04.28.2007 - Match report: Blues vs. Pearl City RFC Result and Recap April 28th
...At a newly renovated Blue River Park. Playing on a much-improved surface, the Blues were up against a major challenge in the Pearl City Bears. The Bears, led by a maximum contingent of foreign players, and directed by USA Eagles assistant coach Adam Friend, had already secured a top-8 seed at D1 Nationals, and came into Kansas City with bragging rights from their 54-5 victory over the Blues in the 2006 Show-Me Classic final last fall. The Blues however, bouyed by a three-match winning streak, had every intention of upsetting the upstart Bears.
Pearl City owned the early stages of the match, controlling possession and territory en route to three successive tries, and a 19-0 lead. However, after settling down a defensive pattern that allowed the Bears to exploit early overloads out wide, the Blues were able to retain possession of their own for the first extended period of time on the day. Taking advantage of the hard running of flankers Rocky Sao and Matt Tali, the Blues pushed deep into Pearl City territory, before Number 8 Joey Shirley pounded in a try on a misdirection movement off of a 15m attacking lineout. Pablo Carrera slipped on his conversion attempt and it sailed just wide, but the Blues
were rejuvinated by their ability to exploit gaps and poor tackling by Pearl City.
Trailing 19-5 at the 20-minute mark, the hometown side woke up the Bears to the fact that there was indeed a lot of match left. Pearl City was able to run a series of successful movements to
regain momentum, scoring two more tries in the ensuing 15 minutes despite an improved defensive effort from the Blues. With time winding down in the half, and trailing 31-5, the Blues charged back into the Bears half. Lock Tony Vaka and center Jim Crompton made a number of
gainline-breaking attacking runs, before flyhalf Caleb George, who directed the attack well
all day, broke two tackles on a 10m scamper towards the try-zone to score an extended-arm 5-pointer. Carrera was good on his conversion, and the hosts had narrowed the lead slightly to 31-12.
Off the restart, with momentum carrying them through another successful run at the Pearl City defense, the Blues launched one last attack on the Pearl City try-line that ended with an unlucky Blues knock-on, completing the half. Trailing 31-12, the Blues took the retart in the 2nd half and
picked-up where they had left off, as Crompton completed a series of phases by finding center-to-wing Jay Allen bursting over the line for a quick try.
Carrera nailed the conversion, bringing the Blues to within 12 points (31-19) with almost an entire half to play. Pearl City answered back with an unconverted try, before Carrera slotted a penalty goal to keep the Blues in the hunt.
Trailing 36-22, Kansas City was able to utilize some fresh legs in prop Mike Vick and lock Derek Mannell. Both had an immediate impact on the game, as the Blues were able to maul Pearl City effectively for the first time all day.
However, Pearl City utilized there own bench to off-set the Blues changes, and began pulling away in the final 20 minutes as they ran in two more converted tries. Down 50-22, the Blues refused to hang their heads and kept the pressure on Pearl City until the final whistle.
The 50-22 defeat drops the Blues record to 6-8-1 with two matches remaining in their 'friendly' season.
In the reserve match, the Blues accomodated Pearl City with a 10's game that the visitors won, 35-24 over an exhausted Blues contingent.
The Blues will host the Omaha GOATS this Saturday (May 5) at the Kansas City Kansas Community College soccer park for a 1:30pm kick-off.
KC Blues 22 Pearl City 50
Tries: Joey Shirley, Caleb George, Jay Allen
Conv: Pablo Carrera 2/3
Pens: Pablo Carrera 1/1
1. Adam Windsor (Mike Vick @ 50)
2. Panama Hoover
3. Ed Mouse
4. Bubba George
5. Tony Vaka
6. Matt Tali
7. Rocky Sao
8. Joey Shirley
9. Keith Engle (Kowalski @ 60)
10. Caleb George
11. Pete Kowalski (Matt Gunter @ 40, Derek Mannell @ 65)
12. Jay Allen
13. Jim Crompton
14. Steve Sharkey
15. Pablo Carrera
05.05.2007 - Match report: Blues v GOATS Result and Recap May 5th
Paced by a dominant opening 20 minutes in which wing Pablo Carrera converted two of his own tries, and slotted a conversion, the Blues took an early 17-point lead behind strong running from flanker Jay Allen and center Jim Crompton. However, the GOATS battled back in the later part of the half as the Blues inexplicably went flat. Lucky to only surrender 7 points to the visiting side, the Blues nonetheless allowed Omaha to camp out in their half for much of the 2nd quarter of the match. At the half-time break, holding a 17-7 lead, it was clear that the Blues needed to turn things around if they were to remain in control of the match.
Flanker Kia Tuala replaced the injured Joey Shirley in the back-row, and got things started for the Blues in the second half. Tuala, who had previously scored 4 tries against the GOATS in an April 2006 match, got the Blues on the board in the second-half with an early try that Carrera converted (24-7) in the 45th minute. The GOATS kept moving forward however, running in two quick converted strikes in the next 10 minutes, one of them an impressive 80-meter scamper, to bring themselves within 3 points (24-21). The match remained close for the next 6 minutes until Crompton took a break through the GOATS backline before chipping ahead to winger Marshall Lurtz, who recovered the ball on the bounce and broke two tackles en-route to a converted try (31-21).
Omaha punished a Blues turnover deep in the KC end with a quick try, narrowing the lead slightly with only 10 minutes left to play (31-28). However, Crompton again set-up a good-looking score when he capped off a mis-direction and found a streaking Jon Vula hitting the gap at pace. Vula raced in from 60 meters out, and dotted down for the final score of the day. Carrera's conversion brought his personal haul for the day to 23 points, and the Blues closed out the match with a 38-28 victory over the hard-charging GOATS.
KC Blues Line-Up
Adam Windsor (Mike Vick @ 40)
Tony Vaka (Max Tallis @ 72)
Bubba George (Brian English @ 60)
Jay Allen (Tommy Sicola @ 72)
Joey Shirley (Kia Tuala @ 30)
Pete Kowalski (Vince Pastorino @ 70)
Matt Gunter (Jon Vula @ 40)
KC Blues 38 Omaha GOATS 28
Tries: Carrera 2, Lurtz, Tuala, Vula
Conv: Carrera 5/5
Pens: Carrera 1/2
05.12.2007 - Match report: Blues v Ramblers Result and Recap May 12th
The Ramblers traveled light to Kansas City without any reserves, but were game early on. The Blues broke open the scoring after a few minutes of an early back and forth battle for possession, as center Jay Allen crashed through the Ramblers defense for the first try of the day. Wing Pablo Carrera converted the try, and the Blues kept the attack up for the ensuing 35 minutes, running in four more tries (all converted) to take a 35-0 halftime lead.
In the second half the Blues picked up where they had left off, running in 6 additional tries (5 converted), and holding the Ramblers scoreless despite a few close attacks by the visitors. At the final whistle, the Blues emerged 75-0 winners over their friends from St. Louis, with fullback Steve Sharkey scoring a hat-trick, and Carrera leading all scorers for the second weekend in a row, pulling down a personal haul of 25 points behind one try and 10 of 11 conversions.
KC Blues 75 St. Louis Ramblers 0
Tries: Sharkey (3), Allen, Carrera, Lurtz, Mouse, Sao, Shirley, Tuala, Vula
Conv: Carrera 10/11
Mike Vick (Adam Windsor @ 40)
Ashley Pouche (Tony Vaka @ 40)
Bubba George (Matt Potchad @ 65)
Brian English (Kia Tuala @ 40)
Rocky Sao (Max Gallegos @ 40)
Pete Kowalski (Vince Pastorino @ 65)
Caleb George (Keith Engle @ 65)
Jon Vula (Matt Gunter @ 40)
Steve Sharkey (Jim Crompton @ 40
Junior Blues Win Westerns!
Author: Vince Pastorino
On Sunday, for the right to be the #3 seed at Nationals in Salt Lake City, UT on May 18th & 19th, the Blues came out on fire versus the #1 West Seed from Texas - Alliance, TX. This team looked like a college side and had only one loss on the season to perennnial National powerhouse, Highland, UT. Alliance had steam rolled the competition in Texas, with their closest game this spring coming the day before versus Woodlands in a victory, 19-5. That game was the first time a Texas team had scored on Alliance all year.
The Jr. Blues came out prepared to cut down the bigger Alliance pack, ruck like Blues team of the past, feed our speed outside and play mistake free rugby. They did everything we asked and more.
The backline orchestrated a beautiful, wide, multi-passed try from about 65 meters out about 7 minutes into the game. Conversion was good, for a 7-0 lead. Alliance came right back and scored, but missed the conversion to make it 7-5 Jr. Blues.
Midway thru the first half, the Jr. Blues backline once again, broke the defense after our forward back continuely out-rucked the larger side, winning ball after ball. The conversion was good for a 14-5 lead. After two penalty kicks from our fullback, the halftime score was 20-5, for Jr. Blues lead.
The second half saw the Jr. Blues just miss three more scores for try, however they did connect on two more penalties for a late lead of 26-5. Our kicker was 6 of 8 on kick attempts, and just missed a penatly kick from the halfway 50 meter line (we played on a regulation size pitch). With a few minutes remaining, there was a dust-up in the corner which resulted in a yellow and red card for the Jr. Blues side, leaving us with 13 players. We gave up a meaningless unconverted try with two minutes left to make the final score 26-10 Jr. Blues. Celebration ensued and the Texas crowd left stunned. It was a true "a la Blue" victory.
The Jr. Blues need any support you can offer, and make sure you say hello to many of the kids who plan on attending 7's this summer. I plan to help coach the 7's program as much as possible this summer.
Blues Selected to Play for USA Classic Eagles vs. Canada
Former Blues Doug Brown, Eric Masterson, and Vince Pastorino, and current Blues players Tim Kluempers and Michael Skahan, have all been chosen to play against Canada on June 16, 2007, in Stone Hill, NJ. Former Blues Brad Hughes and Steve Robke have also been named to the pool, and will serve as reserves for the Canada match.
The players selected to the Classic Eagle Squad have 8 weeks in which to prepare for their annual fixture against Canada, and owe the Canucks a little payback from the Bermuda Classic in 2006. In their last meeting in Bermuda, Canada beat the Eagles 15-10, after Team America had beaten them handily three previous times in a row.
