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Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Spare a Thought and Prayer for our Kiwi Rugby Friends....

Wellington, the Kiwi Capital suffered damage in the last quake
Back in 2011, my wife and I were fortunate enough to make it to New Zealand. I have been to some pretty amazing places, like France, Portugal, Scotland, Thailand and Australia, but I think New Zealand is the most beautiful country I have ever visited. My wife and I had the chance while we were in Nelson, on the South Island, to take a trip over to Able Tasman National Park. It was so beautiful, green, and lush with Turquoise half expected to see Adam and Eve stroll by you..
Flying low towards the South Island of New Zealand...breath taking

The thing when you are in a place that has mountains and great scenery-like New Zealand, Italy and where I live now in California- is that the beauty comes with a heavy duty price tag: Earthquakes. California has suffered from more than a couple of catastrophic earthquakes, and central Italy just got hit a few weeks ago. This past weekend, New Zealand got hit with a major 7.5 shaker that killed a couple of people, but also caused a great deal of damage to roads and infrastructure. Places where my wife and I had been on our trip, like Wellington, Lower Hutt, Nelson, and Picton all suffered damage from the earthquake and the multiple aftershocks.
Picton also suffered earthquake damage.

I mentioned briefly in my last posting on what a classy bunch of rugby fans Kiwis are-but to be honest with you, if you have ever had a chance to visit, or get to know Kiwis and Aussies, is that they are like a pack of golden retrievers. They are among the nicest people you will ever hope to meet. Thanks to being on the blogosphere, and my travels, I have been so lucky to befriend a great number of Kiwis. Right now after the quake, there are many people who have had their lives tipped upside down. With that in mind, spare thought, a prayer, or a dollar or two to the relief organization of your choice to help these amazing people out in their time of need.
Wishing the best to my Kiwi friends during this rough time....

Monday, November 7, 2016

Ireland Defeat the All Blacks in an Epic Match in Chicago 40-29

I always enjoy a trip to Chicago. I lived in the Chicago area from the time I was 10 until I was almost 15, and my wife, my kids and I lived in Chi-Town from 1992-1993. What's not to like? Deep dish pizza, Italian Roast Beef Sandwiches and the Chicago style hot dog.
The Chicago Deep Dish Pizza-a work of art!
Taking a picture with a green screen while wearing a green shirt-gives ghostly appearance.
Oh yeah, since AIG is based in Chicago and they give an awful lot of money to the New Zealand Rugby Union, it also means that Chicago has now hosted the All Blacks twice in the past couple of years. Two years ago, my buddy Tom Daniels and I were there to watch the All Blacks take on the USA Eagles which showed just how far behind the Kiwis we really are in rugby.
It was an Amazing atmosphere with the largest crowd to ever see a rugby match in the USA

Ireland was to put up a better match against the mighty men in Black, but not many people really gave the Irish much of a chance of actually beating the All Blacks. In 111 years of matches between these two nations, the Irish Men's top side had never beaten the All Blacks. I think most of us in the record breaking crowd of 64,000-the largest crowd to ever see a rugby match in the United States-really just wanted a competitive game. What we ended up witnessing was an epic piece of history as the Irish played an amazing first half of rugby. They controlled the ball, and took advantage of a 10 minute All Black sin bin to race off to a 25-8 half time lead. The Ireland forwards did an amazing job in the scrums, line outs and at the breakdown.
The Irish Forwards dominated in the Line outs, as well

Ireland would end up scoring the match clincher off this scrum deep in Kiwi territory
The crowd was buzzing at half time, but the Kiwis that were sitting near us were still pretty confident that the All Blacks had enough skill and power to over come the 17 point deficit.

In the second half, the All Blacks attacked the Irish with all they had-when they had the score to within 4 points, more than a few green clad fans thought that Irish hearts would be disappointed again. The Irish kept their composure and were able add a late try and then to hold on for a 40-29 win-their first ever-against the All Blacks. It's not often where the Kiwis get defeated in a match where they score 4 tries, but that was the case in this emotional match.

Even at the beginning, when the All Blacks did their Haka, the Irish formed themselves in a number 8 to pay homage to former Munster and Ireland great Anthony Foley, who recently passed away at the tender age of 42.  He wore the Munster jersey 200 times and was capped 62 times for Ireland.With all of the Munster players in the Irish line up, and what a respected player he was for Ireland, It was a very touching stand by the Irish as they faced the Haka.

