KB had been contacted by her former teammates in Detroit to see if she wanted to go to NashBash and play rugby on a reunion side. I figured, cool, I'll see if I can weasel my way in as a ref! Decisions were made, plane tickets were bought, wheels were set in motion. Kristin ended up going to Chicago that weekend to hang with best friend from her childhood days and I ended up going to NashBash on my own dime. Normally if you travel to ref, the society (yours local one, or the one where you are going) pays for it. Since I invited myself, I paid. You will have to ask KB why a friend came before rugby..... I don't understand either. (Oh yeah... thats right... pretty much all my friends are people who are involved in rugby!)
So I reffed 6 games, 4 on Saturday and 1 on Sunday. 4 Women College games, 1 Women club(Sun), and 1 Men Club (Sat). Everything but the mens game was 22.5 minute halves, the men got 30 minute halves because they only got 1 game per day as opposed to the women playing multiples per day. NashBash is more of a chick tournament..... why they don't shaft the men by making them play at 8AM eludes me since chicks have ALWAYS had the 8 AM games for as long as I've been playing rugby.
Anyway.... I was evaluated on the mens club match and I think I did a pretty good job. As a ref, you need 3 evaluations at each level to move up. I am C2 right now. There is D1,C3-1,B3-1,A3-1. A1 is the dude that gets the World Cup Final. I guess Patty O'Brien is like A0 since he is in charge of all refs around the world. You also need 1 out of area evaluation at each level to keep the levels equal between areas. Otherwise Podunk Rugby Union might promote its best ref to B1 or A3 and say, "Yeah, this dude is the best we've ever seen, send him to the World Cup" and the rest of USA rugby is thinking that this knucklehead shouldn't even be allowed a girls high school final.
The other refs were really cool. David Haines runs a heck of a tournament and has to ref at the same time. I personally feel he is stuck doing way too much and things would be a easier on him if he delegated some of the work that lands on his shoulders, but that is my opinion. (He'd get more sleep... thats for sure!) I know if I tried to juggle as much as he did, it would be a disaster.... he seems to keep it down to well run chaos. Picking everyone up from the airport is enough work.... let alone all the other stuff he has to track. Two of the refs from MARFU were guys I used to play against. Very cool. The young kids from Minnasota stole one of the other ref's trailer hitch and license plate Friday night. As he was changing his boots on Sat he found his trailer hitch. Hilarity ensued. As he went to his 1st game he found his license plate under the game ball at mid-field. He hadn't noticed it was missing. More hilarity ensued. I got to meet Al Klemp, one of the few Americans who is ranked high enough to get International games. A lot of people don't like Al because he really doesn't give a shit what you think of him. I dunno, I find that easy to deal with.... there is no mystery about what Al think about you. He can take it as well as dish it out, so I don't have any problems with him.
So, I really enjoyed reffing and it would have been an awesome if that was all I did, but there was more.
I got to see two very special people to me. Kelly and Brittney, I coached both these young ladies when they were Seniors in H.S. at Troy United. They are 2/3s of the Trio that caused me to decide to coach for Troy. The other 1/3 seems to have given up rugby for the moment, but I hope she will come back. They lived in my neighborhood and I used to do extra practice or training with them in the neighborhood park. I love both of them like little sisters and hope them all the best in life. Its great to see them and see they are still doing well. Even though I was so busy I only got to give Brittney a hug and then run off, I got a report about her from Kelly so I know she is doing OK. At the time I left Detroit, the only thing that made me sad was leaving behind the girls from Troy. I still have the picture of them at my wedding on my mantleplace. Dresses + Rugby Jerseys and cleats. I said, "Its a wedding, you have to wear a dress" and left it at that. Pretty funny.
I got to see all KB's old teammates. Some of them I was really close to while I was in Detroit and some I just know in passing, but even rushing about it was just good to see them. Crissy, Timmy, Tamar, Carol, I wish I had time to sit around and talk to you more.. I watched one of your games and it was great seeing old friends. I was bummed you guys left the party so early. Thank God one of your teammates from the new women stuck around to mud wrestle. Jess (dreadlocks) ended up giving me a ride back to my hotel when the other refs bailed on me. Maybe that wasn't such a great deal as I ended up pushing their van out of the mud. Oh yeah... did I mention the HUGE rain storm on Saturday? Yeah.. Rain. Lots of it.
