See What Had Happened Was…

Unfortunately, this weekend’s match with Notre Dame College has been called off by the college club due to alleged complications with Easter, injuries and Spring Break. This confluence of unfortunate circumstances apparently left the Falcons’ numbers so diminished that they were unable  to honor their commitment and host the Green Horde.

Worry not, rugby fans. There are silver linings to this black cloud. First, injuries and Spring Break don’t last forever and Jesus only rose once so the players will eventually return; and. hopefully, at that point we will have our Cleveland derby. Second, now we can focus on playoffs next week. The second round of playoffs look to be a retread of the Fall season, with familiar opponents Pittsburgh and the Detroit Tradesmen as their possible foes. If Pittsburgh managed to upset the Tradesmen last week, the Green Horde would host the victors in a rubber match to prove that their victory in the second Fall season match was no fluke and prove that playing proper rugby on a legitimate field trumps paying and Old Boy to make shoddy calls any day. If the Tradesmen pulled off an expected victory, the playoff match to come will be filled with drama. On top of trying to advance in the tournament, this match is very much an instance of playing for pride. Twice the Green Horde have faced the Tradesmen – once in the Fall in Detroit and once at the Savannah Tournament this past year. Both times the Tradesmen have come up trumps. The Green Horde has ro prove that they can compete with and overcome one of the best teams in the Midwest and the Tradesmen have to make sure they put down a familiar foe to ensure they advance farther into the postseason.

The Green Horde have had nothing but success in their recent bout of matches. The only opponents to stand put blemishes on their record stand in their way next week. Will the villains from Pennsylvania come to our sovereign ground and try to slink away with a win? Or, will wee see what happens when a a big green irresistible force means a blue immovable object? No matter who the opponent is, the season is on the line and the match will be one for the ages.

See you at the pitch.

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Green Horde Battles Falcons in Cleveland Derby

This weekend the Green Horde takes arguably the shortest trip to an away match in club history when they take on up-and-coming Notre Dame College. For the Green Horde and its followers, it would be easy to write this match off as a way to work out the kinks in the system ahead of their second playoff mach but to do that would be a mistake.

The Falcons out of NDC are riding high on a Spring that has seen them come up against strong competition and, generally, do quite well. Most recently, the Falcons beat Baldwin Wallace, 31-24, and bested Akron, 75-10. To most, these numbers against these opponents wouldn’t raise any eyebrows but the bulk of the Falcons’ scorelines resemble the Akron win than the BW win. The fact is these boys know how to score and they know how to do it often. Like most college teams, their roster is packed with young, fast players; and with the recent fitness concerns following the Green Horde’s two-point victory over Indianapolis, the Falcons may be able to get the edge on the visiting Horde.

This match is far from one-sided and the Falcons would be equally off base to think that they will be able to merely out pace the Green Horde and win handily. The Green Horde should be able to gain the edge on the young Falcons side by executing their offensive schemes and hitting hard on defense. Doing these things could go a long way to shut down the Falcons’ offense in two major ways. First, if the Green Horde executes their plays well they can keep the Falcons on their heels and playing defense. Plus, if the Green Horde holds the ball all match, it’s impossible for even the mighty Falcons to score. Second, it stands to reason that the Falcons are used to running around opponents. If the Green Horde come out and, figuratively, punch them in the mouth from the first whistle, they could throw the youngsters off their game, keep them off and bring home another victory.

This is no throw-away match. While it may not be a playoff match for either side, there are certainly big implications in the balance. Over the Green Horde’s tenure on the Cleveland rugby scene, they have proven themselves as the team to beat not only in Cleveland but anywhere north of Columbus. Similarly, the Falcons have been carving up opponents left and right, quickly solidifying themselves as a force to be reckoned with. This weekend’s match is a battle of two bests – the best men’s team and the best college team in the area. When the dust settles – or knowing Cleveland weather the snow – this weekend the score line will show who plays the best rugby in Cleveland.

Kickoff is at 1:00pm at 4545 College Rd. in peaceful South Euclid. See you at the pitch.

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Suburbs Get Win No. 2 at OU

Everything came up roses for the Cleveland Eastern Suburbs Rugby Football Club over the weekend as they worked the kinks out of their play ahead of their upcoming playoff match against the Indianapolis Impalas.