The only thing that made witnessing this epic match even better, was that I was able to share this experience with my wife, my son Ian, my daughter Rachel, my friend Tom Daniels and my Grandson Duncan. He's only 8 years old, and I don't know how much of this game he will remember, but I know it will always stick with me.
My wife, my grandson, me, my son, my daughter and Tom fuel up before the game in Chicago
With my Grandson Duncan

With all of the fan support that came from all over the USA and all over the World, it just made for an unbelievable atmosphere. Of note, to show you how Rugby fans are just a cut above the rest, I had at least 8-9 All Black fans on Saturday walk up, shake my hand and say good game when they say me clad in my Ireland Jumper.(Scots-Irish DNA-along with some German and Swedish) It's hard to imagine any other sport or any other group of fans who would show as much class as the All Black fans, who did not whine or make excuses about missing players or calls made by the French Ref. This is what makes rugby so great.

Getting photo bombed by Tom-but the 40-29 score line is  no joke.
The Re-match in two weeks in Dublin should be very interesting, to say the least.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Countdown is on for New Zealand-Ireland in Chicago on November 5th

Plane tickets to Chicago: Check. Air BNB Lodging in Chicago: Check. Match tickets for the All Blacks taking on Ireland in Soldiers Field for me, my wife, my kids, my grandson and my buddy Tom Daniels. Check, Check, Check, Check, Check, and Check.
World Series back to Wrigley Field for the first time since 1945...

We have picked an interesting time to go to Chicago next week. For starters, the Chicago Cubs have made it to their first World Series in 71 years with a chance to win it for the first time since 1908.  Game 7 of the World Series-if it gets that far-would be on November second.  Either Chicago is going to be having a massive party, or the world's biggest Irish wake.

The name of the game on this trip will be rugby. The USA Eagles will take on the New Zealand Maori on Friday night as an appetizer, with the All Blacks taking on Ireland on Saturday afternoon from Soldiers Field.
The Silver fern is becoming as well known in the USA as it's Native New Zealand...

The All Blacks, the defending Rugby World Cup champs have been on a bit of a roll: 18 straight international wins and total dominance in the Rugby Championship, with 6 straight bonus point beat downs on South Africa, Argentina and Australia. With the November internationals starting up for teams from northern and southern hemisphere alike, more than a few people are wondering if the plucky Irish-who had a so-so Six Nations back in the early part of the year-will be nothing more than a green clad speed bump for the Men in Black.
Ireland may need some help from a higher place against the mighty All Blacks

It will be quite the spectacle, with Chicago having many people of Irish origin living in the City of Big Shoulders, and with the All Blacks looking to draw in Kiwis from all over the planet to converge on Chicago, just as so many did for the USA-All Blacks game at the same venue back in 2014. (Where the USA Eagles were on the receiving end of a thorough beat-down)
November, 2014 Soldiers Field. There will be a lot of Green and Black in Chicago next week...

Still, with a top flight international match being played in the USA and NBC Sports Channel showing the Top Flight of English Rugby on weekends, these are pretty heady times to be a rugby fan in the USA.

Very much looking forward to some rugby, deep dish pizza...and a Pint or two with my family and my very good friend.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Knee Surgery-Getting Old is NOT for Sissies.

2016 has proven to be a very frustrating year in terms of my health. I had knee surgery for a torn Meniscus on my right knee back in April. I missed 6 weeks of work and it really put my fitness behind the 8 ball, as it made aerobic work difficult, to say the least. The original injury was from warming up before a Metropolis RFC rugby practice about 9 years ago, when I stepped into a hole while doing some warm up laps. I lived with it for a long time, and finally decided to get the knee worked on, as it was starting to catch on me.
As Harrison Ford said, "It's not the years-it's the mileage"

Well, I had so much fun getting meniscus repair on my right knee, I somehow managed to tear my meniscus and some cartilage on my good, or LEFT knee. I did it while I was recovering from the first knee surgery. It made for a crappy summer and put a major crimp in my training. The knee discomfort forced me to miss Sharkapalooza in New Port Beach, which a a super fun old boys tournament down in Newport Beach, California every August. I have played there with Pasadena RFC and with Huntington Beach. 

