Seven Can-Am champions crowned in Bloomingdale

BLOOMINGDALE – Seven teams claimed championship titles Sunday in the 40th annual Can-Am Rugby Tournament during final matches played at the field behind the Bloomingdale Fire Department.

Caves and Ditches, Beantown and Fathers and Sons were three teams who were able to defend the titles they won a year ago, while Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves, the Dirty Merkins, Wild Rovers and Connecticut Grey were newly crowned champions.

In the final match of the day, Caves and Ditches rolled to a 45-3 victory over Buffalo to win the men’s club division championship for the second straight summer and the third time in five years.

After triumphing in overtime in the final in 2012, the team that included many Temple University graduates left no doubt that they would repeat the feat again on Sunday. Caves and Ditches started the weekend Saturday with a forfeit win, and then battled to a pair of close victories later in the day – a 20-17 win over Mystic River and a 22-10 triumph against the Syracuse Alumni – to advance to the final.

On the championship pitch in Bloomingdale, Caves and Ditches scored quickly and never looked back.

“Last year, we carried a 24-3 lead into halftime, but we had to win it in overtime,” Caves and Ditches captain Bryan Christ said. “We were in the same situation again, so we knew we couldn’t let our foot off the pedal.

“We are essentially a team of Temple University alumni, and we have a few guys from New York and Boston mixed in,” Christ continued. “This is the only time we get together each year, and I think this is the best team we’ve brought up here. This is the weekend we gather together and come here to get it done. Not only do we want to win, we want to play exciting rugby for the fans. I think we accomplished the mission.”

For the second year in a row, Beantown captured the women’s premier division title, topping the Old Girls 26-10. The Old Girls, who again had Saranac Lake’s Stacey Annis playing on the team, beat Beantown 5-0 in overtime Saturday in opening-round play, and scored the first try in the championship match for and early 5-0 lead. Beantown, however, notched all but five of the game’s next points to claim another championship at the Can-Am Tournament.

“We fixed a few things that we didn’t do right against them the first time around,” Beantown club president Kelly Seary said. “We lost a lot of our own scrums, and although we had a lot of possession, we made some mistakes,

“Today, we played at a faster pace,” Seary continued. “We were one of the first women’s teams to play in this tournament, and I wasn’t even born yet. We always use this tournament to kick off our fall season. I guess we’re off to a good start.”

When it comes to a powerhouse team in the Can-Am, Fathers and Sons has been one of the most dominant sides that has appeared in the event. Playing in the over-50 Division, the veterans from the Ottawa area who were formerly called the Myths and Legends, rolled to their 14 consecutive title with a 31-0 shutout win over the Virginia Cardinals.

“This is the 35th year I’ve been here, and we always have a fun time,” said a fit 63-year-old Lee Powell of Fathers and Sons. “We used to be called Myths and Legends, but we changed our name because we have fathers and sons playing on the same team.

“We come here because we love the game and the camaraderie of the sport,” Powell added. “As a group, I think we’ve won 21 titles here. It’s always a great tournament.”

In the other championship matches, Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves cruised past South Buffalo in the men’s social division, the Dirty Merkins defeated the Miss-Fits 34-7 in the women’s social division, the Wild Rovers edged White Plains to take the men’s over-35 title, and the Connecticut Grey blanked the USMC Old Breed Woodlands 15-0 to win the over-45 title.

Saranac Lake’s Jan Plumadore, who was one of the first members of the Mountaineers and a tournament founder, was on hand to watch the action Sunday in Bloomingdale.

“I can’t believe how fast the years have gone by,” Plumadore said. “We are now into the fourth and fifth generations of people who have wanted to step up and take this tournament over, and I’m so proud of all the people who have had their hands in this.

“What’s really great is there are people who play in this tournament now who are also watching their grandchildren play,” Plumadore added. “This tournament started with eight teams when our club was in its infancy, and it doubled the following year. We began this to have some fun, and as a thank you to teams that put up with us when we were just learning the game of rugby. We started it, but it’s the people who took over who have done all the fine tuning.”

This year’s Can-Am Tournament also featured a men’s over-55 division with matches played Friday in Saranac Lake. In that division, Cardinals Rugby posted a 2-0 record with a 13-0 win over Odds and Sods and a 19-7 victory against Blackthorne.