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Jersey Shore Rugby With Dr. J: High school team turns in gritty effort at states

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By Dr. J. Zimmerman
As I promised in my last column, here are the results of the New Jersey state high school rugby championship. On May 28, the Cape Atlantic Storm Rugby U19 boys team traveled to Cavens Point Road in Jersey City to compete for the New Jersey Division II state championship against Bergen County U19.
On a very hot day, the Storm traveled a bit light, with only 16 players compared to the full 23-man roster of Bergen. (15 players play on the field for each team).
The Storm players showed the true spirit of determination and skill for every minute of the game. With only one substitution available for the Storm, five minutes into the match wing Noel Solomon was injured and Rileigh Marshall, a rookie from Absegami High and the youngest player on the Storm,was called into action for the remaining 55 minutes of the match.
This meant that the Storm did not have any substitutes available for the rest of the game.
The Storm were very strong in the scrums, pushing Bergen off the ball the entire game. The tackling and loose play was fierce with our cunning scrumhalf Jim Rodweller, from Absegami High. Great individual runs by Cody Kiedaisch, Khang Tran, and Deante Dejesus kept us in Bergen’s half of the field.
Truthfully, both teams gave no advantage. The first half ended with Bergen holding a 10-7 lead, with Rich Donofrio of Mainland High School slicing in to score for the Storm and Evan Burton of Pinelands Regional slotting the two-point conversion kick.
The Storm started strong in the second half, but the heat and pace took its toll. Bergen used its rolling subs to its advantage by putting fresh legs into the match at every chance and tightening up the pressure on the Storm players, and eventually posting a 34-14 win.
Bergen scored tries and conversions, as the heat and bright sun took its toll on everyone. The Storm still continued to battle in the scrum and loose play, and late in the half the forward combination of Jason Peralta, Grant Howell, Rich Donofrio and ball carrier Josh Garcia drove the last yards with Garcia dotting the ball over the line for one more try. Evan Burton once again converted and all the young men battled to the final whistle.
Hats off to these brave young men. All of the players have their sights set on the next season and the state championship. Storm players included Howell, Spencer Obrien, Garcia, Tran, Kiedaisch, Donofrio, Sean Lenszch, Peralta, Jim Rodweller, Evan Burton, Anthony Nastasi, Noel Solomon, Dante Lorenzini, Marshall, Dejesus and Jim Martin, and the team was coached by Roger Howell and Roy Burton.
On June 10, the Jersey Shore Sharks men’s rugby club held its 30th anniversary celebration at JD’s Pub in Smithville. More than 50 alumni players mixed with the current team to celebrate the Sharks’ rich rugby history.
Founding member Roger Howell, of Ocean City, regaled attendees with stories of the team’s early days. The highlight of the evening was the induction of former players Paul Guinta (Somers Point) and Jim Schroeder (Port Republic) into the Jersey Shore Rugby Club Hall of Fame.
In addition, the late Frank McBride (Somers Point) was also inducted into the Hall of Fame. Frank was a key player for the Sharks in the late 1980s.
Next up for the Sharks men’s team is the summer sevens season. Sevens is the seven-man version of rugby. Teams play 7 vs. 7 on a 110- x 70-yard field. The game is extremely fast paced with thrilling defense and wide-open scoring. The matches only last 14 minutes, with two seven-minute halves. Teams typically play three matches in one day to advance to quarterfinals, semifinals and championship matches.
Seven-man rugby is seen more on television than the 15-man version of rugby. The short matches allow for TV commercial breaks! Sevens rugby makes its debut in this year’s Olympics.
The Sharks travel on June 18 to the North Penn Sevens Tournament. If anyone is interested in playing or practicing for sevens rugby, the team practices on Tuesday and Thursday evenings in Galloway. Contact me for more information.
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 visit www.JerseyShoreRugby.com or on Facebook at Jersey Shore Rugby Club, or call 609-652-6363 or email Jerseyshoresharks@gmail.com.

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