Not being able to play any old Boys rugby has been very depressing, to say the least. The knee discomfort has made me feel every one of my 55 (soon to be 56) years. 

Difficulty doing leg training has also made it hard to train for over 50 highland games events. I had to  bow out of throwing in this past weekend's Seaside Highland Games in Ventura, California. I had a really good time competing there back two years ago.
This picture of me wiping out in the hammer throw two years ago sums up my 2016.

I had my left knee meniscus repair a little over two weeks ago, and I am just hoping that I can get back into the swing of things and do a couple of the things that I really enjoy-the camaraderie in rugby and Highland Games sport is pretty hard to beat.'s nice to have a carrot on the stick for me to give me a good reason to keep going to the gym. I have been able to do upper body training, but if you are going to play prop or throw heavy objects, you gotta have a good base to work with, so I am hoping I can get my legs doing better to get back to doing what I love. 

Indeed, Old age is NOT for sissies...

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

The USA Eagles Beat Russia 25-0 on Todd Clever's Special Evening in Sacramento.

I've lived here in Los Angeles for 4 years now. In that time, I had not had a chance to make the 5.5 hour drive to Sacramento-California's State Capital. This past weekend, with the USA Eagle's scheduled to take on the Russians in Sac-Town, my buddy Tom and I thought that this would be a good time to play road warriors to check out some Sacramento Micro-brews and get a rugby fix all at the same time.
Beer and Rugby on a Saturday-stopping at Sac Town Union Brewery...
Tom and I sample the product at Tank 7 Brewery in Sacramento.
Sacramento, California is very inland. It's almost halfway between San Francisco and Reno, Nevada on Interstate 80. As it sits on a plain, it was a very warm Saturday, indeed-about 93 degrees when driving up. The initial start of the USA-Russia game was 5 pm, but luckily they moved the kickoff to 7 PM.
USA-Russia for the National Anthems at Bonney Field in Sacramento, California
 This was my first international game since last October's Rugby World Cup, and my first USA Eagle's game since seeing the USA-New Zealand game in Chicago in 2014. (Oh yeah, we have our Tix for the Ireland-All Blacks in October this November, which will also be played at Soldiers Field)

The Russians may not be the All Blacks in terms of notoriety for the casual American rugby fan, but Saturday's game would mark Todd Clever's 68th cap in a USA shirt-eclipsing former Eagle Prop Mike McDonald as the all time leading cap leader of USA Men's rugby.
#6 Todd Clever-the New Record Holder for USMNT appearances with 68 caps.
And Since the former USA Captain and the long time face of American Rugby  is from California, having this match in Sacramento seemed to be a match made in heaven. 

The Americans dominated the game pretty much from start to finish-The Russians really had very few chances inside the American 22. The 25-0 scoreline belies the dominance that the Yanks
showed in Sac-Town on Saturday. The Eagles had chances for at least 3 clear tries(Two by Clever). AJ McGinty showed again just what a fantastic addition he has been to the Eagles with some great kicking at goal(5 penalty goals and a conversion on a try)
McGinty makes it 9-0 in the first half with the 3rd of his 5 penalty goals.
, as well as a decisive pass that would spring Mike T'eo for the only try of the game in the second half.
Theo's Try in the Second half

The heat became a massive factor on play in the second half, and both coaches pretty much emptied 

their benches.  

After the tough loss to Italy last weekend, which would have been a big win against a Six Nations side, this was still a good way to finish the summer international schedule for the Eagles, whose next game will be in Chicago the same weekend in November as the Ireland-New Zealand game, when the Eagles will take on the Maoris at Toyota Stadium in Bridgeview, Illinois. 

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Racing Metro Sees Red and Beats Toulon 29-21 in Barcelona

With all of the big French stadia being used by the Euro 2016 for soccer this month,  French Rugby had to find a different large venue to welcome the Top 14 final, and they found quite the large venue in the Nou Camp in Barcelona, Spain. (Still a pretty easy drive from Southwest France)
The Camp Nou in Barcelona-an unusual venue for the French Top 14 Final

This year's final for French club supremacy came down to Toulon against Racing Metro 92 from Paris. Racing is a club that has always had a little bit of extra sartorial panache`, having had a history of many years ago of coming out wearing pink bow ties(The Racing players for this game wore Pink Bow Ties stuffed in their socks). For the final against Toulon, the Parisians came out with blazers over their jerseys...
Racing also winning on the style points....

