NOTE: There are links in here that are worth clicking… and more pix on Johnathan Wicklow Barberie’s Facebook Page.
BROOKLYN, NY – We had the pleasure of being part of the Liberty Cup, an excellent tournament/tribute to our collective Fallen Heroes from the military, Fire Departments and Police Departments. The tournament, run by the likable John Tinsley, who roamed the grounds with a Rubber Duckie necklace not just because he’s a fashion trend-setter, but also (conspiracy theorists click here) to be more easily found – “You see the guy with the rubber duckie?” Tinsely made his way from Thousand Islands High School in Clayton, NY to being a Chiropractic Clinician in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. That’s right, Malaysia. And yes, he held this tourney in Brooklyn – Floyd Bennett Field, to be precise.
Why would anyone follow this rubber-duckie-wearing, beach-comber-esque dude from Small Town, USA, who via Palmer College end up at International Medical University and now traverses across the globe in the name of rugby, to this event? Well, the answer is simple, really. The Cause.
The Liberty Cup was started in 2007 by the N.Y.P.D and Bragg RFC, to honor the Fallen Heroes of 9/11. It was decided that it would be held every two years and has now expanded to include global participants and Women’s teams. When you combine the great game of rugby and and even better cause, you’ve got something special. And this was special. The weather was perfect after Malaysian Rainy Season Rain pelted NYC for much of the week. Indeed, the field turf some of us so often curse, proved to be the saving grace as the teams weren’t left to slog through mud and puddles. Sure, that would have been fun, but the rugby wouldn’t have been nearly as entertaining.
And entertaining it was. Crunching hits, exciting runs, well-executed plays… The competitive juices were being squeezed to the last drop. Ever get a bunch of cops and firemen in the same room? Try getting them on the pitch pitted against each other… Or a team from Chicago vs a team from NYC? How about London’s Metro Police playing against some good ol’ boys from the American South? Between 3M (Mixed Motley Militia), the Gypsies and Bragg boys, there were more than a few… And we haven’t even mentioned the ladies! Squads wearing pink and calling themselves Team Pretty or the Wild Rose will get the extra attention when the ref’s not looking… Just ask those damned Sinners.
This year’s format had 8 Men’s 15s teams playing one 15-minute period matches until the later rounds. The Women’s Division had both 7s and 15s, with the 15s following the same format as the men. (We bet we got something wrong here and expect to hear from the NYPD’s #2, Lou).
For the Men, hometown heroes the NYPD and FDNY held court for the likes of Chicago Blue, Gyspy Men…
…and the gents from Quantico, 3M, Bragg and the London Metro Police – from all the way across the pond.
All of the above brought excitement, spirit and most importantly a shared feeling of having fun to this salute of women and men that have given the ultimate sacrifice… and you can bet that those honored would be ticked if it were any other way. That’s not to say the day wasn’t without some tear-jerking moments. The opening Roll Call for those who passed, with Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Bryan Battaglia leading the salute, was one… And the day’s end, with the awards being doled out, had roller-coaster emotions from smiles, hugs, tears and laughter. From tough guys and tough women, from big towns and small, from all walks of life – including Commander Robert Broadhurst, who headed Security for the London Olympics.
The awards were even butch! Guns, knives and hatchets mounted to slabs of hand-chopped sequoias (maybe not) made losing the Cup almost fun. Almost. Thankfully, none of these “utensils” were used against this reporter, who was voted “Worst Commentator Ever” by a vocal portion of those in attendance. Fortunately, few of the participants came into the booth to break up the jabbering. All were forthcoming about the solemnity of the event, those they’ll never forget and – with very little prodding – which team they’d like to beat most. The FDNY are rumored to still be looking for their cars; seems the NYPD had them towed. Joking, of course…
As it turned out, Gypsy Rugby came within a bounce or two of the egg from sweeping the day, but while their Women’s teams captured the Cups in the 15s and 7s, the men came up short vs the visitors from Mother England in a great final, 12-5. For all results, click here.
Two of our favorite moments of levity came when the English blokes, Paul Brooks and Tom Pearson, came in and took over the play-by-play and color commentary… and when Socks McGillicuddy of the Chicago Blue bombed with his not-very politically-correct impersonations. Good times.
Suffice to say, we’re looking forward to next year.
SPECIAL THANKS to the London Metro Police’s Neil Sinclair (formerly of the Harlequins) for giving our Matt McCarthy the gift of their team tie. It meant a lot and it was worn to the funeral of Mike O’Mahoney’s mom last week… Mike is a New York Rugby Club Legend, hailed as The King from Queens. He’s also an FBI agent. Another hero off the pitch – and a speedy wing without a Liberty Cup team. You can find him in Pittsburgh. Have at it recruiters/investigators!
P.s… Thanks to Darren Maynard for many great photos… And apologies for the delay – major computer drive issues.