Congrats to our Blues for their continued success at the representative-level, and best of luck to you guys in New Jersey!
Jr. Blues 4TH PLACE NATIONALLY!
Last weekend, in sunny Salt Lake City, Utah, the Kansas City Junior Blues and its 24-man traveling squad, entered Nationals with their highest seeding ever and best opportunity to win a national championship in its 15 year history as a club. The boys came up short, but stay united, played very tough and still finished with its highest placement ever (the previous highest placement was 6th place). There were several stand outs on this year's club, but we found out it takes a lot more than the 15 players on the field. The Jr. Blues were up against the three other teams (those who placed higher in the standings), who average 80-100 players in each of their respective programs. Recruitment of Kansas City area players and development of a second and third side will be the focus of next year's coaching staff. The 2007 Jr. Blues have now set the standard for all future Jr. Blues teams.
The Jr. Blues entered the National Tier A Championships as the 3rd seed and opened the competition against Tacoma who occupied the 6th seed on the main field. The Blues scored early and often in the first half, using a quick, hard hitting rucking style in the pack while winning ball for the speedy backline. The first try was scored on the right wing, by winger Joe Hopfinger. Conversion was unsuccessful. The next score came after several movements, with fullback Joe D'Agostino touching down, but again the kick was missed. The last and final try was scored by a bit of scampering through the forwards by the scrumhalf, Casey Cummings. Another difficult kick was just wide from the sideline. The halftime score was 15-0, and left Tacoma trying to come up with a way to cross midfield into Jr. Blues territory. The second half was more of the same, but the Jr. Blues attack ended in two penalty goals converted by Joe D'Agostino, making the score 21-0. The Jr. Blues reserves, after several substitutions with ten minutes left in the game, played defense, securing the shutout and the quarterfinal victory. The Jr. Blues knew they had to rely on that defense in the next matchup in the semifinals versus perennial National Champion, Highland. This victory was a total team effort as 21 players entered the game, and it was the Jr. Blues first victory at Nationals in many years.
The semifinals were played on the main field in front of a stadium of people in what was essentially a home field advantage for Highland and their 80 players on the sideline. Highland came out hard early, with an enormous pack and extremely fast backs. A quick try and conversion made it 7-0 Highland. After another try and conversion, the Jr. Blue's flyhalf, James Poli, kicked through the Highland's attacking backline defense, continuing to dribble the ball past the fullback and almost to the tryline, where he scooped the ball and was tackled. James Poli then reached for the tryline, believing he was not held by the fullback tackler, but was called for a double movement and the referee pulled the ball back to the spot of a Highland offside penalty. The Jr. Blues standout and captain, Donovan Stabler, elected for a penalty goal attempt, but the effort was wide left. Highland tacked on another try by their talented flyhalf before halftime, making the score 19-0. The Jr. Blues, feeling outmanned and outgunned, still put forward a tremedous effort, especially on defense, but still gave up two more unconverted tries in the second half leaving the score 29-0 Highland. The Jr. Blues did not have many opportunities to score in the game, but when they were close to scoring, they were thwarted by a referre whistle, a Highland tackle or a just minor mistake on their part which kept them scoreless. Lou Groff, Donovan Stable, Casey Cummings, Kenny Cochran, Jake Dull, Jack Hasty and many others competed especially hard in the trenches, and our talented backline could not find the ball or space when they had the ball. Scrums were won, but the lineout ball hurt our attack. Size and speed does have its merits, but our boys played with the heart of a champion. In the end, Highland showed why they are a National powerhouse, through their size, talent and overwhelming depth.
The Jr. Blues recovered with a famous Eddie Cummings' ice bath and set their mind to winning third place the next day. They would face perennial National contender, Penn from South Bend, Indiana. With a large fan base and huge number of players and coaches, Penn was another large foe the smaller Jr. Blues side would have to face. The boys came out on fire, scoring in the first minute of the game after several successive rucks off the kickoff, found flanker Jack Hasty over the line. Joe D'Agostino converted, giving the Jr. Blues a quick 7-0 lead. Five minutes later found #8 and captain, Donovan Stabler, take a won scrum from the base up the weak side, brushing off the wing's attempt at tackle for a try in the corner. The kick was unsuccessful, but gave a 12-0 lead to the Jr. Blues early. The start could not have been better for the Jr. Blues. But Penn came back with their pick and go rucking and up and under kicking game, to come back for a tie before the half. Penn scored and converted early in the second half to take a 19-12 lead with just over 15 minutes remaining. Two of Penn's three tries came on quick taps and a dash to the line. Obviously the Jr. Blues looked a bit tired after a grueling three games in two days with limited depth in reserves, but they mustered up enough of an offense, going uphill and against the wind to tie the score with 10 minutes remaining. Once again, it was the captain, Donovan Stabler, taking the ball over the line near the right post, which was followed by a conversion. The referee played a part in this game, handing out a yellow card to a Penn center for throwing a punch in the first half, and then two yellow cards to the Jr. Blues, one to our prop, Deuce, for a huge hit against Penn's large second row for not wrapping the tackle (he hit the #5 so hard it would have been difficult to wrap anyway) and to flyhalf, James Poli, for a third reprimand for holding the ball in a tackle. However, neither team was able to capitalize during these man-advantage series of play. That left the game in overtime.
The Jr. Blues were unlucky on the coin toss, leaving them against the terrain and the wind, and a mishandled kickoff allowed Penn to play in the Jr. Blues end. After a slip in the scrum, the referee decided we had collasped the scrum, even though it was the Jr. Blues put in and there had not been one issue with the scrums all day, giving Penn's kicker a shot at goal from thirty meters out. His kick was questionable, but called good, giving Penn a lead, but with two minutes left. The Jr. Blues mounted a charge in the waning moments down near their 22 line, but could not get off a drop goal attempt or a break through Penn's defense. The score ended Penn 22 and the Jr. Blues 19.
This year's Jr. Blues attained a view of what it takes to become a National Champion and showed that they belonged with today's elite high school rugby teams. No player came away injured, as they played with maxium effort, and that is all the coaches could have asked for from our team. The Jr. Blues A side finished the 2007 campaign with a 10-2 record and a fourth place finish at the National Championships, but I believe many of our players came away with a deep love and admiration of the game of rugby. I hope their desire to play in college and beyond will only come back to the Kansas City Blues in the future. Many of the boys are graduating this year and will attend MU, KU, K-State, Santa Clara, SLU, among other schools. We hope the boys continue with their rugby careers and utilize this great game to create friendships, stay physically fit, keep the competive fire burning, explore the world and enjoy the game. We see bright futures for many of the boys, as well as potential taking their rugby this summer to the next level at the Under 17 and Under 19 U.S. all-star teams. We wish the boys well in all they pursue in life and in rugby, and look forward to carrying on the tradition next year.
Eddie Cummings - Head Coach & Forwards
Craig Smith - Assistant Head Coach & Forwards
Dave Penner - Founder, Backs Coach, Trainer and Reserves Coach
Brian O'Laughlin - Club Manager
Ty Poli - Assistant Coach
Vince Pastorino - Backs Coach
Joe Fridkin - Former Head Coach & Current Kansas City Blues Heach Coach
Young Kansas City Blues rugby players shine on International stages
Contact Name: Peter C. Kowalski
17 year-old Casey Cummings (Kansas City, MO), a junior at Rockhurst High School, recently returned from a 10-day tour to Millfield, England with the United States Rugby Under-17 National Team from April 1 - 10. Despite having lost all three of their matches on tour, the U17s learned valuable lessons in their first exposure to rugby on the International stage, with Cummings especially enjoying the experience overseas.
Cummings, who plays for the Kansas City Jr Blues - the U-19 program of the Kansas City Blues men’s Club – was selected to the first ever assembled U-17 US National Team after a series of try-outs that began early last fall. Along with Casey, 25 other players from around the country made the trip to England to participate in three international matches against Portugal, Romania, and Canada.
As part of the selection process, Casey attended a short, three-a-day session assembly in Texas in late-February. At the assembly and on tour the team was exposed to High Performance routines like ice baths, specific nutrition and hydration schedules, individual skill work, and team building concepts - all of which were intended to allow peak performance at every opportunity, and develop elite-level training habits.
The US U-17 team lost their three matches by scores of 11-8 (Portugal), 27-25 (Romania), and 29-18 (Canada).
Another member of the Blues organization, 19 year-old Levi Johnson (Liberty, MO) is in his third full month overseas playing rugby in Hamilton, New Zealand. A Liberty High School graduate, and former stand-out for both the Jr. Blues and the Blues men’s side, Levi has been playing for the Hamilton Old Boys Colts, the U-21 program of one of New Zealand’s oldest rugby clubs, the Hamilton Old Boys Rugby and Sports Club in the Waikato region of NZ.
Founded in 1913, the Hamilton Old Boys has won more rugby championships and supplied more representative players than any other Waikato Club since 1922. Johnson, who was awarded the Kansas City Blues Most-Improved Player Award prior to his departure for NZ, is living with a host family in Hamilton, on the Waikato River.
Splitting his time between 40hr/wk work-shifts at a local lumber yard and a bicycle shop, and training and playing with the Hamilton Old Boys, Johnson has managed to acquit himself well in his first overseas rugby experience, having earned a starting spot on the U-21 side after their second match of the season. Levi is planning to return to Kansas City, and to the Blues, in December 2007 and will surely bring many amazing experiences from his travels back home.
Joey Shirley to Remain a Blue for 2007 Season
The twenty year-old Shirley, who spent time at both lock and Number 8 this past spring, will remain in Kansas City for the duration of the fall 2007 West D1 League schedule. A force in the lineout at 6’7, he lead the team in tries this past spring running in 8 tries in 17 games, and will be looked upon as a leader this fall.
Joey Shirley is a native of the Kaleen suburb in Canberra, Australia. An Alumnus of St. Edward’s College where he was a stand-out at lock and played for a short time in ACT Brumbies Academy, Shirley most recently played senior grade rugby for Easts Rugby Club in Canberra in 2006.
07.21.2007 - Kansas City Blues 7's Rugby Tournament a Success!