At Stake, was Le Bouclier de Brennus-Brennus' Shield-the holy grail of French Rugby. The last time Racing had won the title was back in 1990. I have watched a few finals, but don't think I have ever seen two nice looking, barely clad women coming out with the trophy...
Great lines and well built...the Bouclier de Brennus looked impressive, too
Toulon, clad in Red, did a lot of the early hard running and seemed to be taking the early advantage against Dan Carter and his Racing mates....

The match looked ready to turn permanently in favor of Toulon when Maxime Machenaud got red carded in the 18th minute for a dangerous tackle on Aussie Fly Half Matt Giteau..It was a tough call, partially because of how Giteau fell, but by the letter of the law, I think it was a difficult, but correct call by Monsieur Raynal. Toulon would take a a 6-3 lead, and the idea of Racing trying to stay with formidable team from the Var looked grim, indeed.
Matt Giteau gets planted-Racing would have to play a man down after the ensuing red card.
Leigh Halfpenny's boot had Racing up 9-3, then a try by the Georgian Gorgodze had Toulon up 14-6. It was not looking good for the Parisians. 

Racing had an ace up their sleeve wearing the number 10 shirt. Fans of Canterbury, the Crusaders, and the All Blacks have become  used to the man from South Bridge on the South Island of New Zealand performing heroics in rugby games for several years now, including las October's World Cup win by the All Blacks in England.  Dan Carter had a brief spell years ago with Perpignan in France that was cut short by an Achilles heel injury. In returning to France, he felt he had something to prove. All Dan Carter did was provide calm at the number 10 shirt, and make masterful decisions on distribution of the ball and accurate tactical kicking and kicking at goal. He would score 8 Penalties, and a another Kiwi, Joe Rokocoko, would do a lovely chipped kick that he picked up on the run and planted the ball down for a Racing Try. Dan Carter would be voted Man of the Match for his Mastro's touch for the 29-21 victory for the Parisians-in spite of playing well over half the match down a man against a very, very good side.  It was a great game of rugby played out at the Camp Nou stadium. Well over 80,000 fans got to see just how dramatic the game of rugby can be. 
Man of the match: Dan Carter

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Happy 29th Birthday to the Best Son and Rugby Teammate a Dad Could Ever Ask For...

At a rugby tournament in Saint Louis in 2007
Team Mates with Metropolis RFC, Minneapolis, fall  2006. 

It's hard to believe that 29 years ago today, my son Ian Thomas Adams was born weighing 9 pounds and one half oz at Wilford Hall Medical Center at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas.  Both my wife and I were in the United States Air Force at the time. My good French friend Bernard Masse`, had come to Texas for about a week and a half for his birth-the little guy did not want to come out while he was with us.
41+ weeks...Ian just did not want to leave his Womb with a view....
Ian waited until the day after Bernard left to make his entrance into this world on June 12th, 1987.

He was a really well-tempered baby and toddler. He walked at 9 months-and let me tell you, the early walking baby is not all it is cracked up to be. But he loved water and physical play.

When Ian was in Elementary school, I had a chance to coach him in soccer for a few seasons and I would also go to his and his sister's school and show the kids how to do touch rugby.

When Ian was 3 and a half, we had his sister Rachel. I know that brothers and sisters can fight sometimes, but when they were elementary school age, I was worried if they would ever get along-at all.

Ian and Rachel

When Ian was 15 and Rachel was 12, Ian went to Niigata, Japan for a year as an AFS exchange student. Rachel spent 5 months with my Aunt Kay and her Partner Wendy in Darwin, Australia. After a few months apart from each other, Ian reached out to his sister and wrote a letter saying to the effect that they should be friends. Both Ian and Rachel grew up a lot from that experience. In Ian's case, I sent a 15 year old kid to Japan and and got a young man when he came back-he had grown and changed his hair style. He changed so much that when he came back to Minnesota, I walked right past him in the airport-I did not recognize him until he saw us and gave us all a big hug.

