By DR. J. ZIMMERMAN
If I were to say that the 2017 Atlantic City Rugby Invitational was a success, it would be a gross understatement.
This year’s rugby tournament was absolutely outstanding in all categories and has definitely set the bar very high for future rugby events to match.
First off, after days of sketchy weather and a rainy Friday, Saturday’s weather on May 6 was perfect for rugby (aside from the wind, which cost us a few pop-up tents!). Sunny and moderate temps provided a great day for the players and the fans.
More than 500 people were on hand to enjoy the festivities at the Shark’s Rugby Complex in Veteran’s Park in Galloway Township. Not only did the fans enjoy action-packed rugby, they were also able to enjoy award-winning barbecue food (outstanding ribs!) from Pork Island Barbecue. The owner, Jim House, is an Sharks alumni rugby player. His food was a big hit with the fans.
The Sharks also had on hand the mobile Rita’s Water Ice truck, serving up Rita’s most popular ices. If it was a bit warmer out, I’m sure they would have sold out.
The other non-rugby popular attraction was the beer garden under the big-top tent. Harrison Beverage provided the beer trailer and we were able to serve some very good beer to adult spectators.
Lastly, the Sharks’ merchandise was extremely popular, with tournament T-shirts, stainless steel beer cups, car magnets and bracelets almost selling out. There was even a vendor at the field selling Celtic kilts and other Celtic goods.
A tournament can have great food, lots of cool merchandise and plenty of fans, but if the tournament doesn’t have good rugby competition, it won’t be as successful. And the competition at the AC Rugby Invitational was extremely competitive.
Eight teams from around the Northeast were invited to participate. The Vermont Mad River Rugby Club, Princeton Athletic Club, the Philadelphia Hibernians, Amish Assassins from Lancaster, Pa., the Brooklyn N.Y. Rugby Club, Baltimore-Chesapeake Rugby Club and the Delmarva Delaware Rugby Club joined the Jersey Shore Sharks to make this event the big success that it was.
As for the results, winning may be the ultimate goal, but sometimes the hard work and effort is just as rewarding. The Sharks took third place in the Atlantic City Rugby Invitational with victories over Baltimore-Chesapeake, Brooklyn and the Amish Assassins rugby clubs. The Sharks’ only loss was in the opening match, to the Mad River Vermont Rugby Club, 14 -12.
Mad River went on to take second place, while losing to the tournament champions, Princeton Athletic Club.
As the head coach of the Sharks, I was extremely proud of the performance by all of my players. Especially in the battle match for third place. The Sharks had a knock-down, blow-for-blow battle with the Amish Assassins. It was definitely the most grueling match of the day-long tourney (and being the fourth match for the Sharks made it even more so).
The Sharks’ inside center, Mike Guggenheim, was named Shark’s Man of the Tournament for his outstanding play in all four matches.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank our sponsors and the people who made this event possible. Thank you to Galloway Township (Recreation Dept., Public Works, mayor and council, EMT ambulance squad), Petrosh Tents, Waszen Sanitation and Harrison Beverage. Thanks to Rothman Clinic for providing the athletic trainer.
Special thanks to our sponsors, Shea’s Café, Tripicians Macaroons, Jersey Shore Sports Medicine, Health First Chiropractic Clinics, Green Tree Mortgage, Morgan Stanley’s Chuck Malamut-financial specialist, the Schroeder Law Group, C & R Appliance of Galloway (Ron Spinelli), SportsClips Haircuts, White Horse Wine and Spirits, Primo Pizza of Galloway and Brigantine, New Vista’s Corporation, Canterbury Rugby Supply, Atlantic Medical Imaging, Farley and Ferry Realty, JD’s Pub and Grill (The Shark’s home pub), Dolan, Bell and Marsella Accountants and Rita’s Water Ice of Absecon.
Lastly, thank you to all the Sharks alumni, wives and girlfriends who helped out all day long at all of our tables. Thanks the Sharks’ high school team for pitching in all day as well.
It was a great day of rugby and the Sharks should be proud as they played their best rugby of the season! Get some rest today, we have a match on Saturday!
Dr. J. Zimmerman is the president of the Jersey Shore Rugby Club Board of Directors. He is the men’s club head coach and director of youth rugby. Dr. J. is also the team chiropractor. For more information on Jersey Shore Sharks Rugby, including our High School rugby team, or if you are interested in playing, visit www.JerseyShoreRugby.com or on Facebook at Jersey Shore Rugby Club, or call 609-652-6363, email: Jerseyshoresharks@gmail.com.