By DR. J. ZIMMERMAN
The Jersey Shore Sharks played their last home match of the season, against the Hibernian Rugby Football Club of Levittown, Pa., on Nov. 12, and came away with a resounding 42-12 victory.
This was an official division match of the Eastern Pennsylvania Rugby Union. Both clubs compete in the men’s club D3 division of the E.P.R.U.
The Sharks won the coin toss and opted to receive the opening kickoff. The kickoff did not go the required distance of 10 meters, so the Sharks got the choice of a re-kick (which is never done. If you see me in a pub somewhere, ask me to tell you the story of when I was captain and opted to take a re-kick on the initial play of the game when the kickoff did not go 10 meters. It did not go well. Thus the statement, “re-kicks are never done”) or the choice of a scrum down in the center of the field.
The Sharks chose the scrum, which was a very wise choice. Once the ball game out of the back of the Sharkss scrum, the Sharks charged down the field with momentous force.
With 10 meters left to go before the try line, Sharks prop Rob “Pringles” Lundburg, of EHT, was given the ball and he bulldozed over the try line, scoring five points at the 74-second mark. Fullback Ryan Fugee (ACCC) kicked the two-point conversion for a 7-0 lead.
Three minutes into the match, the Hibernians were driving their way toward the mid-field mark when Lundburg stopped a Hibos player and held him up from the ground until his support players arrived.
If you can keep a player from moving forward and from going to the ground to release the ball, the referee will award the defensive team the ball.
Thanks to “Pringles” the Sharks were awarded the ball and the scrum, which they proceeded to win.
The Sharks maintained possession of the ball for some time, but before a score could be made, the Hibernians recaptured the ball and headed back down the field. The Sharks demonstrated major defensive improvements over the last few weeks (who says practice doesn’t make perfect?) and stopped the Hibos at every turn.
The Sharks regained possession when the Hibernians kicked the ball out of bounds to escape the defensive pressure. With the ball solidly in hand, multi-phases of play — including bruising runs from inside center Rick Azlegio (Stockton) — led to a 35-meter breakaway run from Sharks wing Chris Giraudin (Stockton).
Chris plowed through a few players before finding the open spot, which allowed him to use his speed to score over the try line at the 16-minute mark. Fugee once again kicked the two point conversion.
One of the most interesting parts of a rugby match is when a team scores points, the ball is kicked back to the scoring team again.
The Hibos’ kickoff to the Sharks led to a multi-phase attack that ended with Sharks outside center Mike Plumber (Cape May) scoring in the corner for five points.
Once again the ball was re-kicked back to the Sharks. The Sharks’ forwards took possession, and with spirited play by loose forwards J.C. Carr (Galloway), Ollie Leadbeater (Linwood) and Nick Frantz (Galloway), the ball marched down the field. Second row player Alex Brigden (Mays Landing) took the ball from a “pop” pass and crashed his huge 6-3, 250-pound body over the try line. Fugee once again kicked the 2-point conversion.
The Sharks were on the receiving end of another kickoff when they lost the ball due to a hard-hitting Hibernian’s tackle.
The Hibos took solid control for the next few moments, until Sharks hooker Ken Connelly (Millville) ripped the ball from the Hibos player and the Sharks regained control.
The Sharks used grinders and rhinos to move down the field with forward possession at the breakdown. The breakdown is a rugby term that refers to when a player is tackled, he must release the ball. The team’s forwards or backs become support players and form a wall preventing the opposing team from stealing the ball.
Grinders are quick plays in which a player picks up the ball and crashes at the opposition, gaining a meter of field at a time. Rhinos are short passes to the big guys running at full speed hoping to open up a hole in the defense and gain 5-to-10 meters of field at a shot.
Or, in the case of second row Sharks player David Collette (Galloway), break through the line and score a 5-point try at the 38 minute mark.
Half time score: Sharks 30, Hibernians 0.
About 17 minutes into the second half, Carr, a former Rowan University rugby team captain, broke through many Hibernian players with his powerful running and quick sidesteps to score five more points for the Sharks.
For the next 10 minutes, possession changed hands frequently with neither team able to score.
At that point, the Hibernians were able to march their way down the field to the goal line. The Hibos kept trying to push the ball into the try zone, but were thwarted by an extremely tough goal-line defense, led in part by Sharks prop forward Michael Lorge.
Just inches from the goal line, the Sharks’ kept the Hibos from scoring even after multiple phases of play.
Finally, the Sharks stole the ball, keeping the Hibernians from scoring. Sadly for the Sharks, they were able to kick the ball downfield to escape offensive pressure, but the Hibos quickly returned the ball, breaking through and eluding tacklers to score a try in the center of the posts. The Hibos also made the 2-point conversion to cut the deficit to 36-7.
Late in the match, the Hibernians scored once more with brilliant multi-phase play. This time, they scored in the corner and could not make the conversion attempt.
With seven minutes left in the match, Sharks forwards Brian Kilcoyne (Galloway), Dave Connelly (Millville), Jim Rentshier(Galloway), Bobby Ransom (Cape May) and Felix Borges (Ocean City) put the pressure on the Hibernians to regain the ball.
With ball in hand, the Sharks decided that they would not end this game without scoring again. Sharks backs did what they do best, as scrum half Rich Moder (Galloway) got the ball to fly half Jim Tchir (Toms River), and Tchir eluded multiple players before off-loading to inside center Corey McCurty (Sicklerville). Corey ran through players before passing off to outside center Tim Lenzch Jr. (Somers Point). Lenzch was able to get the ball to wing Tim Capille (Port Republic), who eluded tacklers before getting the ball to fullback John Abadie (Cape May).
Abadie was able to run upfield until being tackled. As he was going down, he popped a pass to Giraudin, who burst through the Hibos’ defense to score the final try of the match at the 78-minute mark. Giraudin also kicked the 2-point conversion to make it 42-12.
This was a great way to end the last home match of the season. Moder was named “Man of the Match” for his spirited, yet controlled play. He was able to set up many of the scores you just read about.
If you would like to watch the match, the match was recorded and is on YouTube. Search Jersey Shore Rugby vs. Hibernians.
On a final note, the Jersey Shore Youth Co-ed Tag rugby season ended on Nov. 11. Children ages 6-14 had eight weeks of rugby action. We had more than 40 children participate this season. Youth Rugby will take place again in March. If you are interested, contact me for more info. The same goes for our men’s club. We are always welcome to new players ages 18 and up. If you go to one of our local colleges and haven’t found the right sport yet, rugby may be for you. It’s student friendly as far as time goes. Only two evening practices a week.
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 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.
By DR. J. ZIMMERMAN