A Free Pass After A Hard Match

For the second weekend this Fall, the Indianapolis Impalas forfeited a would-be road match. This time they were supposed to take on the Cleveland Rugby Club, who were coming off of a hard-fough nail-biter against Pittsburgh the weekend prior. While this weekend will see the Club’s Developmental side taking the field, last weekend’s match had the A sidegrinding out a last minute 26-22 win.

Whether it seems like it on the surface or not, this weekend could be a majot deciding factor in how the remainder of the Fall season goes for the Club. Coming off of the victory they had in Pittsburgh, it would be easy to write-off any competition that might come their way this coming Saturday. That would be a huge mistake on the part of the Club’s players because that is not only how you get embarrassed but that is how you also get hurt; and the Cleveland Rugby Club’s ruggeres cannot spare anyone getting mentally of physically damaged. They will need to be sharp in every aspect of their game if they want to finish strong and remain relevant in the standings. Also, this might be a great opportunity for the developing talent of the Club to gain some much-needed playing time. With injuries piling up and players in the midst of recovering, these developing talents will likely see a great deal of playing time and gaining experience before the final matches of the season would be greatly beneficial. If all goes according to plan this weekend, the roster for the Club should be more experienced and one weekend healthier – not a bad way to go into a slate of matches that are against teams that are very beatable.

For those who are unaware, the Club went to Pittsburgh last weekend and wrestled a much-needed win away from the home team. The match was far from perfect on either side. The referee was very liberal with the penalties, dishing out ten meters for even the slightest amounts of back-talk. With the penalties flying fast and furiously, possession and momentum was on a constant shift. On top of all that there were the usual handling errors and penalties of impatience that find their ways into an 80-minute match.

When the Club’s players scored during the match it was by force of will. The Cleveland club’s opening try was off of a line-out, typically a portion of the match that is a toss-up for the Club’s forwards. On this occasion against Pittsburgh’s forwards, they asserted their will with a driving maul that all but strolled across the try line and allowed fill-in front rower, Joe Brown, to get the try. Preston Lowden hooked up with the backs at the end of a long run to cross over for another one his team’s tries to help put a cushion on their lead. Nick Viviani put over a pair of penalty kicks during the match as well; but the bulk of the team’s scoring came from Tren Szente, who had a pair of tries on the day – one of which came during the final minutes of the match after a series of pick-and-go movements deep in Pittsburgh territory.

Even though the Club secured the lead with minutes left in the match, they were far from free and clear. They had one kick off to handle and time to kill, a combination that could easily spell the demise for a club with a slim lead. The Club slowed down the match by putting the ball in the capable hands of the forwards and had them inch their way down the field as time ticked off the clock. Unfortunately, the methodical move was thwarted by a late penalty that put the lead in jeopardy and nerves on edge. Fortunately, Shawn Riley sealed up the match as Pittsburgh tried to swing the ball out wide after sucking in the Cleveland defenses. Riley, normally known for his offensive prowess, snuffed out the attack with a game-saving tackle and poach attempt. The Club was awarded a final penalty, and when they kicked the ball clear the whistle blew and the victory was secured.

The final three matches for the season see the Club come up against the West siders, Dayton and Detroit RFC – three teams they have a good history with First up, they host the West side. They kick off next week at the Metro Parks Pitch at 1:00pm.

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Taking A Turn, But Not Permanently, for the Worse

So the past two weeks have shown two potential futures for the Cleveland Rugby Club as it stands now. Two weeks ago, the Club took a strong core of players to Indianapolis and played to a hard-fought tie with a tough Impalas side. More recently, the Club hosted the most dominant team in the region in the Detroit Tradesmen and got embarrassed – not only by the score but by the actions of club members on and off the field as a whole.

The match against the Impalas put on display the traits that make this club a great organization to be a part of – the dedicated core that is willing to fight against great odds until the final moment, the group that is willing to play until their last drop of sweat and bit of breath for the people around them, the group that will pick up their tired teammates and will them to one more tackle, one more scrum, one more lineout at the far side of the field.

The debacle against the Tradesmen showcased some of the unfortunate chinks in our armor that affect our style and quality of play. As developments go from bad to worse on the field, everyone’s composure diminishes; and as composure slips, mistakes are mad, consequences are levied and the cycle continues. And as the process goes on the pitch so it goes off the pitch as well. Unfortunately, on Saturday an element of this sideline contingency took matters into their own hands, which resulted in something taking place that, at the very least, was unnecessary.

The up side is that both of these matches have provided a great glimpse of what this club is made of, for better or for worse. Now it is up to the captains, Heads of State, seasoned players, rookies and Old Boys to decide which club they are going to be. Will they be the team that will grind it out with a tough team, stick to their disciplined style of play and put together a tough 80 minutes every weekend? Or, will they be the type of team that implodes when push comes to shove and the tables begin to turn?

The remainder of the season will be the first steps towards the Club’s future. Hopefully, everyone involved will do their best to make all the right steps in all the right places.