The Kansas City Blues Rugby Club hosted the Kansas City Blues 7s Rugby Tournament, held at the Blue River Soccer Complex in south Kansas City, on Saturday July 21, 2007. The tournament served as the 3rd and final National qualifying tournament for teams from USA Rugby's Western Territory. The West has been awarded 3 seeds for the 2007 National Tournament to be held August 11-12 in Ferndale, WA, and all were finally decided in Kansas City.
Teams participating in the Qualifier Division included last summer's National place winners Denver Barbarians (3rd), and Woodlands Elite of Houston (12th). Additional participants included the Gentlemen of Aspen, Dallas Harlequins, Kansas City Blues, Kansas City United, Queen City RFC, San Antonio, St. Louis Bombers, and the St. Louis Ramblers. The Barbarians had already locked-up one of the West RFU seeds at Nationals, and as a result did not need to compete in KC but chose to anyways. Elite, Aspen, San Antonio, and Dallas were all battling then for the two remaining places.
Undefeated in their pool, the Barbarians defeated Aspen in the semi-final to advance to the championship, a re-match of the Austin Bloodfest 7s final against Elite. A tight game at halftime, the Barbarians opened up the scoring in the 2nd half and emerged winners 35-21 over the Texas-based side. With the victory, Denver grabbed the West's top spot at Nationals (#3 overall), Elite secured the West's 2nd spot at Nationals (#12), and Aspen grabbed the 3rd spot (#16) by default after advancing to semi-finals with a 3-1 record in pool play.
The KC Blues qualifier team turned in their best performance of the summer, going 2-2 in their pool before having to forfeit one of their victories for using a player who had been red carded earlier in the day. Eliminated from points contention as a result, they then opted out of the 7th place match, finishing with an as-good or better record than Queen City RFC, St. Louis Ramblers, KC United, San Antonio, and the Dallas Harlequins.
Congratulations to Joey Shirley, Eric Meyers, Conner Smith, Jay Allen, Paul Zimmer, Pete Kowalski, Matt Gunter, Michael Staab, Steve Sharkey, Marshall Lurtz, Keith Engle, Wes Lillig, and Pablo Carrera, all of whom made sacrifices to play as part of the Qualifier Team this summer. Smith, Meyers, Shirley, Sharkey, and Lurtz featured in all three tournaments (Austin, Denver, and KC).
Along with the Qualifier Division, the event included a Men's Open Division attracting 8 additional men's sides from the region, most notably featuring the KC Islanders, led by Blues Siva Tali, Matt Tali, Rocky Sao, and Fotu Tuavelli, who had already won the River City 7s in Wichita, KS and the Parrotthead 7s in Tulsa, OK this summer. The Islanders won their pool and advanced to the finals, where they faced the KC Blues Brothers, made up of old boys from the Blues 'glory years' when they were regulars at the 15s and 7s National Championships. A tightly contested final, the Islanders ultimately prevailed to remain unbeaten for the summer. The Kansas City Blues social side finished 2-2 in their pool, and gave a number of newer players as well as non-7s players a chance to compete and have a good time.
The event also included a 4-team Women's Open Division, won by the West RFU Selects, and a 4-team Boy's U19 Division, won by the Kansas City Junior Blues.
The Brooksider Sports Bar & Grill hosted the tournament after-party, an event which in itself was a major success. Old Boys linked up with current players, and supporters, and together the entire Blues organization was able to enjoy a very successful event that will hopefully become a regular fixture on the West 7s Qualifier schedule.
Special thanks to Scott Tripp, John Franklin, Steve Jackman, and Joe Fridkin for handling the organization of the entire weekend's events. Countless Blues pitched in to help, most notably Tom Bolin, Derek Mannell, Billy Lonergan, Scott Kram, Dave Penner, Steve Terrill, Mike Schlatter, Jim Schneweis, Tim Kluempers, Bob Willson, Bubba King, Jerry Rutherford, Jeff Lillis, Mark Switzer, Dan McFarland, and Tucker Penner. Current players Brian English, Ashley Pouche, and Jay Allen also helped out all day.
The Kansas City Blues 7s Rugby Tournament was sponsored in part by United Beverage Company, the Brooksider Sports Bar & Grill, Holiday Inn at the Plaza, The Quarterage Hotel, McCoy's Public House, and Platte Rental Supply.
08.01.2007 - Coach Fridkin Announces Coaching Staff Additions
Author: Pete Kowalski
The Kansas City Blues announce the start of their 2007 fall season with the appointment of Tim Kluempers (forwards), Vince Pastorino (backline), and Jonetani Vulaono (backline/technical) as assistant coaches under returning head coach Joe Fridkin. An accomplished coach at the U-19 level with the Junior Blues, Fridkin led the senior side to a turn-around 8-8-1 record this past spring, including the championship at the St. Louis Gateway Ruggerfest in April.
May 2005 - Pastorino checks the clock while Kluempers prepares to engage
The Blues, who enter the West D1 Northern League competition this fall, will rely heavily on the experience and direction that Fridkin’s bolstered staff should provide. Less than 12 months removed from self-relegation from the Super League, expectations are high for the Blues to return to a high level of play during the 2007-2008 competitive season.
Tim Kluempers joins the staff as forwards coach after a long, successful playing career in the front-row. A former captain of the Blues and the West, Kluempers earned 5 Eagle caps from 1996-2001 at prop. He has played for Team America for the past 5 seasons, and most recently served as Head Coach of the St. Thomas Aquinas Saints RFC U-19 side in the spring of ’07. Kluempers will be tasked with molding a young stable of props and hookers that showed a lot of promise last spring, and he welcomes the opportunity.
Vince Pastorino steps in as the backline coach on the heels of a successful campaign as an assistant coach for the Junior Blues side that finished 4th at U-19 Nationals this past spring. A former Blues captain, and West select-side player, Pastorino will also play part-time for the Blues this fall as he prepares for his 2nd trip to the Bermuda Classic with Team America in November.
Jonetani Vulaono will serve as a player/assistant coach for the Blues this fall, lending his technical expertise to Pastorino and Fridkin as it relates to backline movements and patterns of play.
February 2006 - Jon Vula
Vulaono has starred at multiple positions in the backline for the Blues since coming to Club from NOVA in early 2006, and was named the Blues MVP later that year. A player of immense experience at all levels of both 7s and 15s rugby, Vulaono traveled the world with Fiji on the IRB 7s Series from 1999-2001.
Former Blues Stand-Out, Fraser Leavasa In With Samoan National 7s Squad
From an article appearing on www.americanrugbynews.com:
Former New Mexico captain Fraser Leavasa has been included in the train-on squad for the Samoan national sevens team.
The ex-Lobo eightman, who led UNM to the Round of Sixteen last season, has returned home to the South Pacific having completed his studies at the University of New Mexico. Leavasa, who was one of the most damaging runners and among the most ferocious tacklers in college rugby in the past few years, has just completed the Samoan domestic season and played a part in his team winning a national title.
“I’m doing great out here in Samoa,” Leavasa said in an email. “Just got done with rugby season here and we became national champs. I’m currently in the Samoa 7's training squad and preparing for a tour to NZ.”
Ironically, the Samoan national, who is also a US citizen, did not gain favor for All-American selection, didn’t make it onto the US national sevens team, and wasn't included in the Eagle player pool, yet after a short time back home he has done enough to find himself promoted to Samoa’s sevens squad.
During his time in Albuquerque, New Mexico coaches Ian Jones and Shannon Robinson consistently maintained that Leavasa was worthy of representative consideration and in the words of Jones, "He is now lost to US rugby at a time, and from what I saw at the NA4, that the cupboard is bare at back row."
- Posted August 6, 2007 by Brian Lowe
The entire Kansas City Blues organization is elated for Fraser and his latest accomplishment in high-level rugby, and we are certain this will not be the last we hear from him on the international stage.
Fraser was an age grade rep-level player for Samoa growing up, and played for the Blues back in 2002 as a 19 year-old flanker, scoring 7 tries for a side that went 4-2 in the regular season and advanced to the RSL play-offs. Hawaiian-born, Leavasa was eligible for West/USA selection even at that time, however it seems he was over-looked. Ian Jones spotted his talent and brought him into UNM, and he continued to blossom as a Lobo over the ensuing years, earning MVP honors at the West collegiate LAU tournament on more than one occasion, and appearing again for the Blues during the 2005 Super League campaign in which he ran in another 4 tries in only 4 matches.
Leavasa did earn a spot at the USA 7s assembly in San Diego in January 2007, however he saw limited action at the camp due to illness and was unable to perform.
Ft. Lauderdale, 2007: The Blues pull out all the stops to keep Fraser with the Blues...
Fraser played again with the Blues at the Ft. Lauderdale Ruggerfest in late February 2007, helping the team to a 1-2 record in the Premier Division. Fraser then capped his collegiate career off by leading UNM to their first-ever appearance at Collegiate Nationals a few months later, and was even selected by Jack Clark for the Cal ‘All-Foes’ team (over some stiff, International-level competition), for his efforts in leading the Lobos against the Bears.
To lose a player and person of Fraser Leavasa’s caliber to another country's National Team is a loss for USA Rugby, and hopefully one they can overcome in the coming months.
Regardless, the Blues wish the best of luck to Fraser and his family as he pursues his dreams of International Rugby in Samoa!!!
08.18.2007 - 12th Annual Golf Classic Recap
The Kansas City Blues hosted their 12th Annual Golf Classic at Shamrock Hills Golf Club, in Lee's Summit on Saturday. Players, Old Boys, and supporters combined to make up the field of over 60 golfers, all of whom enjoyed themselves despite the scorching conditions.
At $75 per golfer - a donation that included green's fee's, food, and drinks - the Blues kicked-off one of their top fundraising events with a 1:00pm shotgun start. 18 holes later, the group returned to the club house area for more food, drinks, and the annual raffle. Current players mingled with Old Boys, and supporters, in a great environment that was fun for everyone.
The Blues would like to thank Shamrock Hills for hosting us, as well as all of the hole sponsors, raffle prize donors, and other donors who contributed a little 'extra' to the Blues at this year's Classic.
Special thanks to Derek Mannell, in his 4th year as project manager of the Golf Classic. Derek did an excellent job running the event, and serving as MC at the beginning and conclusion, while still managing to squeeze 18 holes in.
