Tuesday, September 29, 2009

McKindley Ward receives 2008 Woodcock Award

All joking aside, the 2nd annual GCR Alumni Match was a great success and the relationship between the current college club and its former alumni continues to grow at the benefit of all parties.

Importantly, on Saturday the Alumni Association recognized Junior David McKindley Ward as the MVP of the 2008 season.

Although the man often called "Superstar" by his teammates is never short of praise for his contribution to the team at Flyhalf for the last two years and change, he now has his name alongside other Guilford Men's Rugby greats including last year's recipient Nick Hunter and GCRFC legends like Tyler Cope, Ben Snyder, Dan Hayden, and Kevin Woodcock himself. Undoubtedly, due to his aggressive manner of play and deft kicking talent McKindley Ward is the all-time points leader in the clubs history, although official numbers will never be available. All former recipients of the Woodcock Award (which has been given for each year since 2002) were on hand to present the award except for the inaugural winner, Joe S.

The award is now on display to the public in the Guilford College trophy case in the gym, a further testament to the solidity of the club's relationship with the school that has developed in recent years.

Monday, September 28, 2009

"Guilford Ruggers Ravaged by Alumni Horde" (The Alumni Game Match Report as told by Nick Hunter Guilford '08)

College Pretenders: 12-26 :Alumni Avengers
The Alumni Field Report

This past weekend will live in Guilford Rugby infamy forever, or at least until next fall. In an epic rainsoaked rumble that deserved the signature of Tolkien himself, a large compliment of graduated (and not-so graduated) alumni brawlers laid waste to a young and petulant clan of footy wanna-bes. Captained by the treacherous Matt Baker of Richmond Lions duty, the larger and more experienced maroon-and-blacks flexed their numerous degrees and laid down a cold, harsh welcome to the rigors of real-world rugby.

Though Guilford plays an effective, fast-paced game that will likely demolish their collegiate foes this year, the Alumni team had planned for chaos and ball-dropping. The addition of a steady rain and a wet paddock greatly enhanced only one of those strategies, and no points for guessing whose. That said, Alumni first-five Tito Kohout's hands (on loan from Austin Huns) were impeccable on the day and he dropped nary a pass that was noticed in 100 minutes of rugby. His starting second-five Chris Pugliese was as impressive, dotting down a try and showcasing the linebreaking talent that earned him a bullshit under-the-table degree in jungle pseudoscience from Blockbuster University. Chrissy was later hailed as the backs' man-of-the-match by the college side in the postgame BBQ of Warriors at the community center. He has yet to pay his dues. Or tuition.

Referee George Huber was once more risen from the grave to lend his services to these Elysian Fields festivities. Huber's reffing style is best described as whimsical and hazardous to all players under his whistle, but his two blind eyes and lack of fitness also go well toward fantastic flow of the game. Indeed, each team was equally maligned by his calls, which is perhaps the highest compliment that can be given to any referee. With a crack in the clouds after the match, a ray of sunlight disintegrated and banished his hated form back into the shadows, and thankful gifts of whiskey were placed by his tomb.

Sporting a hefty 300lb advantage in the packdown, the grizzled alumni forwards employed a smart strategy of lockout-and-lean (and punch) that made sure they only lost about 85% of the scrummages on the day. The plan was to collapse 100% of them, so to find the ball popping out favorably on occasion was an added bonus. Jeff Frisby and Joe Rumly made trouble up front for astoundingly long periods of time, given that their undying endurance on match day could only have come from pent-up hatred for rugby and humans in general, and not from fitness. Captain Baker at number 6 and a simply evil Drew Gottlieb (Triad Rugby) in the 7 shirt were able to slow enough ball and conceal enough penalties at the breakdown to force Abel Montes and the Innocent Children into a non-compete agreement. Forwards Kevin Woodcock (Duke Grad Rugby,) Dan Miller (Hussar Sevens,) and Byron Myers (Lizard People,) were present throughout to dish out unwarranted punishment and degrade the health of their joints. Miller propped from the full-squat position to compete for scrum space with world's largest toddler David Watters. Woodcock nearly slotted a penalty from his own half, only missing at the last second because the uprights were built thirty meters to the left of his kick a year ago. Ryan Kitaif fought somebody. Probably Crosby.

Legendary enforcer of many codes of law, Dan "Thunder" Hayden was the proud police pillager of five points on the day as he brutally tazed his way through Andrew Slater and Abel Montes to score a cop try before arresting college prop Randal Aldana in front of his mother. Gabriel Guindon and Cory Williams were everywhere on pitch, and squashed numerous uprisings against their harsh and unfair rule in the outside backs. Morgan Kerr swerved through every lane of traffic for 14 hours on his drive down from Maine to finally crash head-on into the Guilford uprights, throwing himself through the windshield and landing face down on a ball that had been worked into the tryzone, earning himself 5 points and a trip to Moses Cone hospital.

