Our CRC 7s Roadtrip: Governors, Authors, Players, Coaches, Shady Hotels

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Junoir: "It's 90 miles to Philly, we've got a full tank of gas, an empty case of beer, rain is predicted and we're wearing sunglasses." Matt: "Hit it."
Blaber

Hell’s Kitchen, NYC – Last week we talked about the CRC7s and the state of USA College Rugby and led with a picture of John Belushi in Animal House. Well, after my trip to Philly for the College Rugby Championship with Matt McCarthy, the only lead photo that would be appropriate would include John Belushi again – this time in the epic Blues Brothers. This trip was one for the ages. Here are the events as the transpired:

The trip begins with yours truly and Matt, hurriedly grabbing all the stuff we need as didn’t get the green light to go from RWU co-founder Johnathan Wicklow Barberie to do media for the for the event. If Plan A is flying by the seat of your pants, we are on Plan C right now,  5 Hail Marys and a couple three Rosaries, for getting everything in line.

Did I mention that I’m not the most reliabe co-pilot? I have Google Maps on my phone, I just forget to check it for the right exits because I love the roadtrip talk. After missing a few exits, a couple of re-routes and asking a cop, we get to PPL Park.

As we enter the stadium, I am impressed by the view and how state-of-the-art the stadium is. Only knock is how many flights of stairs we have to walk to get to the Media Press Box, which Matt negotiates more easily than me, despite his torn calf. The guy survived a season of Old Boys rugby, an ice hockey season in which he was more goon than scorer and life as a catcher in a hardball baseball league but tears a calf jogging?! That’s why I don’t jog.

Anyway, once there we settle in to watch some of the rugby and it doesn’t take long for there to be a huge talking point. Life University comes back to beat Penn State ( a PSU team featuring 2 Alumni from the NYRC U-19, Arnold Chavis and Chris Vakasisikakala) due to the NBC Sports’Miller Minute,” a rule implemented for the network coverage which stops the clock after a try in the second half with less than a minute to go. We later discuss this rule with USA Ref Greg Gilliam, the video of the discussion will be out shortly. Anyway, instead of time running out after Life scores to make in 17-14, it stops with 4 seconds left. In a perfect storm of utter calamity for Penn State, Life takes the restart in for the game-winning try and a stunning 19-17 victory.

Yours Truly dutifully researching important details

After that thriller of a match, we review the team line-ups and our background research on the players & take some pictures of the Aviva Premiership Cup, courtesy of the Head of Community for Premiership Rugby, Wayne Morris. Wayne was there with Mark Griffin, the man leading Play Rugby USA’s march to bring youth rugby to all corners of the USA. Wayne tells us how his department functions similarly to PlayRugby USA, however they have the full backing of the 12 Premiership clubs and two former Premiership Clubs in the Championship Division. We finish with Wayne, watch some more rugby, including the NYRC U-19 Girls in the co-current HS Tourney.

As we are about to call it a successful first day, we find out we don’t have a hotel room and our finger-pointing proves fruitless. We find one that says it is near the center of Philly and immediately book with them. NOTE: There is a difference between someone telling you they live South of the Bronx and in the South Bronx. We end up in South Philly in a “shady” hotel. So we lock the doors and windows and get to our hotel after initially ignoring the GPS, which was correctly taking us away from city centre. Once there, we relax with $3.30 beers – cold ones were extra – before finishing up across the street at the counter of The Diner for  Philly Cheesesteaks & fries.

Jay Atkinson with Vandals' Security Detail, Aloke & Royal

We are up early on Sunday and are busy from the start bumping into rugby savant & author, Jay Atkinson, who is at the tourney as a guest with his excellent new book, “Memoirs of a Rugby-Playing Man.” I end up fighting off people in line just to buy a book – look for the video next week, which will be part of JWB’s interview with Jay. In the book there is a chapter dedicated to the Friday Afternoon Drinking Club. We should start the RWU/NYC Chapter. If you are interested you can find me on Twitter: @JunoirBlaber and also follow RWU: @RugbyWrapUp… I am thinking the a German bar but open to ideas.

JWB, then lines up Matt to interview Al Caravelli, Peter Tiberio and Alex Magalby, so off we go. Unfortunately, our intern forgets to mention that we’re missing a digit in Al’s phone number and after an unsuccessful Caravelli search, we agree to reschedule…

Peter Tiberio, who is prepping to play in the final with Arizona vs his Team USA head coach and Dartmouth, meets us for his interview with Matt and JWB – who is elsewhere in the stadium… It goes shockingly smooth(ly)… Later, we hear that JWB was hobnobbing with VIPs like Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Randell, and that’s why he couldn’t stand next to Matt and Peter in the interview.

Next, we hurry to speak with Alex Magleby just before kick-off of the CRC Championship Final. Here is the end-product which again, went remarkably well.

After the interviews and some more rugby, we head home. Of course we got lost again while listening to NY Mets on the radio – did I mention I was a lousy co-pilot? But all is good as we end our trip at German Beer House in Harlem – that is NOT a misprint. From there head our separate ways home. What an adventure…

Until next time…  Stay Low and keep pumping those legs.

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About Junoir Blaber 868 Articles
Born in Osu, Accra, Ghana, West Africa, Junoir Blaber is a rare commodity; while most Ghanians eat, sleep and dream Soccer (football), Junoir is all about Rugby. A self-proclaimed Rugbyologist, he has been involved in Rugby as a ref, coach, administrator and player since Columbus discovered Ohio. His useful/trivial rugby knowledge qualify Blaber as RWU's Senior Correspondent & known in rugby circles as The Rugby Rain Man. He can also be found moonlighting for our American partners at MeetTheMatts.com.