got an immediate response with a couple of suggestions. More than a couple of people mentioned that "Gecko's" was owned by an ex-rugger and they showed matches frequently.

Since I was working during the day on Friday, my wife contacted Wally, the owner of Gecko's and verified that he was going to show the match carried in the US by BBC America.

We drove the 3 hours from Farmington to Albuquerque on Friday night. There are two Gecko's in Albuquerque, and as luck would have it, our hotel was less then 5 minutes from the one that was showing Scotland and England.

It never ceases to amaze me how many nice people are involved with the sport of rugby.  Wally, the owner of Gecko's gave me and my wife a very warm New Mexico welcome and introduced me to his fellow Aardvark mates. While devouring excellent breakfast burritos, sucking down some micro-brews and watching England beat Scotland 13-6, I enjoyed the company and conversation of just a very congenial group of ex-ruggers who helped develop the game of rugby in New Mexico.

Flanked by Ray, Wally and Tony at Gecko's

I spent a great deal of time speaking with Marty, who was just an encyclopedic resource on rugby in New Mexico, the Rocky Mountains, the West Coast and the Midwest.(This is a guy who travels more than even I do)

It was great to watch Scotland and England, but meeting people who are involved with this sport make me proud to be a rugby fan. Finding a place with a great beer selection that serves great food and supports rugby was just a treat. I cannot thank the Albuquerque rugby community enough for a very fun Saturday.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Six Nations 2012: Revenge is a Dish Best Served Cold...

With the Six Nations starting this weekend, I know a lot of eyes will be looking at Scotland-England, but it's a pretty safe bet that more than a few French players have had Saturday's match with Italy at the Stade de France circled since France's stunning loss to Italy in Rome in the Six Nations. After the match, former French coach Marc Lievremont made an example out of more than a couple of players-it pretty much spelled the end of Sebastien Chabal's international career with France.

For France, this will be Phillippe St-Andre's first match in charge for a Six Nations match. A great player for France in the 1995 Rugby World Cup, it will be interesting to see how he handles the hot seat while in charge of Les Bleus. France will have a strong Clermont/Toulouse flavor: 13 of the 22 selected for Saturday's game ply their trade in Clermont or Toulouse. (No shock there, since those two clubs are France's two quarter-finalists in the Heineken Cup)

It has been said that revenge is a dish best served cold. Italy will find out in St-Denis this Saturday. Buon Appetito.