Wow! What a weekend. Two full days of rugby fun and fellowship. Thanks for Tiger Alum Kevin Roedel and friends for coming up with the idea… and for making it happen. Thanks to Jim Wilson for kitting out the Tiger Old Boys and for getting the swag (still have a few T’s and some cups if you missed out). Thanks for recent grad Lee Downing for his assistance in acquiring the libations. There were many more who pitched in. Thanks to all.
For those of you who missed it, here’s what happened this weekend. Two hundred (yes, 200!) people showed up for a dinner at the Germantown Country Club on Friday night. We heard from several speakers and I had the pleasure of introducing the 2012-2013 Memphis Tigers. A great dinner, great fellowship with friends and great start for the weekend. Tiger Alum Steve Perry MC’d the event and was his usual hilarious self and had to shoot the boot a few times due to miscues (real or perceived).
For Saturday, three matches were scheduled at Memorial field with the Tigers kicking off against the Tiger Old Boys at 1:00. Before the match I explained to the Tigers that though we were more fit and prepared to play, the old boys would not be easy to beat. I warned our lads that the Old Boys cheat… that is why we needed to play extra hard and keep our heads. Plus, several old boys had a 12-pack where their six-pack used to be, so they were a bit harder for us to manage in the rucks and mauls.
The match went as predicted. They were hard to handle at the rucks, but the speed of or our backs was superior. If we could just get the ball out to the wings and our crashing fullback, we’d take this match handily. Well, that’s what we did. With Phil’s quick hands and a skip and loop, Scott found the ball with two old boys in pursuit. No problem for Scott. We drew first blood.
The forwards started out slow and rusty but sorted out things after a few minutes and began to hold their own in the scrums. Our lineouts were great, except for the problems we had with the wind. Flankers were dropping the old boys with ease with sweet tackles. Adam said that they were fun to tackle because they were so soft and fluffy.
There was good control by our forwards in all phases except at the ruck, where we need more work. We dominated toward the last part of the match until, for some reason, their pack began to drive us back in scrums. With 5 minutes in the match, the Tigers were having a hard time keeping the old boys out of the red zone. Then, I realized that they had 12 men in the scrum. When I looked at the backline, there were 13 players fanned out. Even with this advantage, the Tigers kept them out of the try zone for several minutes. (Very impressive!) It was a tough assignment, but the tigers were up to the challenge. Each Tiger had to tackle two defenders. Great practice!
Josh Campbell picked up honors as Man of the Match for the Tigers with two tries and excellent play. Phil had a few conversions and Jonathan Brewi picked up a penalty kick. Scott took two tries on some nice breaks. Final score 27-19.
Shannon Merritt was honored as the Man of the Match for the Tiger Old Boys. As part of his excellent play, he scored a try following a rolling maul.
All 29 Tigers on hand had a chance to play. The starters shook off the rust and the new players showed athleticism and promise. The coaches have work to do and we now have a blueprint on how to move forward.
The Flamingos and Lady Tigers played next. The ladies had a great time and we are very proud of the developing Lady Tigers team.
Lastly, a match between the Memphis Old Boys (MOB) and the Blues began around 4:00. The Tigers, hungry for more playing time were worked into the match with both the Blues and the MOB. Having our Tigers stand beside these veteran players helped them learn even more on the weekend.
Lots of family and friends showed up and there were over 300 at the pitch during the event. After the final whistle we retired to Newbie’s for BBQ and where the Flamingo’s were in charge of party games.
Special thanks to referees Alastair Twaddle and Brad Cole for excellence during the matches. They set the proper tone, keeping everything fun and safe. This was a tough assignment due to the varying levels of fitness and experience. Alastair and Brad give a lot to our community and we are all very grateful that we have them.
This was the first of what is hoped to be an annual event. If you missed this year, you do not want to miss this event in the future. After the hangover clears, organizers will assess the event and sort out what we need to do next year. Keep an ear to the ground.