Thanks also to Mike Schlatter and Tom Bolin, for keeping the beer cold and the grills going all day. Karen Duffner and Kjrsten Abel Ruch did a great job running the beer cart as well, thanks girls!
08.20.2007 - Levi Johnson Completes Successfull Season in New Zealand
Levi Johnson, red and black #6, in action for Hamilton Old Boys Colts in 2007
One of the Kansas City Blues most promising young players has made some big waves so far in 2007, representing our Club well on some of International rugby’s toughest proving grounds.
19 year-old Levi Johnson (Liberty, MO) just completed a very successful season overseas playing rugby in Hamilton, New Zealand. A Liberty High School graduate, and former stand-out for both the Jr. Blues and still CIPP’d with the Blues men’s side, Levi played this past season for the Hamilton Old Boys Colts, the U-21 program of one of New Zealand’s oldest rugby clubs, the Hamilton Old Boys Rugby and Sports Club in the Waikato region of NZ.
Founded in 1913, the Hamilton Old Boys has won more rugby championships and supplied more representative players than any other Waikato Club since 1922. Johnson, who was awarded the Kansas City Blues Most-Improved Player Award prior to his departure for NZ, has been living with a host family in Hamilton, on the Waikato River.
Levi, sans his trademark dreadlocks... yes, they made him cut 'em off!
Johnson, a native of British Columbia, managed to acquit himself well in his first overseas rugby experience, having earned a starting spot on the U-21 side after their second match of the season. Levi went on to start every game for the colts throughout the remainder of the season, helping to lead the Hamilton side to an overall 13-4 record, and a berth in the league semi-finals where they fell to eventual champions Hamilton Marist.
Throughout the season, Levi developed tremendously both physically and as a player. He had logged a 14.6 in the beep test by mid-season, and one of his highlights was being called up to the senior B’s to replace an injured player in a mid-season match. Taking full advantage of his 20 minute stint by scoring the game-winning try, Levi was awarded Man of the Match. Asked to remain with the senior side for the rest of the year, Levi considered the promotion but instead chose to play out the season with the U-21s.
Levi will remain in New Zealand until his visa expires in December, at which point he will return to Kansas City, and playing for the Blues. In an email, Levi recounted, “I feel like I've learned heaps and stepped my game up not only physically but mentally as well. The pace, physicality, and passion of the game down here is miles above what I've ever experienced before… I played 80 minutes of pretty much every game down here so the old body needs a week or two! So hopefully I can heal up and bring some new dynamics to my time on the pitch for the BLUES in the up and coming spring season!”
The Blues will welcome Levi back to Kansas City for the 2008 spring season, and will proudly send him off for another run in New Zealand beginning in June. Levi elaborated on his decision to return to NZ for their 2008 campaign: “I think the experience showed me that I've progressed as a player and still have room for further improvement... which I think partially [has] led to my decision of coming back to Hamilton for another crack at kiwi rugby next season.”
Levi wishes the Blues luck this fall and is excited to rejoin the Club in December. But for the time being he’ll spend the fall resting, biking and surfing, and keeping up on his impressive fitness levels that are sure to push the rest of the Blues in early ’08. Congrats on a successful run Levi, and we’ll see you in December!
08.25.2007 - County Sundogs Pre-season Scrimmage Recap
Joey Shirley fends off a County defender
The Blues hosted the County Sundogs RFC in a pre-season scrimmage on 8/25 at Kansas City Kansas Community College. Over the course of three 30-minute periods, the Blues utilized multiple line-up combinations and managed to run in 10 tries while holding the young Sundogs side to a penalty kick.
31 different players saw significant playing time, while Bubba George lead the way from flanker and lock for the entire 90-minute session, scoring two tries on the day.
In the forwards, props Ed Mouse and Steve Jackman did very well up front, and split time with Chad Vick, Tim Kluempers, and rookie Pat Rosenthal. Chris Lawler marked his return to the Blues after taking a year off with a solid outing at lock, and Ashley Pouche and newcomer Matt McDougall were effective in the second row as well. Brian English made the return to his old position of flanker with an immediate impact in and around the rucks, as did Matt Tali and Joey Shirley while they patrolled the back-row. Eric Munninghoff was impressive at hooker in his first match since breaking his wrist in late March, as was Panama Hoover who split duties with him. Clint Olearnick stood-out at flanker an Number 8 in his debut with the Blues, scoring two tries, and Jim Schneweis got a run in as well in an effort to loosen-up a little bit before playing Old Boys in Aspen.
Center Jay Allen scoring one of his two tries
In the backline, Jon Vula turned in a great performance at halfback, as did Casey Cummings and Vince Pastorino, who each played one full period. At flyhalf, Robert Reintjes directed traffic well and found space through the seams on numerous occassions, and replacement Caleb George scored a try in the 2nd period at flyhalf. In the centers, Jay Allen was a handful for the Sundogs, as was Matt Gunter. Newcomer Danny Kerr made a good debut for the Blues at center, and Travis Williams returned to the pitch in fine fashion, running in a try late in the 3rd period. In the deep three, Steve Sharkey, Wes Lillig, Marshall Lurtz, and Pablo Carrera each had brilliant moments, as did rookie Billy Racule. The youngest of the group, John Knutsen and Eric Tajkowski, both acquitted themselves quite well in their first run with the Blues.
Clint Olearnick on his way to the try zone
Generally speaking, it was a very good day for the Blues as the scrimmage provided an excellent opportunity to work out some kinks, test new players and combinations, and get everyone some solid game time prior to the season opener in two weeks.
After the match, the Blues hosted County at Breit's Bar in the Strawberry Hill neighborhood of Kansas City, KS and everyone had great time.
09.01.2007 - Blues Select Captains for Fall 2007
The Kansas City Blues have selected a new Captain, and Vice Captain, for the fall 2007 D1 season. 20 year-old Number 8 Joe Shirley has been voted Captain, and 27 year-old lock Ashley Pouche was voted in as Vice Captain.
2007 Captain Joe Shirley
The selection of Shirley as Captain likely makes him the youngest Blue to ever hold the post. However, the forward has immense playing experience, and has emerged as a leader in both 15s and 7s rugby since joining the Blues in January 2007. A native of suburban Kaleen in the ACT (Australian Capital Territory), the 6'7 Shirley came to the Blues as a lock and has been a stand-out both there, and at Number 8, where he will spend most of his time this fall.
Shirely attended St. Edmunds College Canberra (1996-2004), one of the best rugby schools in Australia, where he played in St. Edmunds top age group sides from grades four to ten, and was selected in their first XV in both year eleven and year twelve. Additionally, Shirely played in the ACT representative sides from under twelve’s through to under fifteen's and in the ACT School Boys side in high school. Shirely was also selected to the Australian Rugby Union High Performance Unit (HPU) for 2003-2004, a squad of the best school boy players from all around Australia, and benefitted from the experience of training five times a week with continual testing, under some of the best supervision in world rugby. Shirley was also a member of the shadow squad for the ACT Brumbies Rugby Academy in 2004, and spent the 2005 and 2006 seasons with the Easts RFC in Canberra, on their first grade side.
2007 Vice Captain Ashley Pouche
Ashley Pouche began his rugby career with the Kansas City Junior Blues in 1998. A prop in high school, he moved to the back-row in college, where he served as Captain of the Rockhurst College RFC. A 2002 graduate of Rockhurst, Ashley returned to rugby full-time with the Blues in 2005, and saw action at lock and flanker with the Super League side in his first season back. Ashley emerged as a leader in late 2006, and was nominated as match Captain a number of times in the spring of 2007.
09.01.2007 - Show-Me Rugby Classic in Marceline September 8-9
Midwestern rugby will converge on Marceline, MO on September 8-9, 2007 for a weekend of rugby and family fun in the boyhood hometown of Walt Disney, as Wrenn Insurance and the Magic of Marceline Projects again sponsor the 3rd Annual Show-Me Rugby Classic. After two days, five total rugby matches, and some enjoyable socializing by all participating clubs at last year’s event, the city of Marceline (located 2.5 hours northeast of Kansas City - MAP) and the event coordinators were quick to schedule the third annual fixture for 2007. This year’s event will also include an old fashioned BBQ both Saturday and Sunday afternoon and, on Saturday morning, Foot Races for both children and adults (open to everyone ages 6 and up), a Kite Building/Flying Contest (open to everyone), a Chili Cook-Off and Face Painting. Detailed information can be obtained at www.showmerugby.com.
The Show-Me Classic will again feature some of the best men’s rugby clubs in the Midwest, this time focusing on Missouri teams, as four of the state’s elite Clubs compete for the 2007 Show-Me title in the two-day competition. USA Rugby Super League’s St. Louis Bombers return, and are again joined by former Super League members the Kansas City Blues, as well as Kansas City RFC. Both the Blues and KC RFC compete in USA Rugby’s Division 1. New to this year’s competition is the St. Louis Ramblers RFC. Established in 1933, the Ramblers are the second oldest men’s Club in the United States, and compete today in USA Rugby’s Division 2. The Ramblers replace last year’s Show-Me Champions, Pearl City RFC of Muscatine, IA, as the tournament becomes an All-Missouri event in 2007.
In addition to boasting a four-team field with some National prestige, the Show-Me Classic offers a total prize purse of $3,500 to be split amongst the winners based on finish.
The Blues finished 2nd in 2006
A new addition to the event’s schedule in 2006, and repeating this year, is a men’s collegiate rugby match. Truman State University and Saint Louis University will play an exhibition match to start the weekend’s festivities on Saturday at 12:00pm. Truman State is Missouri’s only collegiate Division 1 team, and takes on a SLU side that plays near the top of the state and regional Division 2 rankings. Adding to the intrigue of the collegiate match-up is the fact that former Truman State and SLU players can be found on the current rosters of all four men’s Clubs competing in the Classic.
The 2005 Show-Me champion Bombers will face the Ramblers in a St. Louis battle to start the tournament round at 1:30pm Saturday. The Kansas City Blues, who finished 2nd at last year’s event, will face cross-town foe KC RFC in a rivalry match at 3:00pm.
On Saturday night all four teams will remain in Marceline, where the tournament sponsors will host the players, supporters, and local fans.
