Virginia Cardinals Rugby

Ft.Lauderdale Champions/35 and 45 divisions

Mark Fowler,Mala in support

Cheeko,John Carr,Tim Spruill,Russ Simoes,Kieth Wright,Mike Old

Ft. Lauderdale Ruggerfest-Master Division Feb 28,29 2004

Well,gentlemen, it doesn't get much sweeter. Does it? The Cardinals swept into town with over 50 motivated players and took both the 35's and 45's championship. Seven match victories in two days. We can all feel gratified and proud of this accomplishment. A tour of this magnitude does not simply fall into place or wait for the stars to align. We reaped the harvest of a collaborative effort that involved many dedicated rugby men. We have to start with Mike Puopolo's sporting competiveness and desire to see us in Ft. Lauderdale last August,and Reyn Kinzey's immediate support and committment to the tour last summer. Very special recognition to John Ellis and Bill Gardner for assembling the talent. Yet,most important, thanks to all the players that made all the sacrifices to get to Ft.Lauderdale and play hard. We will explore more of the play further into this report.

We were all struck by all the support we received from our mates that participated on the tour but could not play,such as,former US Eagle,Otis Purvis,Danny Lonergan,Jerry Gilfoyle,former US Eagle,Bill Russell,John Fleming,Billy Cauthorn,and Basil Nesbit. Many family members were there,like,Bethany,Elsie, Kathleen,Michell and others I did not have the pleasure of meeting. Also,because we traveled with over 50 players,some of our mates got fractional playing time. In many ways,its harder to stroll the touchline then to make the tackles. Thanks to all those fellas for honoring the "no bitching clause" in their rugby tour contract.

Click here for photos by Russ

I have a collage of memories in regard to our play. Compelled to start with Mark Fowler's appearance at 10 with the 35's. His leadership and play was impecable throughout. Our first match v Albany started with strong physical play. At point of defensive contact,Mark made 5 of the first tackles off recycled ball. He set the tone and then proceeded to direct his backline to stunning success with scores starting from 40 to 50 meters out. David Dean,Vince Granger and Malakai Delai were on fire. Mark Fowler has not been an active player for some years but this weekend the years melted away; he ruled the pitch with imperial authority.

Standing left to right Darden Couch,Mark Fowler,Steve Yeager,Kieth Maclean,Vince Granger,Andy Truesdale,John Via,David Dean,Frank Punch,Malakai Delai,Al Lucas,Tree,Larry Sweger
Knelling Bill Gardner,Skip Yeager,Chris Petrakes,John Lawrence,Sturar Corker,Darin Darden,Will Thornton,Chris Porter,Dave King,Andy Mattocks

Mike Old's lineout play for the 45's was titanic;his workrate and ability to snag the ball constantly amazed. Lance Vandecastle was the rock and leader with the 45 pack play. James Painter at flanker was powerful and mobile. Tom Sarisky was everywhere. Mike Herron and Danny Patterson still tackle like youngsters and Cheeko,at scrumhalf, is about as cagey as they come. Mike Wright was a hustling maniac. Mike Puopolo has incredible legs for a 45 and made repeated strikes from 10 well past the gain line. Pete Sweet still has the magic and Terry at fullback has game and tricks that came out of nowhere. Lex Macubbin was nifty at scrumhalf and flanker.
45 Flankers Tom Sarisky and James Painter

Dave King Crashes thru for the try!

Getting back to the 35's, we all knew we had a backline capable of light warp speed in Porter,Truesdale,Petrakes,Granger,Dean,and Delai yet the surprise came from the pack. Without a lineout monster we struggled a bit but no matter. The pack played like it was their last day on earth. Steve Yeager made the hits at flanker time after time;his face was a bloody swollen mess from mutliple contacts,but Steve kept coming. Scored a nice try too. Andy Mattocks was everywhere getting our adversary on the ground. Barney's support in the fray was always apparent. Will Thorton at flanker,really a center, fooled them all with his gritty play. Dave King at prop scored a couple of trys. Stuart Corker dotted down in the corner. Larry Sweger who is really a flanker/scrumhalf thrived at prop. These guys did everything Mark Fowler asked of them. While our looseies were pounding away with the first contact, our locks John Via,Darden Couch,and Frank Punch had to take on the the next wave of attackers off the recycled ball. It was bitter hand to hand combat and determined resolve. The intensity was off the chart.