The Green Horde put down the boys from OU by a wide margin Saturday, but the weekend’s match up wasn’t about running up the score. The Cleveland side went down to Athens in order to work out the prevailing kinks in their game and unwind a bit ahead of really bucking down for playoffs.

When the ball stayed in the the hands of the ESRFC players the offense flowed seamlessly. Runners took the ball at pace, breaking the line often with support close behind and linking up phases of play to gain massive ground in their pursuit of victory. These gains, unfortunately, were often stalled out by players trying to do too much – trying to force an iffy pass in traffic or pushing for one more meter in a tackle and losing possession in the process.

Either there was something in the Athens, Ohio air or some of the Green Horde players forgot to pack their catching hands with their boots and shorts because there was a deluge of knock-ons throughout the day’s competition. The errant passes not only stymied the Cleveland side’s offense but it put the ball in the hands of the OU players in the ensuing scrums. Fortunately, the Cleveland pack was able to make the college side’s forwards had a difficult time getting the ball our of the scrum.

The Green Horde forwards made nuisances of themselves in lone-outs as well. First, OU tried to fool the Green Horde’s jumpers by throwing to their front lifter rather than the player being lifted in the air. OU retained the ball but gained now ground since they ran directly into a hard tackle from Cleveland prop Evan Johnson. When the ball went airborne OU had a bit more success but when Miles Papa wasn’t stealing the ball he was getting in the way enough to make sure his opposing jumper couldn’t win the ball cleanly; and when the ball flew errant over the jumpers it was a wrestling match for the ball in the back of the line. More often than not it came up for the ESRFC.

The Green Horde came out of Athens with a big win and a lot to work on. All in all the match and post-match festivities went a long way to strengthen the bond between OU and the ESRFC, which is a win for both teams.

The Green Horde hosts the Indianapolis Impalas on Saturday April 12. The match kicks off at 1:00pm. See you at the pitch.

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Spring Opens with a Narrow Win

Ohio’s finest rugby team, the Cleveland Eastern Suburbs Rugby Football Club, made the long drive down to Cincinnati over the weekend to play in what ended up being a test match in every sense of the word.

Unfavorable weather made the match against their DI opponents that much more difficult. The rain, which eventually turned into snow and hail made the ball extremely difficult to handle, resulting in a lot of loose ball on the deck and handling errors. The muddy pitch made getting a foothold almost impossible, an issue that affected the srums and mauls quite a bit. And the southern Ohio gails made caused the normally on-point kicks from flyhalf Nick Viviani to fade off target a number of times throughout the match.

Fortunately, due to the grit and determination of the 19 Cleveland players that made the drive, the ESRFC was able to bring home a four-point victory and take down the Wolfhounds 21-17.

The match got heated early with some sketchy play on the part of the Wolfhounds. Fortunately, cooler heads prvailed and the contest proceeded without further incident. The Green Horde opened theit account with two early penalties from the boot of their flyhalf. The Wolfhounds scored late in the first half and closed out the initial 40 minutes on a sour note for the Green Horde. The second half didn’t start much better for the visiting side as the Wolfhounds capitalized on mental errors to put up another quick try. Throughout the second half the team traded tries, putting one another under constant pressure in the hopes that the other would break. Fortunately, the ESRFC’s late try by Preston Lowden was enough to put the game out of reach for the Wolfhounds, who put in a last-gasp try during the waning minutes of the match.

The GReen Horde looks to travel to Athens and face OU in their last match before hosting the Impalas in a playoff match. If the Green Horde continues to play as hard as they did in Cincy, there are a scant few teams who can match them. Kickoff for the OU match is Saturday April 5 at 1:00pm.

See you at the pitch.

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Cleveland Rugby Represented in US Rugby Hall of Fame

Tom Selfridge (4th from right in back) with the Cleveland Blues

Tom Selfridge (4th from right in back) with the Cleveland Blues

A man who helped lay the ground work for what Cleveland rugby is today, Tom Selfridge, is being honored in Houston, Texas as part of the US Rugby Hall of Fame’s 2014 Class. Selfridge started his career in Cleveland and played around the world from there.