Sunday will feature the consolation match at 12:00pm, and the 2007 Show-Me Rugby Classic Championship will kick-off at 1:30pm. The championship match will be followed by an awards ceremony, complete with jumbo checks and the naming of an All-Tournament team.
Admission is $1 per person, children under 10 free. ALL PROCEEDS BENEFIT THE COTTON CAVANAH YOUTH CENTER.
09.09.2007 - Blues Come Up Just Short in Marceline, Finish 2nd
Blues scrum vs KC RFC
Midwestern rugby converged on Marceline, MO on September 8-9, 2007 for a weekend of rugby and family fun in the boyhood hometown of Walt Disney, as Wrenn Insurance and the Magic of Marceline Projects again sponsored the 3rd Annual Show-Me Rugby Classic.
Along with the 4-team men's tournament and collegiate exhibition match, the event also included an old fashioned BBQ both Saturday and Sunday afternoon, Foot Races for both children and adults, a Kite Building/Flying Contest, a Chili Cook-Off, and Face Painting. Detailed information can be obtained at www.showmerugby.com.
The collegiate exhibition match kick-started the weekend at noon on Saturday, as St. Louis University narrowly lost to Truman State University 11-8. Former Junior Blues players Donovan Stabler and Kelly Mercer, both freshmen, had enormous games for SLU.
Paced by slicing runs from the deep three, outstanding team defense, and improving discipline and ball retention, the Blues defeated KC RFC in dominant fashion in the first round, out-scoring their cross-town rivals 17-0 in the first half before ringing up 28 more points in the second half to close out the game 45-0. 20 year-old winger Wes Lillig was the star of the day, slicing his way through the City defense for 3 tries. Halfback Jon Vula, hooker Eric Munninghoff, and wing Billy Racule each added tries of their own, and flyhalf Robert Reintjes tallied a penalty and 5 conversions.
KC Blues 45 KC RFC 0
Tries: Lillig 3, Munninghoff, Racule, Vula
Conv: Vula 1/1, Reintjes 5/5
Pen: Reintjes 1/1
1. Adam Windsor (Steve Jackman @ 48)
2. Eric Munninghoff
3. Brian Walter (Chad Vick @ 70)
4. Chris Lawler (Bubba George @ 40)
5. Ashley Pouche
6. Brian English (Panama Hoover @ 40)
7. Clint Olearnick
8. Joey Shirley (c)
9. Jon Vula (Vince Pastorino @ 45)
10. Robert Reintjes
11. Wes Lillig
12. Jay Allen
13. Matt Gunter (Caleb George @ 55)
14. Billy Racule
15. Steve Sharkey
Joey Shirley in the lineout vs the St. Louis Bombers
In the championship on Sunday, the Blues faced a St. Louis Bombers side that had dispatched the St. Louis Ramblers on Saturday, 80-0. Bolstered by a strong performance on Saturday though, the Blues came out hard against the Bombers. Poor ball handling lead to some missed opportunities for the Blues however, and despite their courage in defense, and ability to move the ball into the Bomber end with some success, the St. Louis side took an 18-10 lead into the half.
Early in the 2nd half, the Blues lost 2 players to yellow cards, and playing with only 13 men were somewhat overmatched by the Bombers. The Super League side was able to take advantage of their numbers, and run in 3 tries in a 12-minute span, pulling ahead 37-10. The Blues refused to back down, driving possession deep into the Bomber end before wing Pablo Carrera touched down in the corner for a try in the 65th minute, breathing life back into the 13 Blues. Moments later, both binned players re-entered for the Blues, and they continued to pressure the Bombers with increasing physicality. In the 78th minute, the Blues converted an attacking lineout and ensuing phases into a try as Joey Shirley scored under the posts. Carrera converted, bringing the score to 37-24, but it was too little too late for Kansas City as the final whistle sounded a couple of minutes later.
The Blues completed the weekend with a second place finish, and were rewarded handsomely with a $1,000 check courtesy of Mike Wrenn and the Magic of Marceline Projects. KC RFC defeated the Ramblers 46-3 to take 3rd place.
Marshall Lurtz on attack vs St. Louis Bombers
KC Blues 24 StL Bombers 37
Tries: Carrera, Pouche, Shirley
Conv: Carrera 3/3
Pen: Carrera 1/1
1. Steve Jackman
2. Panama Hoover (Frank Weaver @ 55)
3. Brian Walter (Chad Vick @ 60)
4. Bubba George
5. Ashley Pouche
6. Brian English (Eric Munninghoff @ 30)
7. Clint Olearnick
8. Joey Shirley (c)
9. Jon Vula
10. Robert Reintjes
11. Wes Lillig (Pablo Carrera @ 8)
12. Jay Allen
13. Matt Gunter (Caleb George @ 65)
14. Billy Racule (Marshall Lurtz @ 40)
15. Steve Sharkey
09.16.2007 - Kansas City Blues Celebrate 40th Anniversary of Innaugural Aspen Ruggerfest Championship
“When there’s frost in the mountains and the Aspens turn to gold, a young man’s fancy turns to RUGBY!” – A. Goldigger Ruggerski (excerpt from the 1969 Aspen Ruggerfest written invitation, written by then ERRFU President Terry Fleener)
1968 Aspen Ruggerfest Championship Team: front row l-r (lying down): Pat Rapp, Steve Carusso, Ed Frechin (second row l-r): Carl Jacobsen, Billy O’Sullivan, Jim Graybill, N/A, Bill Houlehan, N/A, N/A, N/A (back row): Jim Lyons, N/A, Butch Cole, N/A, Pat O’Neal (back), Dave McCurnin, Frank Mirikitani, Mike Gabhart, Steve Schumann, Dan Euston, N/A
The weekend of September 15th, 2007 marked the 40th Annual Aspen Ruggerfest, a weekend-long tournament that has stood the test of time since its 1968 inception. Throughout the years, countless players and teams have made the annual fall trek ‘up the mountain’ to Aspen, a city that has welcomed the rugby festival and its diverse blend of participants with open arms.
A staple on the calendar of the region’s best teams, and the game’s most ardent fans, Ruggerfest has long been the place to be for the whose-who amongst the American rugby crowd. At the same time though, for all of it’s luxury, legend, and lore, Ruggerfest exists as an annual pilgrimage for simple rugby men and women as well – a bright spot on the schedule for the many who look forward to the journey as a chance to experience the sense of camaraderie and joy the weekend can bring, and reminisce about the experiences of years past with old friends, teammates, and opponents.
Fittingly enough then, on the 40th anniversary of this wonderful event, a special group of men convened in Aspen to celebrate an accomplishment reached in that inaugural Ruggerfest in 1968, when things were less luxurious, and rugby legend hadn’t yet taken a foothold in Aspen. At this fall’s tournament, Frank Mirikitani brought together a group of old Kansas City Blues teammates now scattered around the country, forming the reunion of a group of simple players who made the trek ‘up the mountain’ 40 years ago, and came back down the first-ever Aspen Ruggerfest Champions.
An upstart Club in 1968, with mis-matched jerseys (not uncommon in those days) and less than 2 full seasons of organized rugby under their belts, the Kansas City Blues emerged from a field of 14 other Clubs and defeated the Denver Barbarians 8-3 in the October 13th championship match. The victory catapulted the Blues into an elite class of rugby teams, and became the driving force behind much of the success the Club has experienced in the proceeding 40 years. Many believe the strength the Blues organization has carried through the 80’s, 90’s, and 00’s owes it’s foundation to that 1968 squad, and their victory in Aspen.
Danny McFarland, and 1968 alum Frank Mirikitani enjoy the reception at the Chalet
Frank Mirikitani, who served as President of the Kansas City Blues for 20 years after his playing days ended, and is now a Hall of Fame member and the Honorary Chairman of the Club, was joined in Aspen this year by fellow teammates from that Championship squad, including Steve Caruso, Jessie ‘Butch’ Cole, Dan Euston, Ed Frechin, Mike ‘Gabby’ Gabhart, Jim Graybill, Bill Houlehan, Dave McCurnin, Billy O’Sullivan, Pat Rapp, Don Winkler, and Steve Schumann.
The 1968 squad was first treated to a dominant performance Friday by the Blues Brothers, the Blues Over-35 team, who advanced to the Sunday Championship of the Classic Division. On Saturday morning then, in the first match of the Men's Division, the Blues club side defeated perennial Ruggerfest finalists the Denver Barbarians to record a huge upset, and set the tone for the rest of the weekend for the entire Club, stoking the nostalgic coals for many of the old boys in attendance. The club side advanced to the semifinals on Saturday afternoon, where they were defeated by an invitational Aspen side, but nonetheless had given the 1968 team something to be proud of with their fearless play and refusal to back down to any opponent.
On Saturday night, the 1968 alums held a private reception for the members of their side in the banquet room on the rooftop of the Mountain Chalet. The rest of the Club was invited to join in the festivities, including a full BBQ courtesy of Mike Schlatter and John Franklin, and an open bar courtesy of Bob Willson and Simon Langhorn.
At the reception, Hall of Famer Mike Gabhart shared some memories of the 1968 event, and expressed his thanks to all who could make the trip and share in their celebration. He concluded his address with a prayer for all of the Blues who have passed away and were with us in spirit that evening. Hall of Famer Jerry Rutherford, who joined the Blues in 1970, then moved the audience by calling this event, and listening to Gabby address the Club, the proudest moment of his life as a Blue. Club Vice President and current player Pete Kowalski concluded, thanking the 1968 team for laying the groundwork for the success the Club has experienced in the ensuing 40 years, and congratulating the Blues Brothers and the Club side for their efforts on the weekend.
Special thanks to all of the current and former Blues players who made the trip to Aspen, and made the 40th anniversary of the 1968 championship such a memorable event for all of those invloved, proving truth to the statement that we are "Blues for life."
09.16.2007 - Blues Finish 4th at Aspen Ruggerfest, Blues Brothers Retain Over-35 Championship!
