BLOOMINGDALE — Year in and year out, the Adirondack Region has been treated to some of the finest, most intense action in the Can-Am Rugby tournament.
This year was no exception as the four-day event crowned multiple division champions in the 39th edition played on a beautiful Sunday in Bloomingdale.
In the featured match of the day, Boston-based Mystic River avenged last year’s 9-5 loss to the Brockport Doggies with an impressive 20-16 victory in the Premiere Division final.
“I think, we had a little extra incentive having lost to them last year,” said Mystic team captain Chris O’Donnell, whose team trailed by a point at the half (6-5) but was able to assume command over the final 30 minutes of play.
“They (Brockport) play more of a bruising style of rugby where we like to spread the field and open things up more. Take nothing away from Brockport, but, I think, we were able to dictate style in the second half and that turned out to be the difference in the match.”
In other action, Caves and Ditches, a club out of the Philadelphia area, overcame a huge first-half deficit to emerge with a dramatic 27-24 overtime triumph over the East Side Hyenas (Chicago) in the Club Division championship match. Game MVP Mike Ruggeri booted the game winner in the early stages of the extra period to seal the victory for Caves and Ditches.
“These guys just don’t know they’re not supposed to be able to come all the way back from a deficit like that,” said Caves coach Ed Hiniken, commenting on the 24-7 hole his team found itself in early in the second half.
“This is just a great group of guys. A very fit and athletic group of guys who just don’t know how to give up. This was just a gutty, gutty performance.”
Beantown tuned up for its upcoming league schedule with a solid 22-10 win over a very good MBFG Wedding squad in the Premiere Women’s Division Final.
“We take this tournament very seriously, no doubt about it,” said Beantown coach Rich Ashford. “We’re pretty young as a team, bu, we are used to playing a very high level and I think, at this stage (early in season), we did a lot of good things out there today. It was a good effort for us.”
In another exciting championship tilt, the Schenectady Reds dug themselves out of a 18-8 first-half hole to score a last-minute 20-18 win over White Plains in the Over 35 final.
“We started out a little rough, but once we stopped making mistakes, we turned things around,” said Reds coach Rob Sliwiski. “We cleaned things up a lot after the break and were able to score those two tries that ended up being the difference in the match. These are a great group of guys who really showed an awful lot of character today, coming back the way they did.”
The Old Boys also had their moment in the sun as the Green Mountain Geezers (Vermont) held on to defeat Belleville (Ont.) 17-14 in the Over 45 final.
“This was our fifth trip to this event and we’ve done better with each year,” said Geezers captain Steve Long. “It just feels awesome to finally win this thing.”
Fathers and Sons (Ottawa) held on to defeat the Cardinals (Va.) 18-12 in the Over 50 finals.
‘We always love coming down here,” said Fathers and Sons captain Steve Hicks, who has competed in all but one of Can Am tournaments since its inception. “It can be exhausting playing in this many matches but this a great experience and something we look forward to every year.”
The tournament was opened and closed by a pair of exhibition matches featuring the United States U20 women’s team. The U.S. squad wrapped up things with an exhibition match against a squad comprised of collegiate players.
Can-Am Rugby Tournament
Schenectady Reds 20, White Plains 18
East Side Hyena’s 7, Buffalo 0
Green Mountain Geezers 17, Belleville 14
Warts 10, Lockport 8
Father and Sons 18, Virginia Cardinals 12
Blackthorn 5, Pequea Exiles 0
Men’s Premier Division
Brockport 20, Mystic River 16
Men’s Club Division
Cave and Ditches 27, East Side Hyenas I 24 (OT)
Long Island RFC 47, Amoskeag 5
Men’s Social Division
SURAA 29, Hartford 13
Fathers and Sons 16, Misfits 14
SURAA 14, Father and Sons 12
Brooklyn 22, Brockport Black 17
Morris 22, Old Scarlett 5
Morris 25, Brooklyn 6
Women’s Premier Division
Beantown 22, MBFG Wedding 10
Boston 29, Albany 26
Women’s Club Division
Saratoga 27, Uticuse 15
Severn River 33, Team Pretty 5
Severn River 29, Saratoga 0
Ithaca 27, Hudson Valley 21