Here’s a brief bio on Selfridge and his rugby pedigree:

Tom Selfridge began playing rugby in 1969 as a wing/outside center for the Cleveland Blues RFC. He moved to Schenectady, NY in 1973 and was soon selected for Upstate New York and Eastern Rugby Union Select Sides at No. 8. Selfridge played five times for the United States National Team, including the Eagles’ first three test matches in the modern era. Off the playing field, Selfridge was President of the Cleveland Blues, Schenectady Reds, Windhover RFC, Upstate New York Rugby Union and the Eastern Rugby Union. He served on the Board of Directors for the Upstate NY Rugby Union, the Eastern Rugby Union, the United States of America Rugby Football Union and the United State Rugby Foundation. He managed ERU teams to Wales, Zimbabwe and Bermuda; was manager for the United States Eagles against Canada in 1988 and was instrumental in organizing the USA vs South Africa match in 1981.

Congratulations Tom. Hopefully, there will be more Cleveland rugby players in the future that follow the trajectory your career has taken and can use your achievements as inspiration and motivation.

This honor is just one more example of strong rugby coming from Cleveland.

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Stepping Out

The countdown to the official start of the 2014 Spring season is officially down to less than a week – six days until the Cleveland Eastern Suburbs Rugby Football Club comes out of hibernation and visits Cincinnati Wolfhounds.

The first game of the season, especially Spring, is always tough. Fortunately, this won’t be the first outdoor competition of the season for the Green Horde, who came in third place at this year’s pre-St. Patrick’s Day rugby tournament in Savannah, Georgia. The Wolfhounds aren’t a club to come into a match unprepared either. The Southern Ohio club was also at the Georgia tournament to defend their 2013 crown.

Both teams should be evenly matched in a season opener that will be a good tune-up for both teams. For the Green Horde, this will provide an effective gauge to see where they are in their fitness and execution as well as where they need to go if they want to be successful in their playoff match next month.

The Wolfhounds and Green Horde are no strangers. In the past they have traded players – first scrumhalf Brandon Wolfe and more recently utility forward Mark Viviani. Now, they will go toe-to-toe and see who comes out on top.

Stay tuned for highlights of this and future games. See you at the pitch.

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Congrats 2014 Six Nations Raffle Winners!

Our raffle was a big success this year. Thanks to everyone who participated; your support for the club and the entire Northeast Ohio rugby community is very much appreciated!

A special congratulations to our top prize winners:

  • Grand Prize:Lolita Johnson
  • Second Prize: Joe D’Alessandro
  • Third Prize: Ben Conklin

Cheers!

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March 11 Practice

There will be practice tonight at the pitch in the North Chagrin Reservation of the Cleveland Metro Parks. Directions are on the Practice page.

Staye tuned for further practice updates as the weather changes and gets warmer.

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Savannah 2014 Tournament Results

The ESRFC has returned from their annual pilgrimage to the great state of Georgia, with lessons learned and plenty of memories to cherish for years.

First, thank you to the Cleveland State University Men’s Rugby team for making the trip down to represent the club as its supplementary second side. They put up a solid fight in every match, even in the face of controversey. Thanks also go out to Steve Fritsch, on loan to the club from BGSU, and Kevin Sears, who came to the club to fill in at lock. Every contribution is appreciated. Add on top of that, the solid performances from returning veterans, Zack Forro, Roland D’Alesandro and Jake Haus as well as a strong performance by the core group of players, and the Green Horde had a team that was a definite threat to any team at the tournament.

The Green Horde’s First XV opened their tournament with a seven-point victory over the Air Force’s second side. The second game pitted them against the Detroit Tradesmen. Unfortunately, the Tradesmen got the better of the Cleveland club and went on to the championship round the next morning. Sunday, playing far from one hundred per cent, the ESRFC took the field against Charlotte and ended their 2014 southern style campaign on a good note by taking home third place honors.

Fitness and execution were major chinks in the Green Horde armor, two issues that will need to be remedied quickly if they hope to topple the Cinicnatti Wolfhounds in their Spring opener in just a few weeks – the Wolfhounds were in the championship match of their division Sunday.

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Georgia on My Mind

Well the big Spring kick-off is a few days away and Cleveland’s most successful rugby club has set the lineup for who it will send down south to represent the city’s finest sport. There will be 17 men making the trip, including 11 A-side players, three players making their return to the pitch after extended absences and some special guest cameos.

The final train bound for Savannah, Georgia leaves Friday night. Stay tuned to the team’s Twitter account and Facebook page for updates, results and the results from the Kangaroo Court proceedings.

Following the weekend’s tournament, the ESRFC will kick off the Spring against the Wolfhounds in Cincinnati. See you at the pitch!

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