21 June 2005

Dear Rugby Buddies,

I know our special day has come and passed, but I recieved a special Father's Day gift that I wanted to share with my best rugby friends. Yesterday morning my son came to wake me nice and early for my special day. I do believe it was in the neighborhood of 5:50 AM! His gift was a large 1st grade homemade card with accompanying class-made gift certificates (very cute). The gift certificates entitle me to several adventures with my son: 3 games of bowling, playing poker with him for 2 hours or more and taking him to the park for at least 2 hours of crazy park merryment! The last gift cirtificate was the crown jewel. I have been given one full day with him at the rugby event of my choosing. A free pass for 24 hours of rugby. I know that it does not mean 24 hours, but he did say one full day! I think I should hold him to it - it is a fine time to learn the meaning of a binding contract.

So, now the big decision is - how to use my 24 hours of rugby? Seven's tournament? Too old for that now. Maybe, just break up those 24 hours into small 15's matches. Stop the presses! I know what to do: I am going to see the Eagles play. Wait, stop the presses again! They have already played their one domestic home game for the year and badly, at that. Since that match, I have been brainstorming this rant to bash the you know what about the Eagles and then they go and almost upset the Pumas. I did not see the match, so it is going to be hard to comment on the up and down nature of their play. Also, before you rush to send your "Pat hates the Eagles" reply, please keep in mind that my comments and my feelings are 100% pro-US Rugby. I just want to see them perform better on a national stage, especially when they have a home game!

For starters, I was a bit surprised at the small turnout for the game. I believe that the attendance was just under 9000. When the US played S. Africa in Texas, the attendance was almost double. What I can not get is this: the Northeast has more rugby players then ANY other Union and if you compare the physical size of the Unions, the NE has the highest concentration BY FAR of players. It should be a no-brainer that they would have the highest attendance. Of course the turnout had nothing to do with the lackluster play of your national team, so let's move on.

I have no problem with the Eagles losing to Wales. 95 out of 100 times we should lose to them. We do not have the skills to keep with a 100% professional team. However, I am disappointed that the Eagles were physically pummelled. NO team in the world should beat us physically. Here is a small example that the everyday player can compare to; In the past I frequently played against military teams. Thanks to cut-backs the bases are closing faster then military players can run, but I digress. Playing these teams was always fun for three reasons; They always had good skills, but with ever changing teams due to deployment, their continuity of play was always lacking, so more often than not, we would win. 2nd they were always fit and could always knock the snot right out of you. A blow out with a military team was never in the cards. Lastly, they always hosted a great social. So when you look at the Eagles vs. professional teams, I would always expect the US to be lacking when it comes to skills and continuity, but I would bet my house, wife, and kids that we could stand up and even physically out match our opponents. I have been following the team for almost 20 years, so I have come to expect being out-skilled, (this is changing as youth rugby takes off), but I want my team to make some BIG hits. We should be faster and stronger than 13 of the 15 players across from us. The worst sight of the Welsh match was Alec Parker, being dragged on his back-side while the Welsh crowd and players laughed with glee. I have seen teams stand up and get tough when they are being crushed and I have seen teams fold the tent and ask the Ref how much time but I would never expect that from our National team and that's just what they did. We surely have the player pool to have 25 of the strongest, fittest players on the International pitch at any given time. Let's find them and then work on their skills.

I will admit to a bunch of holes in my arugment, but I am still hurting from the opening of the colossal keg of whoop Arse, so I am not thinking as clearly as I normally would. I am glad to see our team rebounded and I would love to say it gives me hope for the future, but I am not so sure about that.

I have decided to put those free rugby passes in the bank for maybe a early 15's tournament this fall!


Pat Laczkowski