KC Blues Club Side in Aspen, l-r: (sitting) Pauling, Staab; (kneeling) Windsor, Hoover, Masterson, Cassidy, English, Pouche, Sharkey, C. George, Allen, Tulio; (standing) Fridkin, Trant, Lillig, Marvel, George, Shirley, McDougall, Walter, Wylie, Munninghoff, Kluempers, Kowalski, Russo
The Kansas City Blues club side opened up the 40th Annual Aspen Ruggerfest with an enormous victory over perennial Ruggerfest finalists, the Denver Barbarians, 13-8 to open pool play on Saturday morning. The Blues next opponent was Mountain League Select, who pulled out a 31-19 victory over the improving Blues. Despite a 1-1 record, the Blues advanced to the semifinals as the wild card against top seed Gentlemen of Aspen, suffering a 46-12 defeat at the hands of the defending Ruggerfest champs. In the 3rd place match on Sunday, the banged-up Club side took a 10-5 lead into the half against Kudu Select, but eventually lost 31-15 to finish 4th in the 12-team field.
For match reports and statistics, visit the details link on the Schedule & Results page...
Meanwhile, the Blues Brothers retained their Over-35 Ruggerfest championship in an exciting victory over the Virginia Cardinals. The Blues lead 6-3 with time winding down, however Virginia hit a drop-goal to tie it 6-6. The Blues quickly drove into the Virginia end, and Doug Brown slotted the game-winning penalty kick with no time on the clock. The repeat Championship for the Blues Brothers is their 5th division Championship in 7 years (won it in 2000, '03, '04, '06 & '07), and the Blues Brothers are sure to push for a 3-peat in 2008!
09.20.2007 - Blues Announce Official Jersey Sponsor For 2007-2008 Season
The Kansas City Blues and Westphal-Kelpe Consulting, Inc. have reached an agreement making McCoy’s Public House the official jersey sponsor for the Blues in 2007-2008, marking the second time McCoy’s has elected to officially partner with Kansas City’s premier rugby club. McCoy’s previously served as the official jersey sponsor for the 2007 Blues 7s touring team.
“We are thrilled to welcome back McCoy’s as our sponsor and look forward to working with Westphal-Kelpe to grow the sport, engage our fans, and promote Westport’s best restaurant and bar.” says Pete Kowalski, Vice President of the Blues. “Both McCoy’s and the Blues share a commitment to healthy, active living, and promoting the social and entertainment value that exists in Kansas City.”
2007-2008 League Jersey - Courtesy of Heartland Rugby Supply
Located in the beating heart of Westport, McCoy’s is the perfect setting for any friendly outing. They have an extensive and appetizing menu serving creative comfort food selections for lunch and dinner, 7 days a week. The brewmaster, Keith Thompson, hand-crafts over a dozen styles of award-winning ales & lagers each day. As well as featuring an extensive list of signature martinis, wine and cocktails, McCoy’s offer hand-crafted ales for only $2.75, 4-6pm for Happy Hour. The spacious outdoor deck overlooks the thriving center of Westport and has been voted as the premiere place for people watching in mid-town. McCoy’s Plot #1 Cigar Room invites you to relax in a leather chair while sampling some of the finest cigars from around the world. Their 5-foot projection TV and multiple plasmas make McCoy's one of the most comfortable places to watch the game. McCoy’s has it all, and lots of space to do it in. Just like the tradition and name say's, "McCoy’s Public House is a home for the people".
In conjunction with this announcement, the Blues will host a large event at McCoy’s on November 10, 2007 as the Irish Canadian Rugby Club of Toronto makes its fall tour to play the Blues. After the match, the Blues and McCoy’s will host the ICRC at the Westport location for a tour banquet, sure to be a great event.
Official sponsorship status gives McCoy’s sole logo representation on the 2007-2008 Blues jersey that will be worn during every USA Rugby Men’s Division 1 West RFU Northern League match. Heartland Rugby Supply, operated by Blues coach Tim Kluempers, will supply the new set of jerseys. Additionally, McCoy’s will receive a framed authentic match jersey, to be proudly displayed at their Westport location.
09.29.2007 - Blues Defeat KC RFC 29-15 to Open D1 League Season
The Kansas City Blues have opened their 2007/08 Division I season with a 29-15 victory over cross-town rivals Kansas City in a Western RFU Northern League match Saturday.
Trailing 10-5 at the half after City enjoyed the wind advantage and majority of possession through the first 40, the Blues rallied in the second half to take the game with three converted tries to City's lone score.
For the Blues, tries were scored by halfback Jon Vula, center Jay Allen, wing Wes Lillig, and flyhalf Rob Reintjes. Reintjes was 3/4 on conversions as well. The Blues secured a bonus point for scoring four tries, and enter a 4-way tie for 2nd place in the League Standings. At 1-0, the Blues are now one of two remaining unbeaten teams in the 7-team league (Glendale is the other).
In the reserve match, the Blues combined some returning players with some newer faces, and dominated City's 2nd's, running in 9 tries to 1, winning 55-5. Michael Skahan, Tony Vaka, and Casey Cummings each scored a brace of tries, while John Knutsen, Vince Pastorino, and Fotu Tauveli each added one apiece.
KC Blues 29 KCRFC 15
Tries: Jonetani Vulaono, Jay Allen, Wes Lillig, Rob Reintjes
Conv: Rob Reintjes 3/4
1. Matt McDougall (Clint Olearnick @ 40)
2. Panama Hoover
3. Brian Walter (Adam Windsor @65)
4. Ashley Pouche
5. Bubba George (Chris Lawler @ 51)
6. Brian English (Rocky Sao @ 40)
7. Eric Munninghoff
8. Joey Shirley (c)
9. Jonetani Vulaono
10. Robert Reintjes
11. Wes Lillig (Pablo Carrera @ 60)
12. Jay Allen
13. Matt Gunter
14. Billy Racule
15. Steve Sharkey
KC Blues 55 KC RFC 5
Tries: Michael Skahan 2, Tony Vaka 2, Casey Cummings 2, John Knutsen, Vince Pastorino, Fotu Tauveli
Conv: Pablo Carrera 4/4, John Knutsen 2/5
1. Steve Jackman (Jim Schneweis @ 50)
2. Jim Stickford
3. Chad Vick (Matt McDougall @ 46)
4. Tony Vaka
5. Marty X
6. Charles Henson
7. Evan Mason (Tim Kluempers @ 40)
8. Chris Lawler (Derek Mannell @ 40)
9. Pat Valdivia
10. Vince Pastorino
11. Casey Cummings
12. Fotu Tauveli
13. Michael Skahan (Bubba George @ 40)
14. John Knutsen
15. Pablo Carrera
10.06.2007 - Blues defeat GOATS, move to 2-0 in West Northern League
The Blues travelled with 29 players to Omaha on Saturday, via school bus, and came back to Kansas City with 2-0 record and max bonus points. The Blues trailed the GOATS 10-12 at the break, but bolstered by an extremely strong wind, and the try-scoring of Jon Vula (3), Clint Olearnick (3), Jay Allen (2), and Billy Racule (1), KC was able to put Omaha away with a 59-17 victory that got away from the GOATS late. Jon Vula was 7/8 on conversions, and the Blues tight-5 held their own against a very big GOATS pack that included a West select tight-head, and All-American loose-head.
In the reserve match, the GOATS were game in putting out a combination of tired first-side players, and inexperienced youngsters. The Blues took full advantage however, as their 2nd XV ran away with a 70-7 victory in the shortened match. Highlights saw halfback Doug Gichuru in his first game with the Blues, and the platoon of Tim Kluempers and Siva Tali at fullback. It was also the first match since 2005 in which Siva, Matt, and Brett Tali all played together, a welcome reunion for the Blues. Wes Lillig paced the reserve side with 4 tries.
KC Blues 59 Omaha GOATS 17
Tries: Jon Vula 3, Clint Olearnick 3, Jay Allen 2, Billy Racule
Conv: Rob Reintjes 0/1, Jon Vula 7/8
Pens: Rob Reintjes 0/1
1. Matt McDougall (Brian Walter @ 40)
2. Panama Hoover
3. Eric Munninghoff
4. Bubba George (Chris Lawler @ 63)
5. Ashley Pouche
6. Brian English (Clint. Olearnick @ 37)
7. Rocky Sao
8. Joey Shirley (c)
9. Jonetani Vulaono
10. Rob Reintjes (Vince Pastorino @ 27)
11. Wes Lillig (Matt Tali @ 55)
12. Jay Allen
13. Caleb George
14. Billy Racule
15. Steve Sharkey
KC Blues 70 Omaha GOATS 7
Tries: Wes Lillig 4, Brett Tali, Matt Tali, Billy Racule, Caleb George, Steve Sharkey, Bubba George, Tim Kluempers, Clint Olearnick
1. Adam Windsor
2. Jim Stickford (c)
3. Chad Vick
4. Chris Lawler
5. Evan Mason
6. Brian English
7. Bubba George
8. Matt Tali
9. Doug Gichuru
10. Steve Sharkey
11. Wes Lillig (Jay Allen @ 20)
12. Brett Tali
13. Billy Racule (Caleb George @ 20)
14. Jim Schneweis
15. Siva Tali (Tim Kluempers @ 20)
10.07.2007 - 2nd Place Blues (2-0) Face League-Leaders Boulder RFC (2-1) on Saturday
The Kansas City Blues, 2-0 and in second place on 10 points in the West Northern League, will travel back to Colorado to face Boulder RFC, 2-1 and atop the League standings with 11 points, this Saturday. The match has major play-off implications for the Blues, as they will face the meat of their League schedule in the remaining 3 matches (Denver 10/20; Aspen 3/29; @ Glendale 4/5). Stay tuned for the match result and recap!
10.13.2007 - Blues Drop Close Match At Boulder, Look Ahead To Hosting Denver 10/20
The Blues were their own worst enemy on Saturday, losing to league-leaders Boulder RFC 29-32 in Colorado. Trailing 19-22 at the end of the first half, missed tackles and poor ball-handling, in addition to losing 2 players to the sin bin at the same time, spelled defeat for the Blues in a match they feel they should have won. Regardless, Boulder RFC was the better team on the day, earning a bonus point for their 6-try performance and hanging on to the top spot in the Northern League. The Blues earned maximum bonus points in the loss (for tries and loss margin), and thus maintain their hol don 2nd place.