Wing Derek Loehr and fullback Cody Martin combined on several occasions to return counter-attacks and make all the right knock-ons. Their kicks and runs were effective and nullified young 15 Joel Popkin's ability to break through the defense or into local politics. Loehr's shoulder did not come out once, and Cody came out at the social. John "Two-brace" Stephenson left both braces in his kit bag, but did well to prevent attacks down the touchline and acquire attractive bruises before his upcoming wedding. John is wished well, and hopefully he keeps his children away from rugby. Self-proclaimed "Beer Coaches" Max George and Nick Hunter made nonsensical substitutions between irrational complaints, and neither one of the injured duo hurt themselves further while surveying the battle.

Detestable Ben Snyder scored the last meaningful try of the scrap, which went a long way toward redeeming his many failures on the pitch and in life. Kohout converted on three out of four in the wet, sealing the alumni contribution at 26 points. He and Pugliese, Hayden, Guindon, Stephenson, Kerr, Williams, Martin, Loehr, Harry Lorello, and others all put together shows of ball movement in the back line that made no sense given the wet conditions or the relative skill of any member in that combination. Lorello made several forays into action, gaining ground with forty-meter runs and eighty-proof breath. Max Kochinke was uncatchable and ran such a commanding game at halfback that he lost his voice completely. That was preferable, however, to Matt Elverson's lost dignity at #8 due to his now classic "kick from anywhere" strategy. Speaking of #8's with zero dignity, Tyler Cope made a lot of money for those who placed bets that he would make zero passes, but used his head as a battering ram for the unholy goals of his horde.

These nomadic Alums traveled from as far as Nantucket, Texas, and the West Coast just to collectively spite their former teammates and current standard bearers. The annual victory tally now stands at 1-1, with next year's rubber match already anticipated as Guilford Rugby hastily outpaces every season behind it, and every alum grows colder, more wicked, and another year closer to death.


Thursday, September 24, 2009

2nd Annual Alumni Game this weekend!

On Saturday the Guilford Men will host past graduates and dropouts in the 2nd annual Alumni Game. Last November's inauguration was quite successful and the alumni anticipate fielding a stronger side this year with access to a wealth of skilled ruggers from the 2009 graduating class. The Guilford Rugby Alumni Association, founded last year by alumn Ben Snyder, Nick Hunter, and Drew Gottlieb has been a growing success and in an unprecedented move of sober charity they will host the current team to a post-game banquet where the Woodcock Award (for Most Valuable Player of the previous season, currently in possession of 2007 recipient Nick Hunter) will be passed on to the next Guilford rugby legend-to-be.

Everyone come out to the pitch at 1 for the women's game against Wake Forest and 3 for the 2nd ever Guilford Men's Rugby Alumni game. Broken alumn Nick Hunter and the new shoulda-boy Max George will be getting sloppy all day on the sidelines, please do not listen to anything they have to say, sir. Expect to see names long forgotten (a certain Tito?) and skills long past (T-Cope ain't got no juice) on display and don't worry, even if the kids win the battle the alumni are undefeated in the post-match social. Who knows, maybe even George Huber will shoot-the-boot this year!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Guilford Off to Strong Autumn Start

Guilford 15-14 Triad Men
Guilford 10-10 Elon

Guilford Rugby looks to boast the strongest competitive side in the club's history this year. The Quakers did enough to secure a win over 2008 D3 South Finalists Triad Rugby and drew with last year's top North Carolina D3 college club Elon Phoenix. What's more is they have also achieved a new goal for 2009 fall friendly matches, blooding as many new players as possible for a full second half.

Evolutions in the team are everywhere. The pack troubled a vastly larger Triad team in the scrum, often driving them backwards during their own put-ins, and winning all their own ball. Against Elon the Quaker pack won nearly every scrum of the day, no matter whose feed. Back row forwards have done excellent work in the rucks and cleanly transitioned to enhancing backline play with their presence. Flanker Kevin Smithey in particular has taken ownership of several touch-line sprints for impressive meterage. Now iconic in Guilford's forward crew, hooker Abel Montes de Oca has returned for what may be his last year at Guilford. The stout leader's beard alone has been said to deserve the #2 shirt.

A revelation for Guilford has come in the play of the back three unit, which now shows structured counter-attacks and fields high kicks well. Two tries in the match versus Triad came by way of fullback Maxwell George's clever play. Wingers for the team are almost entirely new, but offer some surprising athleticism and are taking to the game better than expected. Perhaps where Guilford looks strongest, however, is in the inside backs. Flyhalf Sean McNally has instantly meshed with his new team and showed his 6 years of rugby experience with classy distribution to the centers and smart probing with ball in hand. The pairing of McNally and former NCRU All-Star David McKindley-Ward (at 13) in the line was disastrous for Triad, who were fortunate to have no fewer than three tries averted by untimely penalties. McKindley-Ward, who scored Guilford's only try against a very tough Elon side, will be absent for much of the coming season, however, as he looks to gain experience in Ireland during the rest of the fall. His return for the Spring Matrix will be felt. Meanwhile, strong inside center Harrison Anthony has returned from a sidelining illness last year to bring much appreciated physicality and vision to the unit.

