French Quarter Festival Tournament RECAP:
The New Orleans French Quarter Festival is a Thursday-Sunday event held on the banks of the Mississippi overlooking the french quarter. It is a free event and the bands are the best New Orleans has to offer. Funk, soul, blues, jazz, cajun/zydeco. all of the top restaurants are a short walk from the music stages, and additional performances continue into the wee hours at the bar music venues.The time of year is perfect weather-wise. Lows in mid to low 60s and highs in upper 70s to low 80s, with a dependable breeze coming from the south across the river. I can not remember it ever raining for this festival. Also, coastal saltwater fishing for speckled trout and redfish is in its peak at this time and charters are reasonable. 30 minutes from New Orleans and you are in prime “sow ” trout territory.
Sorry, but as you can tell I am high on the extra curricular opportunities for FQF Tournmnet participants.
NOW TO RUGBY
This rugby tournament was first played in 2006, I believe, and is the brainchild of Tim Falcon, longtime New Orleans and former LSU prop.
It is a one day play affair, to allow participants to enjoy the fest and all the rest that New Orleans has to offer.
Last year served as the backdrop for the New Orleans v Crescent City rugby (cross town rivals) “bury the hatchet” match.
This year coincided with the Tulane University Rugby Reunion. Pete Maud, the founder of the Tulane team in 1967 and the New Orleans squad in 1973, was honored with an autographed leather ball and dubbed great grandfather of New Orleans rugby. Nostalgia ran rampant as several former green wave ruggers, including Fred King and Ty Yokum, took to the pitch again after 30+ years in hibernation. In addition Tulane had dozens of ex ruggers designated with “spectator in the rain” status, including Billy Merritt, Fran Thompson, Jerry Cave, Bill Schwartz, Jack Adams, Henry Hahn, Bob Uhrann, Bob Edmundson,Tom Crosby, and Maud. Other spectaors in the rain (non-Tulane) included: Ronnie Virgets, Gene Gerdes, TR Rainey, Monte Lunn, Philip Lachin, Mark Neeb(sorry I didn’t get to say hello mark), Harpoon Midkiff who ended up playing anyway, Robert Socha, Steven McGinity, Mumbles Moore, Timmy Martin, Chris Gillen, and Jack Mauer.
Although typically this tournament has been “masters”, or simply over 35, for the first time this year it was decided to allow an over 50 exhibition match to promote over 50 rugby in the gulf coast area. The system is simple, every over 50 player shows up , pays 20 bucks, and is randomly assigned to one of two teams. This had been successfully done at the 2011 Battleship tournament for the first time, to go along with their 35+ division that has been played at that tournament for years.
The plan for this years’ tournament changed when the Virginia Cardinals notified tournament Director Dale Thayer that although they could not muster an over 35 team, they would be sending an over 50 side. This was a tournament changer, to get a team of Virginia’s caliber to attend with the first ever over 50 division squad. It also raised the bar of the level of over 50 rugby from social to top level competitive.
The over 50 teams were Virginia, New Orleans Vieux Garcons (old boys en francais), and a third motley team calling themselves Les Bons Baissers, ( if you go to a french dictionary this would translate “the good kissers”, but every frenchperson knows it means good fuckers (thanks to ORB Sweetpea for that name). Les Bons Baissers were ably coached (herded like cats?) by Sweetpea, who was injured but showed up nonetheless. Le Bons Baissers had players from many different sources: a sizeable Mobile Battleship Old Boy contingent including Lars Grenade, Kahley Malloy, Dean Wood, Dale Wood, Greg “Keg” Roberts, and Doug “Dougby” Bryant; Florida Old Boys Henry Hemstead and Jerry Razer; ex LSU stalwart(Phil Aucoin); ex ole miss forward Tim Joffrion; over 50 newbie Henry Roop, SLU oldsters Sam Hyde and Claude Lowe; and some vieux garcons switch hitting whores.
Enough name dropping.
The first match between Vieux Garcons and Virginia started promptly at 9. Virginia was at the pitch at least an hour before match time, stretching, warming up, and going over plays and assignments. Les Vieux Garcons arrived at a more leisurely pace….. up to about 15 minutes before match time….. but were ready to play when the whistle blew. The game started out with several knocks,drops, and missed opportunities by both sides. Virginia however proved opportunistic (scored on quick line out while Vieux Garcons were trotting to the lineout), overall much fitter and much younger. They only had 18 players though and never seemed to tire of the fast pace they set. They constantly supported the ball and continued to make passes in some excellent multiple phase attack rugby. Vieux Garcons had several breaks, and penetrated deep into Cardinal territory several times, but simply could not finish off any of them… Despite herculean efforts by Sam Farnet , Gary Giepert, and JR “Podnuh”Vendetto. Final score 27 Virginia, Vieux Garcons 0.
The next match pitted Les Bons Baissers v Les Vieux Garcons. I don’t recall the score, but Vieux Garcons won something like 4 tries to 2.
The final 50+ match of the day, Les Bons Baissers v Virginia was not pretty for the goodfuckers against a clicking on all cylinders Cardinal squad. Final score something like 50-10.
Hats off to the Cardinals. They came to town and took care of business. As those of us who play them in Aspen and Fort Lauderdale know, you need to bring your “A” game to beat them and anything less will just not be enough.
In the 35+ division, participating teams were New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Memphis, and Texas ROT. The finals pitted Baton Rouge v New Orleans. However, New Orleans forfeited and Baton Rouge hauled home the hardware (many of the Vieux Garcons and also played on the 35 squad and after 4-5 games were simply too exhausted, crippled, or buzzed (or all of the above??) to play another.
In summary, the tournament was a good one, everyone had all the rugby they could ever care to play in a day at age 50. Free beer on the pitch all day long. Shoulder dislocations, torn biceps, pulled groins, but nothing serious.
The tournament will reconvene next year, and all who have an interest in a good time with a day’s worth of good rugby thrown in needs to get this one on your calendar. Send me your email address if you were not getting my group emails.
For over 50 rugby to continue to grow and provide adequate opportunity for those interested in reviving long lost rugby careers, simply adding your name to an email list, or being the designated drinker at the pitch helps keep it alive.
Thanks to all of you who allowed me to use your name in vain, it is/was for a worthy cause.
And I know I have forgotten many of my rugby brothers’ names that should have been included. But, shit, i’m hitting 60 in a few months.
See ya’ll at Saranac, Aspen, Battleship and Fort Lauderdale, FQF 2013 and any other 50+ opportunity.
Oh yes, again Huntsville has an over 50 match at their 10s tournament May 12. JBShaps@yahoo.com for details