The Blues (2-1) host the Denver Highlanders (1-1-1), this coming Saturday at 1:00pm at the Blue River Soccer Complex in south KCMO. The Highlanders are the defending 2006, and 2007 Northern League champions. It is the final League match of the fall season for the Blues, who will have two remaining League games in the early spring.
10.20.2007 - Blues Drop Nail-biter to Denver 21-26
The Kansas City Blues rebounded from a 7-10 deficit after the first half to score 14 unanswered points into the wind in the 2nd, however Denver's excellent kicking game saw them through at the end as the Blues fell to 2-2 with the 21-26 defeat at Blue River Soccer Complex.
In an intensely physical match that saw Kansas City run thorugh their entire bench, the wind and an excellent effort from the Denver Highlanders proved to be too much for the hometown Blues.
After giving up a penalty kick in the first half, the Blues were only able to trade a try apiece with the Highlanders, despite holding the advantage of a strong first half wind, and entered the break down 7-10. The Blues lone score in the first half came on the heels of a fundamentally perfect sequence of passing through 8 sets of hands on the break, before winger Billy Racule scored in the corner. Rob Reintjes converted the try.
Early in the 2nd half, the Blues came out strong, and despite being kept in their own end by the big foot of Denver's #10, they managed two impressive tries as Racule finished a break by center Mike Skahan in the 48th minute (Reintjes converted), and flanker Matt Tali broke downfield on a 50 meter scamper in the 52nd minute (Reintjes converted). Now leading 21-10 with 28 minutes remaining, there was plenty of time left for Denver to continue pushing the action into the Blues end, which they did.
Denver struck back quickly, as their winger scored a nice chip and chase, and the try was converted in the 56th minute, bringing Denver within 4 points (17-21). The ensuing 20 minutes then became a bit fo a scramble for the Blues, as they defended with great pride and intensity, but enjoyed only a small fraction of possession and territory. In the 78th minute, the Blues were penalized in their own end, within range of Denver's #10 who slotted the PK to bring his side within 1 point. On the restart, Denver again drove possession into the Blues end, where they capitalized on another infraction to nail a 3-pointer, taking the 2 point lead with only a couple of minutes to play. Moments later, as injury time was winding down, Denver slotted yet another PK to extend the lead to 5 points, and the final whistle blew seconds after the restart with the Blues on the losing side, 21-26.
In the reserve match, the Blues ran out to a 13-0 lead after the first half behind tries from high schooler John Knutsen, who also added a penalty, and Doug Gichuru. However, Denver put in a solid 2nd half, wearing down the Blues with successive scores, and despite a 60m try from winger Wes Lillig the Blues had few answers late, as Denver emerged with the 28-18 win.
KC Blues 21 Denver Highlanders 26
Tries: Billy Racule 2, Matt Tali
Conv: Rob Reintjes 3/3
1. Eric Munninghoff
2. Panama Hoover
3. Brian Walter (Matt McDougall @ 27)
4. Chris George (Chris Lawler @ 55, Jim Stickford @ 59)
5. Ashley Pouche
6. Brian English (Matt Tali @ 40)
7. Rocky Sao
8. Joey Shirley (c)
9. Vince Pastorino
10. Rob Reintjes
11. Billy Racule
12. Jay Allen (Mike Skahan @ 22, Wes Lillig @ 68)
13. Matt Gunter (Caleb George @ 40)
14. Steve Sharkey
15. Jonetani Vulaono
KC Blues 18 Denver Highlanders 28
Tries: John Knutsen, Doug Gichuru, Wes Lillig
Conv: John Knutsen 0/3
Pen: John Knutsen 1/1
1. Chad Vick
2. Jim Stickford
3. Tim Kluempers (Mike Vick @ 40)
4. Derek Mannell (Matt Tali @ 40)
5. Corbin Baier
6. Evan Mason
7. Charles Henson
8. Tony Vaka
9. Doug Gichuru
10. Siva Tali
11. Jim Schneweis (Wes Lillig @ 40)
12. Adam Windsor
13. Brett Tali
14. John Knutsen
15. Casey Cummings
10.21.2007 - Blues Host Springfield This Saturday for 2007 Homecoming
2006 Court nominee Fouche du Toit presents last year's Queen, Brian English!
The Kansas City Blues, who finished the fall West Northern League at 2-2 and in second place, host regional D2 front-runner Springfield RFC in the 2007 Homecoming Match at Minor Park in south KCMO.
Kick-off is at 2:00pm, and the match will be followed by the presentation of the Blues Homecoming Court, and the election of the 2007 "Queen"... The day's events will be followed by a beer bus Pub Crawl on Saturday night, on which all Blues members and supporters are invited! For details on the Pub Crawl, click here
10.27.2007 - Blues Defeat Springfield RFC 43-17
Captain Joey Shirley played his final game for the Blues Saturday, leading his side to victory. He returns to his hometown of Canberra in Australia this week. As a Blue, Shirley amassed 10 tries in 28 matches in 2007, including a 5-6 record as Team Captain
The Blues hosted Springfield RFC in the 2007 Homecoming match on Saturday, and emerged with a 43-17 victory despite losing two players to red cards 3 minutes into the second half.
The home side led 26-0 at the half, and managed to hold off the hard charging Springfield RFC in the 2nd, after the loss of Jon Vula and Billy Racule.
Tries were scored by Steve Sharkey, Billy Racule, Rob Reintjes, Rocky Sao, Matt Tali, and high schoolers Casey Cummings, and John Knutsen. Reintjes converted 4 of 6 attempts.
After the game, the 2007 Homecoming festivities took place, with center Matt Gunter being crowned as Queen. The evening’s Pub Crawl also went off without a hitch, as we more than doubled last year’s attendance numbers…
Special thanks to Jerry Rutherford for mowing the Minor Park pitch for us prior to the game, we dressed-up the “pig” as much as we could! Also, thanks to Chris Lawler for organizing the keg donation by Mike’s Tavern, thanks to Scott Tripp for getting the food prep taken care of with the help of Mike Schlatter and John Franklin, and thanks to Eric Munninghoff for organizing the Pub Crawl.
KC Blues 43 Springfield RFC 19
Tries: Steve Sharkey, Billy Racule, Rob Reintjes, Rocky Sao, Matt Tali, Casey Cummings, John Knutsen
Conv: Rob Reintjes 4/6, John Kuntsen 0/1
1. Matt McDougall
2. Eric Munninghoff
3. Chad Vick (Panama Hoover @ 40)
4. Ashley Pouche
5. Joey Shirley (c)
6. Brian English (Evan Mason @ 60)
7. Matt Tali
8. Rocky Sao
9. Casey Cummings
10. Robert Reintjes
11. Billy Racule
12. Caleb George (John Knutsen @ 66)
13. Matt Gunter (Wes Lillig @ 64)
14. Steve Sharkey (Adam Windsor @ 65)
15. Jonetani Vulaono
Clint Olearnick Helps Lead Army to 2nd at Combined Services Championships
Clint Olearnick, standing 8th from left, with the All Army Team at the 2007 Combined Services Championships
Clint Olearnick, a 2002 graduate of West Point and a Captain in the US Army, is currently stationed at Ft. Riley and has been playing for the Blues since August 2007.
This past weekend, Clint led the All-Army side to a runner-up finish at the Combined Services Championships at Camp Lejune, NC. As a result of his play, Clint has been selected to the Combined Services All Star team that will compete agianst the 7 territorial Union sides at the National All Star Championships in December, in Florida.
Clint is the first Blues player to be selected to a senior NASC side since Tim Russo played for the West in 2005.
In just 4 matches with the First XV this fall, Clint has scored 3 tries and established himself as an excellent player the Club will rely on during his stay at Ft. Riley.
Several Blues To Play For Team America
Vince Pastorino, a reserve on the 2007 TA squad, gets the ball out against South Africa in Bermuda in 2006
The U.S.A. Eagles Rugby Players Association, better known as "Team America", was formed in 1986 by a group of former U.S. National Team players and has established participation in international competitions over the past 10 years, including the World Rugby Classic, held each November in Bermuda.
Team America has played in the Bermuda Classic since 1988, and has proven that it can play against any classic rugby team (players of age 32 and up), having beaten England, Scotland, Wales, France, New Zealand and South Africa. Team America musters a squad of 25 men every year for Bermuda, and the Kansas City Blues are always well-represented in the line-up.
Former Blues greats such as Frank Kennedy, Jim King, Scott Kram, and Travis Williams, as well as many others, have all pulled-on the TA jersey in Bermuda over the years. This year the TA squad has been bolstered by 7 former and current Blues, as Tim Kluempers, Brad Hughes, Eric Masterson, Vince Pastorino, Steve Robke, Michael Skahan, and Doug Brown all played for Team America in a victory against Canada in New Jersey this past summer.
In Bermuda this month, Kluempers, Hughes, Masterson, Skahan, and Brown will all again represent the Blues, as Pastorino and Robke were named reserves and will not be making the trip.
The objective of Team America is to create a group of former U.S. Eagles who have retired from the game of Rugby and wanted to give something back for all the memories, while representing the Untied States. The Current and former Kansas City Blues who have played for TA have all experienced the benefits of being part of such an assembly, while in turn elevating the level of play in competitions such as the Classic in Bermuda.
According to former Blues and TA player and coach Frank Kennedy, “we are no longer the doormats of the tourney, with fans and opponents alike expecting a competitive match every time we are on the pitch. Many such as me expect a victory every time now.”
Throughout the years, Team America has also given back to the game. They have sponsored the USA under-19 team to South Africa in 2002; the USA Rugby 7’s teams to Hong Kong; USA development teams to Hawaii; USA 7’s camps; created the Governors Bowl award given from Team America to past USA Rugby Administrator as a “Thank You” for their efforts from the players; reinstated the Craig Sweeney Award; created a USA Eagles annual reunion banquet, to honor past Eagle teams; contributed to USA Rugby Foundation; hosted the New Zealand Classic team in San Francisco at Golden Gate Park, and the Canadian Classic team in Aspen, CO.
The Kansas City Blues have been major contributors to Team America’s success both on and off the field – a trend that is sure to continue as both organizations continue down the path of the elite. Congratulations to all 7 of our Blues who have the honor of wearing the Team America jersey in 2007!
