On Saturday, February 22, your Orlando RFC traveled to Jacksonville to play the rescheduled matrix match. It was a beautiful, sunny day at Huffman Park. The pitch was dry and the wind was an indication that prepared fitness would be of the essence. Jacksonville struck early on a penalty kick. Following the points, a kick for touch resulted in from by all accounts a hard fought goal line stand where the defensive persistence was finally outmatched, with a Jacksonville score. Lack of confidence in officiating aside, the rest of the first half combined with the entire second half saw sloppy, mismanaged breakdowns. The difference came in the second half when Orlando saw multiple, clean attempts at nearly full length pitch tries, two of which were called back with the opposing touch judge and referee determining the runner had gone into touch before grounding the ball. In the second half, Orlando used exceptional open field play and erased a twenty-point deficit down to six, with a prop in the bin nonetheless. After our man was brought back on, another was sent off. Using the man advantage, Jacksonville scored the dagger resulting in a 37 – 24 L for Orlando RFC. Tries scored on the day go to Will Doherty skipping and playing eight, Juan Dengel playing inside center, Sam Nelson playing wing, and Bart Longchamp playing flanker. Orlando awarded Eric Jacovetti (playing scrumhalf) with the Man of the Match honors, a welcome form of encouragement to play at a higher level to finish out the season strongly.
The B-side match was, again, a modified 10s format. Orlando and Jacksonville went blow for blow resulting in a small Jacksonville victory, and a universal, full-blown thirst for payback from the club, in general, for the second trip we make there in three short weeks. No Man of the Match honors were provided for either club, but with more than half the side playing in unfamiliar positions, this match and the first both showcased the obvious talent we possess among our ranks and the even more obvious need to demonstrate it through cooperation.
This week, Orlando RFC hosts its final home match of the year against Naples. We really are grateful for all the continued support and look forward to seeing faces both familiar and unfamiliar at this match. Make no mistake; if you are in attendance you will have a good time. We’ll see you on the pitch.
Match Reports, Men
This weekend Orlando A-side hosted Daytona in a regular season matrix match, while Orlando’s B-side hosted Brevard. The events prior to the match are what true clubs are all about. A call came in from the city at 4pm on Friday stating that all city fields would be closed due to weather. Rather than forfeiting the match, the club banded together to make it happen. Adam Hyche, and Tom Murphy made countless phone calls looking for a viable option. JD Flynn contacted the referee society and Daytona to keep them informed. Chris Quigley reached out to Brevard. Raoul Besse loaded up his truck with goal posts, while Kenny Bernstein located the flags and goal pads. Eric Jacovetti found an auger and everyone showed up prior to the match to create a pitch from scratch. Rather than throwing in the towel, the Orlando boys stepped up.
The conditions were rainy, muddy, and miserable, but it didn’t stop Orlando from putting on a show for the supporters. Tackling was much improved, ball handling was good despite the conditions, and Orlando played to the caliber they’re capable of. Final score on the day was Orlando 46 – Daytona 5. Tries scored on the day go to Dan McGann, Sam Nelson, Chris Sunderhaus, Juan Dengal (2x), Mike Shope, Will Doherty, and Chris Claire. Man of the Match was awarded to Mike Shope for his play at hooker and filling in at flanker when needed. Two Zulus were also performed, but players will not be named so as to protect the innocent from their respective spouses. Orlando’s B-side hosted a traveling Brevard side and kept the intensity up throughout. Everyone saw significant time on the pitch and the new boys were able to showcase their talents. Final Score was Orlando 29 – Brevard 0. Tries were put in by Chris Claire, Chris Quigley, Sam Nelson, and Omar (Tony) Soto. Man of the Match was awarded to the veteran “rookie”, who claims he’s never played but kicks like a pro, Sam Nelson.
Many of you have asked what’s going on with the club after two poor performances against Boca and Lauderdale. Orlando is on the right track and setting itself up for the long-term. If you remember, the club was down to 10 members and 3 ex-com at the end of last season. A strong executive committee was established this year and meetings have been held regularly every month. 4 new positions have been created due to the enthusiasm of transfer players who held leadership positions in the former clubs. A full coaching staff has been named including Eugene Louw (Head Coach), Evan Haigh (Backs), and Tom Murphy (Forwards). A new bar sponsor has been located that is providing monetary sponsorships. The team has engaged in fundraising activities to provide financial stability. A blood drive was recently held for Cannon Wiggins, a two year old diagnosed with Stage 4 Neuroblastoma. Not only was it the most successful blood drive they’ve ever held, but the players donated $438 to the family to supplement their needs. A new application called “Whatsapp” has been implemented to create more bonding amongst the team and many new players have joined the club recently. They need time playing together before success will be consistent on the pitch, but Orlando will get there. Rome wasn’t built in a day, but the infrastructure is now in place to grow the club exponentially. Please join us for the next home match this weekend as Orlando hosts Tampa Krewe.
