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Saturday, January 26, 2013

Two Weeks Until the IRB Las Vegas Sevens

I have been to two IRB Rugby World Cups, but I have yet to catch any of the IRB Sevens Series. That is about to change, as in two weeks from today, my friend Tom Daniels and I will be soaking in the rugby and the social seen in the stands that make up the series.

We got tickets for the Saturday and Sunday sessions. I work until 4:30 PM on Friday. My wife will have to pick me up at work, then we need to do our 4 hour drive from LA to Las Vegas. Well, it's normally a 4 hour drive, but traffic can be very heavy on Friday afternoons on the I-15 heading to Vegas. There is nothing more surreal than being in the middle of the desert, but stuck in a massive traffic jam as if you were on the Santa Monica Freeway.

Tom's wife could care a toss about the rugby-so while Tom and I are watching rugby, his wife Linda and my wife can shop or do spa treatments.

I had always been curious to stay at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas, so we were able to reserve rooms in a place more people remember from the Rat Pack's hangout... and where Motorcycle jumper Evel Kneivel bit asphalt back in 1967. It's a big of old Vegas that is still around on the strip.

Really looking forward to watching rugby, meeting fans from all over the world-and just plain having a good time. If you are going to be in Las Vegas during that weekend of February 8-10, drop me a line. I have been lucky enough to meet some other rugby bloggers in Europe and New Zealand, and would be happy to meet more rugby fans from the blogosphere.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

A Full Saturday:Pasadena's Win, USA Rugby's Summit, and Catching Up with Friends...

It was quite a rugby weekend here in my neck of the woods in Southern California.

My new rugby home, Pasadena hosted the South Bay Rugby Club. The Rhino's roster is loaded with players of Pacific Island origin.  It would be a contrast of their size and physicality against the speed and fitness of Pasadena.  Pasadena would score an early try...
The only try Pasadena would score-but it was enough

Pasadena attempts to steal a South Bay throw in.
Pasadena's kicking game did a good job of keeping the Rhino's pinned in their own half, as well as scoring 6 points off of penalties. It was a very nervy and tactical game in the second half. South Bay was able to score a try to make it 13-5. South Bay had one man sin-binned for dangerous play(and really should have had a second player yellow carded for a dangerous tackle)
Another Rhino infraction penalized...

In the end, Pasadena's fitness and discipline in avoiding needless penalties was enough to hold onto the hard fought 13-5 win in a match that was played in simply pristine, 70+ degree, windless conditions in Pasadena.

USA Rugby had it's National Development Summit in Costa Mesa, California down in Orange County. It's a conference that touched on a myriad of subjects, from coaching, to player safety, and getting the sport out to younger kids in the USA. It also gave vendors a chance to showcase their wares, like some of these scrum sleds...
I had a little old home time by running into Chris Babiash. I first met Chris 7 years ago, during my first year with the Metropolis RFC back home in Minneapolis. I played with him back at the Aspen Ruggerfest in 2010, and two years ago in Minneapolis, when the Old Laurentians came to Minnesota, and we had an Old Boys game. He is a very busy man working for Rugby Athletic and working hand in hand with USA Rugby. He has a young family, but his work is keeping him on the road quite a bit this year: L.A, Houston and Las Vegas in the early part of this year. It was great to talk with Chris and catch up with news about his family, Metropolis, Rugby Athletic and USA Rugby. In spite of him being a die-hard Green Bay Packer fan, he's a good guy. I admire what he did while president of Metropolis RFC(he was part of the group that suggested Metropolis start fielding two full time teams), and just being very a supportive to a 45 year old guy wanting to play rugby when I first joined Metropolis 7 years ago.

 It was just great to catch up friends like Timaris Montano, who along with her husband Chee, are preaching the gospel of the Oval Ball to kids in Gallup, New Mexico. Along with being active parents of their own kids, they reach and help an awful lot of young people that goes beyond teaching scrum and rucking skills. (Her family still wonders what ever became of the white guy who got his car stuck in the ditch trying to find her daughter's Kinaalda Ceremony, signaling her arrival to Navajo womanhood)
Timaris Montano, Rugby Apostle in Gallup, New Mexico.
Timaris, my wife (AKA 'Da Redhead') and I had fine late evening talking about our families and what is going on getting kids playing rugby in western New Mexico.  Timaris and her Husband Chee are just  wonderful people-like a lot of people involved with rugby.

I started my Saturday watching some hard-fought rugby, while getting to know some very nice people with my new club, and ended my Saturday still talking rugby with some first-class people. All in all, it was a Saturday well-spent.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Alive and Well and Playing Rugby in Southern California-Albeit, a Bit Sore.

Since moving out here to LA 7 months ago, I have not been doing as good of a job keeping up with my blog. It's not that there are not things going on in the world of the oval ball, I just have been very remiss is sitting down and blogging.

Back in August, I played with the Pasadena Old Boys at an over-40 tournament in Newport Beach. It was a good time, and I was looking forward to playing with them this weekend. The plan was there to be an A squad, B Squad and an old boys game when Huntington Beach drove out to Pasadena. Well, the Old Boys game got cancelled, and the B squad needed some help at prop, so guess who volunteered to play?

I was a bit concerned, as for the past two months, I have been lifting weights, but very little cardio, and the holiday season, and quite a few California micro-brews plumped me up from 213 pounds to 225 pounds. Oh well, compared to B squad props for Huntington Beach, I looked like a swimsuit model, so it was OK.

I really was not sure how many minutes I could play. I'm 52 now, and most of my new mates out on the pitch looked a whole lot younger, but I gave it my best shot. I told the coach I would try to give him a half.

I ended up playing 70 minutes. I have to admit that I have played better, but at least I felt that I was able to hold my own in the scrums -although the toughest thing was getting used to the new "Crouch, touch, set" cadence after the last 6 years of "Crouch, touch, pause, engage."(The ref also needed to speak up, a lot of us in the front row had a hard time understanding him)and had no troubles with the line-outs.
(it helps when you are lifting a guy who is really young and trim)

I think the other thing that helped me last 70 minutes was that my young, fit teammates on Pasadena's B squad ran like unchained Salukis against Huntington Beach, scoring several tries. (for the record, the A squad won their match 31-12) While sucking in some much-needed air after I came off the pitch, I grabbed my camera to take a shot of the scoreboard-a minute too early, as we ended up adding a late try to make it 70-0.

Today, Sunday, I have some muscle soreness, some cuts on my face, but otherwise feel pretty good. Oddly enough, the part of my body complaining the most today are my feet and heels from running on the hard, fast track in Pasadena.

It's shaping up to be a busy next month. I have friends from out of town coming to California for a large USA Rugby developmental conference next weekend. I have tickets for my friend Tom Daniels and me to go to Las Vegas next month for the Las Vegas Sevens competition. (We'll be staying in Caesars while in Vegas, so if you happen to be there, look me up) I promise to try to do a more regular job of blogging.