Aug 6, 2013 - A cohort of 21 intrepid Senators over-45s made the relatively short cross-border trip down to Saranac Lake, NY, last week. The excited murmurings in the Dancing Bears bar, Lake Placid, on Thursday evening were about the impending clash with the US Marine Core "Woodland" team the next morning...
It turned out to be good rugby-playing weather - light cloud, not too hot, dry ball. The game started on time despite several Senators, who did not heed the warnings about construction traffic en route, arriving 10 minutes before kick-off! The small Senators squad of 17, depleted by the unavailability of several over-55s players who were playing for an independent side, faced a USMC squad numbering in excess of 40! The Marines used their numerical superiority well, making fresh substitutions at will in groups of 4 or more! The two sides stood toe-to-toe for the first 20 minutes in a brutal encounter, exchanging penalty kicks to make it 6-3 to the Marines. However, the Senators started to flag, especially in the backs where there were no replacements to give the starting line-up even a brief rest. The flood-gates eventually opened, and the final score was 35-3.
The Senators now had a mountain to climb if they hoped to qualify for the Finals on Sunday. They must put a significant number of points on their next opponents later that afternoon, Gitchee Gummee. The lads were up for it, the desire was there, but could they do it...?
Well, yes and no. The Senators enjoyed a free-flowing game against keen opponents, scoring 4 well-crafted tries, including one much-recounted half-the-length-of-the-pitch solo effort by Scott McKenzie! ;)
The final score was 22-5 to the Senators, a win, but nowhere near enough to qualify for the consolation final on Sunday, as the USMC had a second side entered in the same division! Maybe just as well considering the number of injuries the guys picked up - Sunday could have been a bridge too far...!
From a player's perspective, the key to a successful (in terms of winning) Can-Am tournament is numbers, bodies, squad size. It is hoped that the Senators can encourage more regular players to make the trip next year (August 1st-3rd, 2014) - even just for the Friday games - it's a fun trip, and there's more going on than just rugby...!