2005-03-18 / Sports

Firemen Defeat Cops In St. Patrick’s Day Rugby Showdown

Saturday March 5 marked the official start of spring on the Rockaway Penninsula. The Rockaway St. Patrick’s Day Parade reminded residents that warm weather and outdoor fun was just around the corner.

With sunshine and temps in the 50’s, mother nature provided good marching weather in addition to fair conditions for the annual Police/Fire Rugby Match at Fort Tilden. The Finest and Bravest kicked off the days events with a spirited match contested on a thin blanket of snow that cushioned a still frozen field.

Both side seemed bothered by the snow and a surprisingly good first of season match was played by both sides. The Firemen prevailed 38-7 in a match that was much closer than the score would indicate.

The firemen opened the scoring early with multiphase pack play, moving the ball straight down the field in bruising fashion. The less experienced NYPD side was overwhelmed at first by the stronger and more seasoned FDNY side. Mike Turchiano rumbled into the try zone off a series of well played rucks and put the Bravest up 5-0. Kevin Wrafter kicked the conversion and the Bravest led 7-0. The cops got their bearings as the half wore on and contested the firemen every step of the way. The Bravest had several scoring chances thwarted by last second tackles, keeping the NYPD in the match.

The cops picked up a score off a blocked kick inside Bravest territory, knotting the affair at 7. The Bravest continued to dominate, but failed to put the cops at a serious disadvantage on the scoreboard. Scott “The Human Bowling Ball” Annicelli smashed in for a second Bravest score, with Wrafter adding the conversion and a penalty kick to put the Bravest up 17-7 at half. The match was up for grabs and both sides wanted it very badly.

The cops continued to exhibit spirited play and tough tackling at the start of the second stanza. The firemen, however began to finish their attacks and pulled away quickly. Turchiano notched a second try and Vlad “The Russian Impaler” pierced the NYPD defense shortly thereafter, putting the Bravest up 31-7. Though the outcome appeared certain, the NYPD continued to fight hard, penetrating deep into Bravest territory on several occasions only to be turned away by the now clicking Bravest defense. Another try by “Former Local Ladies Man” Tyrone Sperling, who made a celebrity appearance when the outcome was no longer in doubt, closed out the game.

The match concluded without a single scuffle, argument, or extra-curricular disagreement, with both sides displaying great sportsmanship throughout the day.  A post game/ post parade bash at the Rugby Clubhouse, featuring Irish bands Shaleileigh Law and Wine With Sue capped a great afternoon. Both sides will meet again in an exhibition match later this spring. 

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