Jun 6, 2016 - The Senators convoy crossed the US border last Friday for their annual rugby pilgrimage to the Old Men of the Mountain tournament in Franconia, New Hampshire. An early disappointment was the closure of the swimming pool at the Gale River Motel, but that was not going to dampen the spirits of the Canadian visitors.
After a fairly low-key Friday evening involving pizza and a cheeky beer-or-twelve, and an early Saturday-morning breakfast at Polly’s Pancake Parlor, the Senators were scheduled to play the Connecticut Greys at 11 a.m. and Seacoast at 1 p.m.
Senators v Connecticut Greys:
Early pressure by the Greys led to them squandering a certain try-scoring opportunity in the left-hand corner after the final pass went forward. Subsequently they won the scrum against the head, picked up and crossed the line to score from close range (0-7). More Greys pressure led to a second try within minutes (0-14). At this point Bailes and Christie clashed heads and both had to leave the field temporarily for repairs. Bailes immediately posted a picture of his bruised and bloodied eye on Facebook for all to see!
The Senators were struggling to gain and retain possession. The Greys scored again down the right-hand side with some slick passing and offloading (0-21). At this point it looked like the Senators were facing a thrashing. However, finally some sustained Senators pressure ended with Gaffney crossing the line from close range, easily beating a 12-year-old girl to touch down. Clifford converted (7-21). Soon after this, New Brunswick’s “Honorary Senator” Mouland broke through the Greys defences and linked with Bailes on the left wing, who scampered in like a scared rabbit to score in the corner just before half time. Clifford converted (or at least, that’s what he maintains) (14-21 HT).
The Senators started the second half strongly, after a stingingly critical half time telling off by President Elder. Some effective passing and offloading put Gaudreau clear, running at full tilt to score his first ever try! Clifford missed the conversion (19-21). Stalemate ensued for the next ten minutes, finally broken by a Storeshaw try after some neat handling and direct running. Clifford missed the conversion (24-21). Five minutes later the Senators killed off the opposition with another break by Mouland down the right-hand-side, neatly drawing and passing to guest player “Sam” from Seacoast to score. Clifford missed the conversion. Final score: Ottawa Senators 29 – Connecticut Greys 21.
Senators v Seacoast:
Unlike in the first game, the Senators started strongly. An early break by Clifford just failed to find Mouland for a certain opening try as a flailing Seacoast defender knocked down the final pass. Against the run of play, Seacoast broke away down the left wing to score (0-5), followed by a second sucker punch through centre field (0-10), leaving the Canadians rather shell-shocked. Seacoast had woken up and applied sustained pressure, hammering the Senators line again and again, eventually scoring under the posts with a centre crash move (0-15). Seacoast looked well on top at this stage.
The Senators started another comeback with a well-crafted try by “Johnny Man-Bun”, a late recruit from South Shore. Clifford converted (7-15). Almost immediately, Clifford scythed through the Seacoast defences and linked once again with Johnny Man-Bun to score under the posts just before half time. Gaffney converted (14-15 HT).
The teams were well matched during the opening period of the second half, with both sides showing enthusiasm in attack and defence, and with particularly good ball distribution by Senators scrumhalf Tucker. In the last minute of the game, with the final result in the balance, Seacoast kicked through to a deep-covering Gaffney. Under no pressure whatsoever, Gaffney ran the ball forward menacingly, the onlookers sensing that this may be his moment of glory. With a deft flick of the wrists, Gaffney subsequently offloaded to a Seacoast player running through at speed, who scored under the posts to win the game. In an unprecedented move in Senators history, Gaffney was immediately and unanimously awarded the “Shirt of Shame” before the final whistle had even blown. Final score: Ottawa Senators 14 – Seacoast 22.
A great day of rugby was followed by a typical Franconia Saturday night of revelry, during which “Franconia virgin” and self-appointed Judge Patterson’s authority was challenged during Court, and the second Franconia virgin Gaffney turned into Wee Jock Poop McPlop from Aberdeen! The Dutch Treat may never see his like again…