Match Reports, Men
Saturday, Orlando traveled South to face Naples, the #1 seed in the state. Orlando was missing a good deal of starters, mainly due to injury, but was able to bring a solid side of 22 players despite. The first half of the match was rough as Naples went up by 40 at the half. Orlando’s defense wasn’t attacking as a flat line, and as a result, Naples was able to find the gaps. The counter attacks looked like a 7’s match, and Naples was able to poach the ball at will. Orlando managed a penalty kick and a try with conversion, both by Captain Eugene Louw. One noticeable factor for the Griffins was bickering amongst the team once frustration set in. Halftime primarily focused on being positive, playing as a team, and picking one another up and the second half was far different. Orlando moved the ball well, rucking and ball retention looked good, and Orlando fought back to put up another 38 points in the second forty, outscoring Naples 38-19 in the half. It wasn’t enough, however, as the final score saw Naples walking away with a 69-41 victory.
Some positive notes from Saturday: PJ Scott earned his first start and played brilliant rugby all afternoon, deserving of “Man of the Match.” Phillip Moore, who started his rugby career just a couple of weeks ago, filled in at wing and did very well, Mike Shope, Eugene Louw, and Pedro Tonietto all impressed with their solid play. Despite a disappointing result, I can say I was proud of everyone that travelled. Nobody gave up and everyone walked away with their heads held high. Orlando has it’s final match on 3/16, as they travel south again to play the #2 seed, Boca Raton. Thank you to all of the Old Boys for your support this season.
Match Reports, Men
Orlando traveled well to Ft. Lauderdale this past Saturday. The Griffins came hard out of the gates. This wasn’t a dominating performance, but one in which Orlando was able to move the ball, play aggressive, and do enough things right to put the score at 19-0. Eugene Louw offloaded to Bart Longchamp for a score. Dan Gordon picked a pass and took it to the house for another. Jason Browning took a kick from deep in Orlando territory, virtually untouched, for a 70 meter score.
Then the second half rolled around….
Not sure if it was the long drive down, or the vast number of mental mistakes, or if a magical fairy sprinkled pixie dust to lull the visitor’s to sleep. Whatever the case, Orlando played flat in the second half. Ft. Lauderdale fought back with try after try to take the lead 21-19 and ultimately walked away with their fourth win of the year, 26-19. At one of the most critical points in the season, Orlando failed to show up for an entire half of rugby. Anyone at training this past week could have predicted the outcome. Poor numbers prevented Orlando from having the opportunity to focus on areas for improvement. Orlando will travel again to Naples on March 2nd for another big contest, and finish off the cross-overs at home against Boca Raton on March 9th.
The U-19s played as well but Ft. Lauderdale had their number as well. No word on the score yet.
Match Reports, Men, Youth
Orlando Youth kicked off their season on Saturday with an important home win against neighbors Daytona. The late afternoon kickoff left both sides with great weather for attacking rugby. Orlando recieved the opening kick off and marched right down the field with great forward runs breaking the opposition line and applying early pressure on a dug in Daytona defense. Second rower Maxime Remesey, flankers Adam Gunn and Josh Wilson set the tone early and Orlando was able to score in the 7th minute from a set piece with Gunn finishing off an 8 man pick off the scrum; conversion missed, Orlando 5-0.
Using more tactical kicking to get out of their half Mitchell Wilson kicked deep into touch to set up a line out for Daytona. Orlando jumped on a long line out throw and Maxime Remesy was able to take the mis-throw in and give ORFC their second try, conversion missed, Orlando 10-0.
Daytona wasted no time in getting to the kick off and poor readiness by Orlando saw Daytona recover the restart and shortly after score their first try of the match in the right corner, conversion missed, 10-5 Orlando. Now with there heads up Daytona applied good pressure against Orlando but found very few opportunities credit to great ‘A’ gap defense from Hector De Juan, Nick Plale and company. When Daytona chose to go wide there was little space out there as well with Mark King, Harry Allen and Parker McCormick meeting Daytona before the gain line. Nearing the end of the first half both teams continued aggressive play but it was Orlando that was able to score with Adam Gunn scoring his second try of the match 4 minutes before the halftime whistle, conversion missed, 15-5.
Play stalled somewhat in the second half with both teams struggling to maintain consistant possesion. Hector De Juan, Sam Voegle and captain Jack Ponder all made great runs but Orlando lack suffcient support to finish great runs into points. Anthony Morales was able to take a try in during the 45th minute, conversion made, 22-5. It would be Orlando’s last points of the day. Daytona played well after some Orlando mistakes and were able to score two more tries before the final whistle. Orlando walked out passing their first test as a 22-17 winner. “We did things well but we have more to work on.” said captain Jacob Ponder. “We are going to work hard to fix our mistakes and be prepared for the Trojans” added junior hooker Nick Plale.
The Junior Griffins will be in action next on February 16th as they travel to Ft. Lauderdale to play the Taravella Trojans. We would like to thank all supporters and members that came to support Saturday.
Tries: Gunn (2), Remesey, Morales
Conversions: M. Wilson 1-4
Man of the Match: Josh Wilson
Hit of the Match: Hector De Juan
Match Reports, Youth