The pitfalls of the club so far have been dropped balls and growing pains. Tries that are deserved go unscored when needless 50-50 passes wind up on the wrong side of 50, and intently giving more than a few completely new players entire halves against proven and talented sides is always a risk. Guilford vs. Elon was frought with these kinds of passes and the score reflected it. The payoff, however, is a club that is closer-bound and will boast more depth when it is needed. Among other lessons of the last year, the Quakers have learned that the spring academic calendar can claim players as easily as injuries can, and the club has seen fit to let the fall friendlies play out as they may while rookies are given the proper grooming.

The club will only improve when Bryce Bjornson steps up to take back the reigns at center when McKindley-Ward vacations, and Max George's return from a shoulder injury should galvanize the group further.

Guilford will now look to fend off a very impressive Alumni selection this coming weekend.

Match Report by Nick "Too Broke to Battle" Hunter, Photos by Sarah Thabalt

Monday, September 14, 2009

Guilford 15, Triad 14

This Saturday Guilford Men's Rugby kicked off their fall friendly season with an improbable 15-14 home win over Greensboro's DIII elite men's team, Triad Rugby. In what can only be described as a team effort Guilford dispelled rumors of a lack of organization and preparation this year after losing 8 graduating seniors in May. Senior fullback Max George touched-down two tries and junior outside center David McKindley-Ward converted one and added a penalty to the tally in one of the most grueling matches in recent Guilford rugby history. George and senior flanker Kevin Smithey, who played like a man possessed on the weak side, were awarded Men of the Match.

Full match report to follow. Thanks to everyone who came to support, hope to y'all for this coming weekend's home game against Elon!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Guilford Rugby back in full swing

With the start of the 2009/2010 school year, Guilford Rugby wasted no time getting back on the pitch and shaking off the summer dust from their boots. Captains Slater (forwards) and Joel (backs) are delighted to welcome more than 10 brand new payers, mostly first-years, to fill in the gaps left by a very talented graduating class.

Perhaps the most exciting addition, however, is junior transfer Sean McNally, who has 6 years of experience with game and most recently played with Boston in the USA Super League. Sean will replace David "Superstar" McKindley-Ward, who's going to be drinking whiskey and growing his beard in Ireland this fall, at flyhalf for the semester. Although a little afraid of our boys' off-field antics at times (i.e. Sean has declined all make-out offers from other teammates so far), Sean is getting on just fine on the pitch and the backline is looking formidable, with returning centers Bryce Bjornson and Harry Anthony, fullback Maxwell George, winger Paul McCoullough and Joel Popkin, who will move to scrumhalf to replace recent graduate Max Kochinke.

The pack welcomes back world-destroyer/#1 Dad Abel Montes de Oca at hooker after his semester hiatus. With returners Randall Aldana, David "Under the Bridge" Watters, Kevin "The Lips" Smithey, Graybird, Air Crosby, Will "Manchild" Dawson, Alex Knox, Teddybear, and Slater, the pack shouldn't look too different from last year.

On Saturday the boys had an inner-squad scrimmage and followed it up with a season-opening joint social with the lovely ladies of Guilford's women's side. The 9-on-9 game gave the new guys a chance to get dirty and get lit up by Slater and it showed the experienced players how out of shape they actually are. A sizable crowd of rugby fans showed up to watch and afterward congratulations and beerulations were shared with everyone. Recognition was given to brand new ruggers of the game Kevin, of the new forwards, and Dave, of the new backs, who both showed tremendous potential in the budding stages of their careers.

In other news, the highly anticipated innaugural Guilford Men's Rugby nude calendar will be coming out this week! The calendars, which will be sold at $15 each with all proceeds going towards the social fund, features players from last year's team and Teddy Bear himself on the cover. Anyone interested in the first run of 100 calendars find Bryce.

And lastly, here's a look at the fall match schedule. Our first 4 games in a row will be here at Guilford, including the fall highlight, the second annual Alumni game on Sept. 26.

9/12 1pm: Triad @ Guilford
9/19 12pm: Elon @ Guilford
9/26 1pm: Alumni Match @ Guilford
10/3 Rucktoberfest (App St)
10/10 1pm: UNC Charlotte @ Guilford
10/31 NCRU Tournament
11/7 Guilford @ Duke
11/14 Guilford @ Eno River
11/20 Guilford @ NC State

See y'all on the pitch.