While Ian was in High School, he played soccer, wrestled, swam and played lacrosse. When he graduated from Robbinsdale Cooper High School in 2005, his final two college choices were between  Rutgers University in New Jersey and Portland State University in Oregon.  He chose Rutgers. While  at Rutgers, His  South African born roommate was a player with the Rutgers University RFC -and also on the USA Under 19 Eagles. Ian had an excellent Freshman year at Rutgers, but the out of state tuition was really expensive. After his Freshman year, he came back to Minnesota. (Later graduating from the University of Minnesota)

At the time when Ian came back, I had my mid life crisis and started playing rugby with the Metropolis RFC in Minneapolis. We were able to play two seasons together with Metropolis. I cannot tell you how much of thrill it was to not just play rugby and be on the field at the same time as my son-but I grew to admire the young man he had become. When he became a father in his own right to my grandson, Duncan, I marveled at what a patient and good father he is. 
Ian and his son Duncan from 2011.

So on this day, I want to share with you, dear reader, just how proud his sister, his mom and I are of Ian. 29 years...I cannot believe I am old enough to have a son who is 29.  Not only has it been great being his dad and being his rugby team mate for a couple of seasons, but after this season, my daughter took the plunge and started playing rugby. I am so proud of both of my kids, that I could just bust my buttons. 
Ian, me, my wife and my daughter Rachel. April 2016.

Love you son. Have a very happy 29th Birthday.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

2015 Indiginous Australian USA Tour Wrap.(Better Late Than Never)

Back in the fall, I had written about a planned rugby tour in the USA by Darrell Morris and his Indigenous Australian Invitational Rugby side (IAIR)that would share their Australian Aboriginal culture and love of rugby with Americans. The tour did take place and was very successful for all parties involved. I was simply slow getting pictures downloaded.

The rugby tour, which involved 6 matches played against the University of New Mexico, the University of Arizona, San Diego State, Long Beach State, The Gallup RFC, and the Griffins Rep team. The tourists from down under went 5-1, losing only the the Griffins in their last game. ("We were Injury ravaged in that game", recalled Morris.
The Zia Symbol on the New Mexico State Flag.
Perhaps the highlight of the trip was a match played in the snow in Gallup, New Mexico.
The tourists, in the red, got to see and play in snow for the first time in Gallup, New Mexico

For the Tourists from Down Under, this was their first time seeing snow. Timaris Montano, the force of nature involved with the Gallup RFC reported "They loved it! It felt like a dream when the big flakes were falling down. Some of the men on the sideline rolled around in it." Many of the players are from Queensland-an area better known for heat, humidity and crocodiles, so this was clearly the coldest conditions they had ever played in. 

While in the Navajo Nation, the Australians were able to visit Monument Valley National Park, stayed at Kayenta High School's Gym, as well as the Gallup Community Pantry and the tourists all did two hours of Community service. They also had a chance to eat Navajo Tacos and grilled Mutton. 

The Australians brought their rugby road show of 28 players and 6 support staff to California. I was able to meet Darrell
Getting a chance to meet Darrell Morris, on the right

and his players when they played the Cal State Long Beach RFC on a sun splashed Saturday. By this point of the tour, some of the players where coming down with upper respiratory symptoms, as well as some nicks and injuries. That did not prevent them from beating Long Beach in a very spirited game with lots of ball in hand and very open play.
Australians break away for a try in the first half.

Line out between IAIR and Cal State Long Beach

Hand shakes all around after a clean, hard-fought game between Long Beach state and the IAIR squad.

Darrell Morris told me that  one surprise on the US tour was "the level of rugby was a lot higher than I thought it would be. It's culture has been indebted into the US sports culture." (I.E post match
functions, etc) 

Darrell is currently in the process of putting an IAIR side together to take to Canada in 2018. 
The Wombat Mascot for the IAIR looking forward to  Making it to Canada in 2018...

I was very happy that Darrell and his players were able to meet up with a Native American side, and that Chee and Timaris Montano moved heaven and earth to make the match happen in New Mexico. I was also happy that connections of my connections helped put together matches for the Australians. To think that this entire trip started with a simple e-mail that I received from Darrell. I know there can be some problems with the internet and social media for some people, but in this case, the internet allowed a great experience for both hosts and tourists in the name of the oval ball. 

Most of the time when you hear news stories about Native Americans and Indigenous Australians, it's usually bad news. This trip and the rugby games on the 2015 tour brought some much-needed positive news on both sides of the pacific.