Letters

Letters 07-25-2016

Remember Bush-Cheney Does anyone remember George W. Bush and Dick Cheney? They were president and vice president a mere eight years ago. Does anyone out there remember the way things were at the end of their duo? It was terrible...

Mass Shootings And Gun Control The largest mass shooting in U.S. history occurred December 29,1890, when 297 Sioux Indians at Wounded Knee in South Dakota were murdered by federal agents and members of the 7th Cavalry who had come to confiscate their firearms “for their own safety and protection.” The slaughter began after the majority of the Sioux had peacefully turned in their firearms...

Families Need Representation When one party dominates the Michigan administration and legislature, half of Michigan families are not represented on the important issues that face our state. When a policy affects the non-voting K-12 students, they too are left out, especially when it comes to graduation requirements...

Raise The Minimum Wage I wanted to offer a different perspective on the issue of raising the minimum wage. The argument that raising the minimum wage will result in job loss is a bogus scare tactic. The need for labor will not change, just the cost of it, which will be passed on to the consumer, as it always has...

Make Cherryland Respect Renewable Cherryland Electric is about to change their net metering policy. In a nutshell, they want to buy the electricity from those of us who produce clean renewable electric at a rate far below the rate they buy electricity from other sources. They believe very few people have an interest in renewable energy...

Settled Science Climate change science is based on the accumulated evidence gained from studying the greenhouse effect for 200 years. The greenhouse effect keeps our planet 50 degrees warmer due to heat-trapping gases in our atmosphere. Basic principles of physics and chemistry dictate that Earth will warm as concentrations of greenhouse gases increase...

Home · Articles · News · Features · Blues Rugby on the rise
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Blues Rugby on the rise

George Foster - September 8th, 2005
Coach Bill Borre of the Traverse Bay Blues is looking for YOU to fill a position on one of his rugby teams. No experience
is necessary.
According to Borre, the Blues have had no shortage of success since the original team laced up their boots in 1972. It is just that the club can always use new players since it is now fielding four different squads: (1) men’s team, (2) alumni club, (3) under 19 boys, and (4) under 19 girls. Steffenie Kehrer coaches the ladies.
If you haven’t ever seen a rugby game, you are in for a treat. A combination of soccer and American football, rugby teams field 15 players at a time and combine the hard-hitting contact of traditional gridiron action with the continuous running and teamwork characteristic of soccer. Think of Pele meets Dick Butkus – without helmets.
As a former player myself (a couple of lifetimes ago), it is obvious that I have not come close to the level of fitness attained when I played rugby regularly. While attending the annual Cherry Pit Tournament recently in Traverse City, I actually bumped into two former teammates that appeared in as good or better physical shape than they did 25 years ago - Dan (Stump) Moore from Detroit and Mike (Dr. Death) Breczinski, formerly of MSU. Knowing Stump and Dr. Death, they have played all of these years primarily because of their love for the game, though, rather than any major focus on fitness training.
Coach Borre has been involved with rugby for about 20 years. He originally joined the club at MSU in the 1980’s. Later he moved to Northern Michigan and played prop (a position akin to interior line in American football) for the Blues for several years before turning to coaching. Borre says the biggest change is the growth of rugby in Michigan high schools. There are about two-dozen high school-aged teams in our state (including the Traverse Bay Blues) offering the sport. Four or five graduates have actually helped stock the Blues men’s team this year.
Yet, the Blues roster also includes Methuselah-types like Sam Mathews (45) and Dan Bruce (46) who are in good enough shape to play on the men’s first team squad. The 27-man roster is an international recipe, made up of players of all ages from South Africa, England, New Zealand, and (of course) Northern Michigan whose day jobs range from students to professionals and everything in between.
A long way from their native South Africa, I found three exhausted ex-patriot Blues lying in the grass after a hard fought victory over the Fort Wayne, Indiana squad. Cornel Oliver attended Ohio State University and now works at Brys Estate winery near Traverse City. Coenraad Stassen is also a wine-maker from Capetown working at a competing winery, Chateau Chantel. Mathew Maritz, also from South Africa, is a full-time student in college.
For Stassen, the biggest difference between American and South African rugby is that the best athletes play football in the U.S. In America, the South African rugby players are welcomed
as saviors. In Capetown, hundreds of rugby players compete with the best athletes in the country and are fortunate to earn a spot on a decent rugby team.
Shaun Innes, originally from New Zealand, moved to Northern Michigan from San Francisco about 13 years ago. Upon his arrival, he was delighted to see a classified ad seeking rugby players placed in a local paper by long-time Blues player and rugby promoter Tony Dell’Acqua. Rugby is the national sport in New Zealand, but considered relatively unknown in the States.
Dell’Acqua is one of the most experienced ruggers on the team, having originally signed up with the Blues in the 1980’s. After graduation from high school, he tried rugby with some buddies and loved it immediately. Well-versed in most of the back-line positions of rugby, he has performed at Division I levels in San Jose and while stationed in the U.S. Army.
The Blues have been a formidable foe on the rugby pitches of the Midwest. They earned a championship in 2003 on their way to an undefeated regular fall season in their eight-team league covering Michigan, Indiana, and Ohio. Winning aside, Coach Borre says that players are attracted to the discipline, sportsmanship, camaraderie, and of course – fitness of rugby.
I would have to add one more benefit of rugby– it is exhilarating to play. Having tried most U.S. team sports myself, nothing else comes close to the fun of playing rugby.
Even if you don’t join the Traverse Bay Blues rugby club as a player, you won’t be disappointed just showing up as a fan. The games are fast-paced and spectators are friendly. And the fun doesn’t end with game’s completion – make sure to ask someone where the perfunctory rugby party is being held. Rugby parties are legendary for their European-style insanity.
Information on Traverse Bay Blues rugby can be obtained by calling Tony Dell’Acqua at 231-499-7701 or email tcbluesrugby@hotmail.com.
The following home games will be held at 1:00 pm at Bowers Harbour Park in Traverse City. No admission is charged:
9/24/05 Blues vs. Michigan RFC
10/1/05 Blues vs. Tri City
10/15/05 Blues vs. Toledo

 
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