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Miracle on Kickstarter

One of the Club’s Old Boy, Mike Miracle, has been working on an invention and he is ready to roll out the fruits of his labor. He needs some additional funding before he can bring his innovation to the world. Miracle has put his invention, the MiracleFone, on Kickstarter in order to get some help in crowd funding the project.

The MiracleFone works with your smart phone and helps in dealing with those pesky phone calls that go on just a little too long. In short, it offers you a polite way to exit a never-ending conversation. MiracleFone is disguised to look like your standard car door opener and goes on your key chain. All a person has to do is secretly press one of the three buttons on the device and trigger a rescue call that will be sent to your phone so that you can politely exit an inopportune conversation.

Miracle has produced hundreds of these devices already and his team is confident that, with some additional funding, crowdfunders can help him save the valuable time of millions.

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Caught ‘em on the Rebound

There are plenty of quotes about how people react in the face of adversity. There are platitudes falling off horses, getting knocked down and all that jazz. Well, the Cleveland Rugby Club made good on all those when they hosted Dayton for their second official match of the Fall season.

The Club started off the season with an uncharacteristic loss to the West side team that shall not be named. After that the club’s starting XV had two weeks off of competition – the week immediately following the match was Labor Day weekend and the week after the second side hosted Kent State University and Cleveland State University during a bye weekend. Put two weeks away from competition on top of a rare opening-season loss to a rival and you have a set of circumstances that are hard to overcome, mentally. In classic Club fashion, they did just that.

The Club kicked off against Dayton two things became abundantly clear very quickly: the Cleveland side was playing with fire in their strides and they were still recovering from white line fever. The opening kick hit the ground and the hosts were all over it, diving on the loose ball before Dayton knew what was happening. After pressuring their visitors for a while, there was an opening out wide. A misplaced forward stifled the would-be try after knocking on a direct pass with no pressure in front of him. The mental errors would only be part of the story, though.

During the down time, the Club’s starting XV made significant strides in shoring up the problems they had in their opening match. Though Dayton threw themselves into – and, more often than not, over – every breakdown, the Club managed to do a better job retaining ball and keeping the flow of play going. Occasionally, support did slack and resulted in loss of possession and penalties but those were few and far between. For the most part, runners made breaks with support runners flanking at at least one side of them. There were a few times when the extra pass enabled one of the Cleveland runners to break free of the fractured Dayton defenses and dash across the try line. Other times, runners held the ball just one second too long and either snuffed out a potential scoring opportunity or resulted in a forward pass and a scrum being called.

Normally, scrums would not be an issue for the Cleveland forwards but they had some struggles Saturdays. Whether it was from Dayton beefing up their pack , the ground being soft or troubles within the Cleveland pack, the scrums weren’t going very well for a while. When the Cleveland scrumhalf put the ball in, it was either kicked off the prop’s shin or stuck just behind the front row. Despite the few difficulties they had, the Club’s forwards held their own pretty well in the scrums in the first half. In the second half a few substitutions were made and the scrum solidified. Suffice to say these were big subs.

The Cleveland forwards controlled the action on the sidelines, locking down the every lineout they threw in. For a short while Dayton opposed the throws but after a while resigned themselves to trying to break up ensuing mauls, which they did to some success. The Club’s lineout defense was on point as well. If Dayton did get the ball cleanly to their jumper, there were almost always forwards darting through gaps in the line to get at the scrumhalf. When Dayton brought the ball down and tried to maul, the Cleveland defense shut them down relatively quickly. Whether it was due to a Cleveland forward knifing through the initial maul setup or them wearing down and stalling out the progression, Dayton’s maul progress was limited.

Imperfect as the performance might have been, the Cleveland Rugby Club put together a strong performance against Dayton and got back to winning ways. They took the A side win 53-12.

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Fallen Ruggers 2014

Te Fallen Ruggers memorial gathering will take place at the Claddagh Irish Pub in lovely and beaucolic Lyndhurst, Ohio this Saturday, September 6, at 3:00pm. All proceeds from the door will go to the Cleveland Rugby Club and The 1964 Rugby Foundation.

Each year, we like to set aside time to more formally remember those Fallen Ruggers who have preceded us to that great rugby pitch in the sky. In addition to remembering our old friends, the event will be a fundraiser with a minimum $20 donation at the door. The donation includes free beer and pub grub thanks to the generous gift of two kegs of beer and free food from our friends at Claddagh. All proceeds go to The 1964 Rugby Foundation to support the great sport of rugby in Northeast Ohio.

The fundraiser follows a friendly match with the CSU Vikings. The match takes place at 12:00pm at the Metro Parks Pitch, just one mile south of Squire’s Castle. This gathering will be a great way for young and old to meet and share stories of yesterday and yesteryear.

We certainly hope to see you there. Friends, family, new members and long-standing members of the Cleveland rugby community are welcome.

See you at the pitch, and then at Claddagh.

