Can-Am tourney ends with nail-biter

BLOOMINGDALE – It was only fitting that after four days of rugby, the biggest and final game of the Can-Am Rugby Tournament came down to one play in an intense game featuring a United States team against a Canadian one.

With only seconds left, the East Side Hyenas team that consisted mostly of players from Detroit missed a three-point kick that would have given them a one-point win. Instead, the ball sailed wide right and Fathers and Sons, consisting of players from Ottawa and Toronto, took home a 17-15 victory in the championship game of the Men’s Club Division Sunday afternoon at the Bloomingdale Fire Department field.

“Growing up watching our dads win championship after championship, I know personally I have been here since I was born,” said Fathers and Sons player Mason Dingwall. “To finally win a championship for ourselves feels great out there, especially in a close game against a tough team. It was pretty cool to be Canada versus the United States – all of them with their jerseys on there. It was pretty cool.”

The East Side Hyenas were wearing red, white and blue uniforms that had stars on them like the American flag. The Canadian team was in red jerseys.

The Fathers and Sons team grew out of the Missing Legends, a team that has been attending the Can-Am Rugby Tournament for decades. About four years ago, the Missing Legends joined with their sons to form the Fathers and Sons teams. They had teams in the over-50 division and the Men’s Club division.

“You know, the best part is I played with my two sons,” said Fathers and Sons player/coach Kurt Dingwall, father of Mason. “I got on the field for the last two minutes of the game and got stuck in. I was on a championship team here that wonthe prime division in 1986, and to come back here 28 years later, to be able to still compete with my boys It was an awesome match.”

Kurt Dingwall’s other son, Miles, also said the win was awesome and that he was tense until the final moments.

“I couldn’t watch that final kick,” he said. “I had my back to it, and I just knew the final whistle was coming, so I just kind of didn’t look, and I heard the reaction of the crowd and he missed it. Then the whistle went and it was awesome. It was euphoria.”

East Side Hyenas captain Conrad Bontrager said it was a fun but disappointing game for his team, but he had respect for the Fathers and Sons squad.

“It’s always disappointing to lose, but I told the guys when you lose a game like that – a tight, hard-fought game against a good team – it doesn’t sting as bad,” he said. “Because you know we gave everything we had to win it, so it was fun.”

In the women’s Club Division, it was a whole different atmosphere. The championship game featured two teams from the New York Rugby Club in New York City. Leading up to the championship game, the New York Rugby Club had two teams: New York, consisting of younger players, and Old Love, consisting of seasoned veterans. In the championship game, the club mixed squads not wanting to compete against each other.

“I think it’s incredibly special and what’s really good about it is the Old Love women, they’re national champions,” New York Rugby coach Will Snape said. “They have real reputations in our club and have set the standard for us to follow. So it means so much for us to come together and play today.”

In the men’s Social Division, Slippery Rock University alumni in Pennsylvania beat Morris for the championship. The team consisted of players who hadn’t been together as a team in about a decade.

“We always talked about getting together, and it was cool that we could still win and have a great time doing it,” said Slippery Rock captain Brian Beauregard.

As for local teams, both the men’s and women’s Mountaineers teams made it to Sunday morning. They played all their games in Saranac Lake. Games were also played in Lake Placid.

The women won their consolation semifinal match 19-14 over Morris in sudden-death overtime early Sunday. A couple hours later, they lost to the Misfits 27-17 in the consolation finals match. That put them in fourth place overall in the women’s Club Division.

“I think it went way better than we were expecting,” said Mountaineer captain Katie O’Reilly Morgan. “We haven’t had a lot of practices as a full team. I personally haven’t been here for several months and then to come in here and make it to the second day and then to make it to the consolation finals – that’s pretty fantastic.”

On Saturday, the Mountaineers women beat Syracuse Alumni 28-0 in the morning, before losing to Old Love of the New York Rugby Club 46-5 in the early afternoon. They finished the day with a 22-0 win over North Buffalo.

On Sunday, The Mountaineers men’s team lost to Mystic River in the consolation semifinals by a score of 24-14. On Saturday, the Mountaineers lost to Keene State Alumni 17-15 in the morning, then beat the Barbarian Herd and Old Gold by scores of 20-0 and 19-0 in the afternoon and evening.

“They’ve done very well,” Mountaineers coach and tournament director Jay Annis said. “They had a hard time coming together over the summer. Numbers have been had to work on, but we have a bunch of U-19s that have come up through and are really having a lot of fun.

“Forrest and Kevin Morgan really stepped it up. They’ve done really well. My team captain Cam Moody has done exceptional. He’s a good leader and he’s a good president of the Mountaineers.”

One down note for the tournament occurred Sunday morning when a player had to be taken to the hospital during the 11 a.m. Brockport versus Connecticut Greys over-45 championship game in Bloomingdale. The player was taken by Saranac Lake Rescue Squad ambulance to Adirondack Health in Saranac Lake. He was then helicoptered to Fletcher Allen Medical Center in Burlington. It was unclear whether the man’s medical condition was related to an injury he suffered on the field or if he had a pre-existing medical condition. Tournament officials didn’t have any further information about the man.