Ruggers and friends,
Once again for the 7th or 8th time I have traveled to Freeport Bahamas with the ORBS(old renegade boys side) the Atlanta Renegade old boys. I met up with these guys by accident when in preparation for there first trip to Freeport dubbed the” Nautical tour” one of there members was looking for a dock space to moor his boat after the trip to Freeport. They went on line to the ft Lauderdale rfc website and asked did anyone on our club have dock space for a sail boat. My name was referred and since then the “Osprey” has been at my dock and made the annual trip to Freeport to enjoy memorial day festivities. At the time I was recovering from my shoulder dislocation suffered in a D11 game vs Krewe(Tampa) I had not played for at least 6 months and these guys were 2 players short and needed backs so I got talked into going to Freeport and have been touring with the Orbs since then including trips to Saranac lake canam games. All tours have been great and now for this most recent tour.
Several Lauderdale guys have toured with me to Freeport including Horovitz,tinerman,Reiland,graboski,Gavin,garvey and Sarah and now Rocco and Sylvia. Sharon and I usually take the Discovery Cruise line over and this year they offered a package which included 3 days hotel at the Lucaya reef Hotel and it was a super deal. The seas were great going over and coming back, the ship was packed. Part of our package included all the Busch beer you could drink while on board!! Rocco and Sylvia were lit up before we lost site of land. Usually reserved Sylvia was happy go lucky funny while on holiday and that’s what this entire trip was a great holiday. Unfortunately Rocco came as the ref not to play. Hopefully he comes next year to play.
The Orbs were traveling light this year(economy i guess) Korndog, who lives in lighthouse, usually comes with 4 or 5 boats full of party people did not make the trip at all. He was recovering from Achilles tendon surgery and he sold his 50′ Post yacht and his party crew was missed. We had to pick up a total stranger who never played and put him on a wing and a Freeport player now living in Hollywood also joined our ranks. we had 15 guys which meant i had to play all 60 minutes(three 20s).
We had the usual outstanding pack and won plenty of ball, the backs are usually the suspect item for the orbs and this year we had a wing who never played at all, another wing borrowed from Freeport, who when he played for Freeport was in my opinion the weakest link on a very strong side, and a center who at age 42 was playing his third game!!! We also had and excellent scrumhalf(Alex rocca) and an Englishman at flyhalf who talked a lot but knew exactly what needed to be done and was an excellent field general for us and helped keep our rookie players useful and involved in the game, we also had an inside center who was a monster, he was fast and strong with a menacing look about him(think roger tigner on steroids!!) As usual I was at fullback to try to keep freeports excellent kicking game from killing us.
Despite having 2 rookies in the backfield this may have been one of the best backfields we’ve ever had. Jeremy, the wing we borrowed from freeport played the best game i have ever seen him play, fielding most balls cleanly and taking it to his old mates and certainly held his ground on defense.
Our bone stock rookie (Dan) was nothing short of amazing and should consider taking up old boy rugby. He was very fast, strong and in great shape(Physical fitness trainer) he made some mistakes for sure but was a monster on defense and saved our ass many times with great effort on his part.
The monster inside center(Tiny) ran through the defense and was difficult to follow as he was all over the place at times. Tiny got nailed good one time and it cost him a rib which slowed him a bit, but for the most part freeport couldn’t stop him and he scored all 4 of our trys, that is the part which leaves me slightly hollow with our win because Tiny was a little under age at 32 yrs old. If he wasn’t such an impact it wouldn’t matter and in the past i know i have tackled some Freeport Conchs who were not 35 either so i do not want to dwell on Tinys age.
The conchs understand we are on tour in a very lean year and they knew we had to play who we brung. As I said before Tiny was a strong runner and fast ,who wasn’t afraid to take the ball into the largest Conch and take the hit. He wasn’t much at dishing off the ball to anyone mainly because he usually got through! I came very close to hooking up with him on some switches but he was a little too fast for me to stay close to on some runs plus i would get tired and he didnt! I had a reasonable game at fullback, I dropped one of Nigels kicks and he nailed me for it plus Rocco saw it and it cost us a scrum. Nigel tested me and the wings as often as he could and netted at least one of their scores when little Johnny(Conch scrumhalf) ran down Nigels kick(with support) our rookie wing Dan did the best he could to cover the excellent kick which caught me on the other side of the field covering what looked to be a strong side attack but Nigel did me dirty and went weak side with the kick, little johnny and speed winger Tony covered the kick perfectly and overcame Dan and I was no where to be found sucking wind on the other side of the field.
Little Johnny (freeports man of the match) almost sank us as he ran through the entire Orbs pack untouched after a penalty inside our 22 at the opening of the 2nd period. The penalty came after poor coverage of yet another Nigel kick for position(he kills us with his foot every year) I told the Orbs to be ready for an onslaught at the start of the second period and as usual the Conchs came out with both guns blazing as i knew they would and caught us flatfooted, as usual!! Then the dagger in my heart, later in that period about 10 yards from our try line the conchs are attacking again, both teams are clustered just right of the posts and the larger part of the field is guarded by myself and the outside center, we are not over loaded but a lot of field to cover.
Nigel sends the ball out to Rob Speller who takes it into the outside center, Nigel quickly fields the ball from the ruck, now i am looking at Nigel who could run himself or pass out to Burt, the outside center who burned me last year for a try. I had to wait a second for support from the inside to cover Nigel who sent the ball out to Burt who got a great jump on me and with only 10 yds to cover there wasn’t enough room to run him down. Last year i chased him for 60 yds and he opened up a yard on me, this year i have been working hard to prevent this and within on 10 yds i was able to catch up but it was already a try. At age 60 I feel no shame over it but I am still pissed. As usual our pack kept us in the game with strong running and ball control the lineouts were the only phase we couldn’t dominate and in general the conchs kicking game was superior along with better coverage by their backs, clearly they attack our backs for their best chance to score and unlike just few years ago i am no longer capable of stopping most of what gets through.
Man of the match for the Orbs was big Bill from Savannah(Also a ref) He played #8 for us and was very mobile for a big man and you could hear the Conchs talking always mindful where Bill was as they knew he would lead an attack at any moment, as i said earlier Little Johnny was freeports man of the match and is as dangerous now as he was when Lauderdale use to travel to Freeport in the old days to play the conchs.
The party scene was even better than usual, we had players up on stage in count Bassie square dancing with tourist as well as the usual take over of rum runners lounge. We usually have a big cookout at Korndogs boat Sunday evening, since korndog didn’t make it this year Rob Speller came up with great plan B, we walked up the beach to the Coral Beach Hotel where the Orbs paid for fish and chips dinner for everyone and free booze for 2 hours and happy hour prices the rest of the night, it was great and no cleanup!!! Many of the guys brought wives or girlfriends and my daughter Nina came along with her so african girlfriend Kelly, a great time was had by all. We met Rocco and Sylvia most mornings for breakfast and started every day off right, a relaxing fun 4 day weekend and rugby too, what could be better.
If you would like to see pics let me know i will email them to you, some are x rated, you wont get those!!
Beerfoot 7s is next! who wants to play? I may hook up with the shisty bastards, anyone up for an old boy side?