11.10.2007 - Blues Drop Close Match to ICRC
The Kansas City Blues hosted their first touring side in almost a decade this past weekend, when the Toronto Irish Canadian Rugby Club came to Kansas City on November 10th.
The Blues played the ICRC at Blue River Soccer Complex , coming up on the short end of the 24-18 scoreline. In a very tight contest that was well-played by both sides, the Blues took a 13-0 lead into the half behind a try from flanker Matt Tali, and a conversion and two penalties by flyhalf Robert Reintjes. The ICRC was able to turn things up in the 2nd half however, with Man of the Match Scott Humphries running rampant through the Blues defense. The tourists scored 21 unanswered points before reserve lock Tony Vaka touched down for the Blues to bring the home side back to within 4 points. However, a late penalty kick by the ICRC lengthened the lead to 7 points, and they were able to hang on for the well-deserved victory.
Blues Old Boys Jerry Rutherford and Steve Terrill presented the ICRC players with 24 oz. glass KC Blues beer steins, and Club President Scott Tripp gave ICRC coach Mark Winokur a commemorative plaque in appreciation for their travel.
After the match, the University of Missouri women's rugby club defeated Kansas University. the KU women joined the Blues and the ICRC that evening at McCoy's Public House in Westport for the Tour Banquet. Jerseys were exchanged between the two Clubs, as Humphries and Blues center Clint Olearnick were recognized as Man of Match.
Accomodations for the ICRC were provided by The Quarterage Hotel in Westport. The Quarterage is a proud supporter of the Kansas City Blues Rugby Club, and serves as the Blues hotel sponsor during all home matches.
Blues Player Competing Again For Peru's National Team
Pablo Carrera has helped lead Peru to runner-up performance at the 2007 South American Tier 2 Championships.
After an assembly that began in early October at the Argentina High Performance Institute, where they trained for 3 weeks and played two warm-up matches against Argentinian First Division Clubs, the Peruvians headed home for the tournament on November 4th.
After losing to eventual Champions Brazil RFU in the opening round (15-24), Los Tumis rebounded with two impressive defeats of Colombia (13-9), and Venezuela (24-8) to play their way back for 2nd, and conclude the event on November 10th.
Pablo kicking for Peru in the World Cup France 2007 Qualifying Tournament in 2005
In the last seven days Peru have beaten two nations ranked above them in Colombia and Venezuela, results which see the tournament hosts climb to 60th with a rating points increase of 1.83 to 43.34.
Brazil retained their South American B title with three victories – the most recent a 43-3 defeat of Colombia on Saturday – but as they were ranked significantly higher than their opponents they have not improved their rating points.
In fact Brazil actually fall two places to 33rd as a result of the victories enjoyed by Belgium and Kazakhstan over the weekend, the former regaining the 31st position they lost to the South Americans in the previous rankings.
A member of the Confederacion Sudamericana and the IRB since 1998, the Peruvian National Team has participated in the South American Championships every year. In 2001, Peru participated in the World Cup Australia 2003 Qualifying Rounds against Brazil, Venezuela, and Colombia. Pablo, then just 21, played in each of those three matches for Peru, the last one against Colombia being first official IRB game to be played and won in Peruvian grounds. Pablo also competed for Peru in the World Cup France 2007 Qualifying Rounds, in 2005.
The Blues wish Pablo and Los Tumis congratulations for the great finish!
Blues 2007 Fall Season Recap
The Kansas City Blues completed a fairly successful fall season in 2007, but they might be left to wonder ‘what-if?’ over the winter after a couple narrow League losses, a feeling sure to inspire the boys as they enter a tough 2008 schedule with two must-win Northern League matches ahead of them.
As a team, the fall season was highlighted by the excellent training numbers each week (often 30+ players), and the fact that 38 different Blues saw game time action this fall, including 34 in First XV (or A-Side) matches. Even more promising is the fact that Blues players had an average age of 24, the youngest the squad has been in years.
No major injuries were incurred in the Club’s 13 match run, and a number of younger players took some major strides this past fall.
Head Coach Joe Fridkin, assistants Tim Kluempers and Vince Pastorino, and Management staff Pete Kowalski and Bubby King all put in a lot of their own time this fall as well in contributing to the Blues successes.
After running away with a one-sided victory against the Sundogs RFC in a pre-season scrimmage, the Blues finished with an overall 5-7 record in First XV matches, and the Blues Reserve side went 2-1. Of note, the Blues were 1-1 against Super League clubs, and finished the fall season in 3rd place in the Northern League at 2-2 (13 points), still hanging on to a chance at qualifying for Westerns in late April if they can win-out in the two remaining League matches to be played earlier this spring (3/29/08 against Aspen; 4/5/08 at Glendale).
So there is still a lot to play for in the 2007-2008 D1 season for the Blues.
Perhaps the most celebrated moment of the fall season was the Blues 13-8 defeat of the Denver Barbarians to open up the 40th Annual Aspen Ruggerfest, exacting a bit of revenge on the Barbo’s who handed the Blues a 73-5 defeat towards the end of the 2006 Super League campaign. The Blues 29-15 victory over KC RFC in their first ever West D1 Northern League match was also a great milestone for the Club.
Individually, a number of players stood-out this fall in terms of statistics:
Lock Ashley Pouche, flanker Brian English, hooker Panama Hoover, winger Wes Lillig, and fullback Steve Sharkey were the only Blues to appear in every First XV match this fall (12 games).
Flyhalf Robert Reintjes led the Blues in points scoring, tallying 54 points in just 8 First XV matches (3 tries, 18 conversions on 75% kicking, 3 penalties on 60% kicking).
Rookie winger Billy Racule led the Blues in tries, running in 6 in just 7 First XV matches.
On the Reserve Side, 20 year-old winger Wes Lillig led all scorers with 25 points in 2 Reserve matches (5 tries), and 18 year-old John Knutsen rang-up 17 points in 3 Reserve matches (2 tries, 2 conversions on 25% kicking, 1 penalty on 100% kicking).
Clint Olearnick Leads Combined Services at NASC's
Clint Olearnick, a stand-out at flanker and center for the Blues this past fall, represented KC and the Army well at the National All-Star Championships in Sanford, Florida’s Sylvan Lake Park, playing in the event's Tier B.
The Combined Services Team, made up of all-star players from the U.S. military branches, were looking for their first Day 1 victory in three years at the NASC's. Unfortunately, the No. 8 ranked Combined Services squad faced the fifth-ranked Northeast Team, and found itself waiting another year for the chance to advance out of Tier B. The Northeast team dominated the scoreboard, finishing 43-12 and advancing to the Tier B Championship, however Olearnick ran in an early try and showed his versatility by playing the entire game at lock.
On Sunday in the Tier B Consolation, the Combined Services and the South looked fairly well-matched. The Combined Services jumped out strong, scoring 12-straight points to get an early 12-0 lead within the first 20 minutes. A somewhat stunned South Team recovered, but by halftime were still losing, 17-10.
In the second half, possession went back and forth fairly evenly. But, with the help of the Combined Services flyhalf, Andrew Locke, who missed Friday’s match due to previous military obligations, the armed services squad held on in the end, sliding by with a 30-24 win.
Olearnick contributed another try to the Combined Services effort in thw win, his second of the weekend.
The 2007 National All-Stars Championships may be over, but in terms of a selection vehicle, they have opened a lot of doors for players and coaches looking to build the 2008 Elite Player Squads. USA Rugby’s Nigel Melville, and RWC coaches Marty Wiggins and Bill LeClerc close out the weekend with several new player leads, making this competition about so much more than territorial bragging rights. The coaches will head home, and gather further information on the players who caught their eyes over the next several weeks, before naming the 2008 Elite Player Squad early in the New Year. Olearnick is hopeful that he will get a closer look as a flanker or center based on his performance playing out of position at lock.
For more information on the USA Rugby National Guard Men’s All-Star Championships or for complete team rosters, please visit www.usarugby.org
12.20.2007 - Blues Help Raise Bar - and $6450 - for Don Bosco
Congratulations to the entire Blues organization for your work on the Don Bosco Community Center Holiday Friends program, and special thanks to Tim Kluempers for again taking the lead on this massive project, and making sure all of the families were well taken care of during the 2007 Christmas season.
This Christmas, the Blues teamed up with a number of generous families and organizations, raising the bar considerably in terms of contributions and participation in the Don Bosco event. 22 current and former Blues players, and a number of additional family members and friends participated in the shopping, wrapping, and delivery of the presents to all of the adopted families.
Generous contributions were received from a staggering 52 individaul donors, a feat in itself.
As a group, the Blues combined with Julie Hazen’s class at Highlands Elementary, the Highlands Elementary staff, Kelly Sweeney and Jazzercise of Kansas City, Bob Willson’s family, Steve Robke, iModules, and St. Thomas Aquinas RFC to adopt a total of 10 families, consisting of 65 total people!
Able to raise (and spend) over $6,450 at Kohl’s on Shawnee Mission Parkway, the Blues organization, with the help of many supporting groups, did another EXCELLENT job for the Don Bosco charity.
The staff at Kohl’s gave us a combined 30% discount on everything… we would not have been able to get nearly the amount of gifts as we did without the support of Kohl’s.
Again, to all of those who contributed to this charity event, a big THANK-YOU for representing the KC BLUES and your own families and organizations in such a positive light, and for doing your part to make a Merry Christmas possible for the 65 people who otherwise would not have had any Christmas at all.
All associated with the Kansas City Blues should be proud to be part of an organization that does so much to support those less fortunate in our community, and we look forward to again supporting Don Bosco in 2008!
A very special thanks to the following who donated time and services from shopping, wrapping, and delivery, in addition to their monetary contributions this year:
Tim, Janie, Catherine, and Jeanie Kluempers, John Knutsen, Adam Martin, Christine Franz, Scott Kram, Pete Winkelbauer, Julie Skahan, Michael Skahan and his mother, Steve Robke, Adam Windsor, Brian Walter, Bubba George, Siva Tali, Billy Racule, Glenn McIntosh, Rocky Sao, Matt Tali, Jim Schneweis, Scott Tripp, Jay, Jen, and Brock Allen, Keith and Christina Engle, Ty Gray and his three daughters, Steve Jackman, Bob Willson and his three kids, Charlie Nelson and his wife, Pete Kowalski, and Brian English.