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Fallen Ruggers 2014 at Claddagh

September 6 is fast approaching, and that means the Fallen Ruggers fundraiser for the 1964 Rugby Foundation is just around the corner as well. Each year, the Foundation likes to set aside time to more formally remember those fallen ruggers who have preceded us to that great rugby pitch in the sky. This year, The 1964 Rugby Foundation has teamed up with the good people at the Claddagh Irish Pub to sponsor the event.

The annual event is a fundraiser for the 1964 Rugby Foundation. However, this year, it has been decided that the proceeds from admission to the event will go to the Cleveland Rugby Club. The minimum donation at the door is $20, which covers food and beer for the duration of the evening – food and beer deals viable while supplies last, so get there early.

The point of this fundraiser is simple: to bring as many people out as possible and help support the Club, not as individuals coming to a bar for some food, drink and stories; but as a united group, a family, that wants to support the people who will take the field long after we are gone.

Those who are able are encouraged to give more than $20. Those who have them, are encouraged to bring old photos, old kit and all the great stories they can recall.

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Here Comes A New Challenger!

Hello Cleveland Rugby Club faithful. Our Match Secretary, Brandon Wolfe, has reached out and scheduled a game with Cleveland State University in order to fill up one of our open dates – Saturday, September 6.

The match will primarily be for the B-side guys and some other guys who weren’t here last Saturday. This match is a friendly competition set up to get our less experienced players some game time before we hit the rest of the league season.

The match will take place at 12:00pm at the Metroparks Pitch so we can get our work in and then go to the Fallen Ruggers Fundraiser for our team. The event is at 3:00pm at Claddaugh Irish Pub.

Adjust your calendars. See you at the pitch.

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Missteps and Missed Opportunities

The 2014 Fall season started like many before it, with the Cleveland Rugby Club facing the West side. This encounter ended in favor of the West siders.

Leading up to the match the Club was confident they told bee victorious again, despite fluctuating numbers at training sessions. Once the two teams kicked off they were in for a rude awakening.

The West side club sported a lineup with a revamped back line and reinforced pack. Though the backs were well contained for the most part, the pack posed more problems.

It seemed as though the opposition forwards were at every breakdown with their hands on the ball. Though the legality of their actions is up for debate, the fact remains that they stymied the Club’s progress and kept them from scoring at crucial points in the game. Scrums were an issue for the Club as well. The ball was either squirting out the side or getting caught under the forwards, allowing the West siders to impose their will and steal the ball.

The Club’s forwards were able to control things in the air, though. Lineouts were a bright spot for the day. They brought down just about every ball they threw in and got it out cleanly to the waiting back line. When they brought it down to make progress through the maul they came up against a bit more friction but still managed to retain ball.

Defense overall was solid on the day, despite the unfortunate outcome. Tackles were solid and the line was flat while remaining mobile early on, but as the game wore on fatigue set in the cracks began to show and the opposition took advantage.

Offense was fractured at times but still effective for the Club. Due to the pressure at the breakdown, clean ball was in short supply. When the Club had the ball, whether it was in the forwards or the backs, they broke the line often and made ground. Unfortunately, more often than not the runner was often isolated which resulted in a number of turnovers or penalties. The Club also shot themselves in the foot at numerous crucial points either close to the try zone or during transition play. There was also an uncharacteristically off kicking day for the Club, leaving a number of penalty points on the table that would have cone in handy at the end of the day.

The upside of this defeat is now the Club knows where they need the most work, and with the way their schedule is set they have a few weeks to sort it all out. Hopefully, after the long break the Club can rebound and bring home the first win of the season. Start tuned for further details and developments.

See you at the pitch.

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The Season Starts Anew Saturday

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, children of all ages, it’s opening week of the 2014 Fall season. It’s officially rugby season. It’s hunting season and we start off with an all too familiar foe.

Saturday, August 23, we venture across the rover into the untamed wilds of the West side. There, waiting for us, are the unwashed masses, the pretenders to the Cleveland rugby throne, the guys who continue to claim to be the best rugby team in the city. Join us as we remind them what the facts are and who stands tall in this city.

There will be two games, with the A game kicking off at 1:00pm and the B game to follow immediately. Active players, everyone who comes will be able to play. Not-so-active fans, come out and crowd the sidelines to cheer on the Club. The games are at Impett Park in Cleveland.

Those looking to play should be at the field no later than 11:30am to get ready.
See you at the pitch.

As an aside, there has been a scheduling switch. Due to issues out of our control, the dates with the Detroit RFC have been switched. We will be going to Detroit on 10/4 and hosting on 11/15.

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First 15s Session Down

A lot of new faces and a lot of the usual suspects showed up today. Glad to see everyone out and looking fit. Play was crisp and on point, with the new guys catching on quickly.

We’re on the right track for another strong successful Fall, but it’s not too late to join. If you’re interested in playing for Cleveland’s premier rugby team head to the Metro Peaks Pitch Tuesdays and Thursdays at 5:30pm. All are welcome. Directions are on the Practice page.

Keep up with the Cleveland Rugby Club as the Fall goes on and come take in a game or two.

See you at the pitch.

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