Standing left to right Jerry Gilfoyle,Tom Sarisky,Steve,Mike Wright,Lance Vandecastle,Danny Patterson,James Painter,Tim Spruill,Mike Old,Bill Brownley,Matt Godek, Lex MacCubbin,Cheeko,John Carr
Kneeling Mike Herron,Pete Sweet,Marty Edrich,Mike Puopolo,John Ellis
Seated or laying down Steve Burgess,Russ Simoes,Kieth Wright,Colin Crawfford,Cary Kennedy,Reyn Kinzey,Alan Larivee

Video Stream WMV files stored online:

Dave King Scores
Mala to Barney for the Try
Mike touches down
Steve Yeager Scores

With our backline so potent our pack had to deal with every dirty trick and act of intimidation to slow down the ball. Everyone knew that if we could get the ball to Mark, the opposition was doomed. The 35 pack,although undersized and fitted with players out of their natural positions prevailed. They were warriors.

Returning to the 45's, our tight five of Keith Wright,Tim Spruill,and Marty Edrich,locks Lance Vandecastle and John Carr were a joy to see scrumminging. Their power and confidence sent the message early to our opponents any nonsense would not be tolerated. The 45's pack was able to drive,maul, and produce plenty of ball.


Chris Porter,Andy Truesdale,The Centers
Dave King,Darin Darden,Larry Sweger,The Front Row
Kieth Wright and John Ellis
Colin Crawford,Lance Vandecastle

Mike Puopolo and lovely,Bethany

In summation, we had players on both sides with trully impressive rugby resumes,yet despite all the expectations of success, I could not get over the effort and will to win this weekend and the team comraderie from players and supporters alike.

It all came together for us; we will all remember this one for a long time.

We can expect pictures and video stream added to these pages soon. Our readers are encouraged to forward any pictures or post match recollections that I will gladly add to our website.

Respectfully submitted,

Post Match Awards:

Amazing--Mark Fowler,he did it all
Hostile and Agile--James Painter
Smallest guy to score a try--Stuart Corker
The Rocketeer--David Dean
Hails from Mt.Olympus--Bill Gardner
Best Boots--Malakai Delai
Most Appreciated--Danny Lonergan (for hauling us beers)
Best Legs--Mike Puopolo
Trickiest--Terry ,Lex's old mate
Slick as glass--Skip Yeager and Cheeko
Best halftime chat--John Ellis
The Rock--Chris Porter
Maul Master--Colin Crawford
Most Flexible--Vince Granger
Highest scoring prop--Dave King
Fastest guy without a neck--Barney
Hand to hand trench warrior--John Via
Only guy to fall down with the ball,get up and score--John Lawrence
Got game--Frank Punch
Tackling maniac--Mike Wright
Biggest hooker-Tim Spruill
Best Hands--Mike Old
Quiet talent--Pete Sweet
Legend--Otis Purvis
Most Matches--Kieth Wright
Newest Dad--Bill Russell
Highest SAT--Jerry Gilfoyle
The Coolest--Chris Petrakes
Best boxing career--John Fleming
Silent but violent--Marty Edrich
Everywhere--Andy Mattocks
Best looking after the Tourney--Steve Yeager
Best tackle--Danny Patterson
Always ready--John Carr
Icon--Basil Nesbit
Never stopped--Daren Couch

Results for the 35s

Va 31 Albany 5
Va 19 Philly Whitemarsh 3
Va 34 Manhattan Presidential Select 7
Va 15 Tobacco Road 8

Results for the 45s

Va 16 Niagra Old Boys 5
Va 20 Ft.Lauderdale Old Boys
Va 10 Florida Old Boys 0

Archival on pre tourney prep for Ft.Lauderdale 2004 ,