The highlight of the entire weekend for me though...... I put on the Black, Gold, and Red again. I wasn't sure if any of the guys from Detroit would want to see me again. I had sent an email when I left to Drummy and Aussie Rob expressing my frustration with trying to organize a 7s team. I had given up on a Detroit area team and was going to drive to Grand Rapids and play 7s for them. Drummy, for reasons I will NEVER understand, decided to forward that to the entire team. Aussie Rob and I had talked long and hard about the frustrations I was having over the 3 summers I spent in Detroit. Aussie understood where I was coming from. I LOVE 7s. I played for Atlantis down in Trinidad (the country not the town). Playing for Emil was probably the highlight (rugby honors and awards anyway) of my playing days. That is a select group and no matter what else happens, I've always got that Atlantis Jersey. So I sort of figured I had pissed a few people off. I knew guys like Wilk understood where I was coming from and why it went down like it did, but not everyone on the Detroit team was the best man at my wedding.
Well Aussie Rob told me he would probably need a fullback and was I available. Luckily my schedule was such both days that I was free to play. I ended up playing the last 20 minutes at 9 in a completely forgettable game on Saturday. Had that been the weekend, well, whatever. On Sunday though, we strapped it on and took on Scioto Valley. This was a former D-I team that had just been relegated to D-II. I started at #9 again. I can't say it was the best game I've ever played. It wasn't. It wasn't even the best game I've played for Detroit. Offensively I was about the worst scrum half you could have and not want to bench him immediately. My passes were ok, but they did tend to float. Defensively, it was probably the best game I've ever had. The only tackle I "missed" the guy cut back inside and got stapled by Chad Nolan. All I can say is that doesn't show a whole lot of intelligence on his part as Chad is about twice my size in every direction. We lost....... but at the same time, Scioto didn't beat us. We just made lots of mistakes, dropped balls, whatever. When we had the ball, we looked pretty damn good. If Barbio had been there to provide some muscle to the backs, I'm inclined to think the game would have looked a lot different. We tried hard. I'm pretty sure we won the 2nd half. I got to watch a guy (Abdula) who was a complete rookie when I left Detroit score a great try, running 3 guys over. He did the same thing later but dropped the ball on the 5m line. I absolutely wrecked their flyhalf on their 5 m line... I couldn't believe he got up from the hit I laid on him, and I am NOT a big hitter.
I'd like to take this time to thank the Detroit Women. I have played in 3 countries now, for 8 different teams now. I have never played in a place where the men's and women support each other like they do at Detroit. I can still recall the feeling down at the Battleship tournament when we were trying to come back. Me to Jake to Me to JK to Me to Jake again had just hooked up to score an 100m try. OK, granted I chased Baby Jake for most of that distance but, hey, I juked the 1st tackler in my own try zone to start the move! I couldn't breath. I wanted to die. My legs were numb and my head was spinning. I could barely kick the conversion and then drag my ass back to receive the kick off.... I seriously wanted to lie down and die. Then the women started a chant from the sidelines. I wasn't tired anymore. I was ready to run 100m sprint and then fight at the end of it! They did it for me again this weekend. Just cheering, "Go Larry! Great hit".... that has an immense effect on not feeling tired. Thanks Ladies.... you are the greatest.
I got knocked senseless in the 1st half. I have an awesome lump on my head and still have a scar on my nose. But there wasn't a single point in that game that I wasn't having a blast. (OK, the minute I spent on the ground trying to stand up wasn't so hot...) Its something that has really been missing from playing rugby here in Colorado. Boulder was D-I, and that was awesome to know I could hack it at that level. But it wasn't much fun.... it was work. When the whistle blew and I ran though the tunnel of Detroit women and our 1 or 2 drunken subs...... I had tears in my eyes. Rugby was FUN again. If I still lived in Detroit I wouldn't be reffing, I would be playing.
I want to thank the Original Crew: Drummy, Chad, Jake, Mike Park. I spent some awesome years with you guys and it was great to play with you again. Then there are the "new Guys"
: Dannonball, Nolan, Abdula, Todd. Its cool seeing you as the "old crew" now. We only played that last season, but man.... the potential was there. I wish I could go back and play that year over. My favorite year at Detroit, without a doubt, was the one playing with you guys. To all the new guys who let some crazy dude in a red scrum cap come play with them, Thank you. Its your team now.