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A Match Like No Other

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A Match Like No Other
 
The whistle blows, the ball is in play, and immediately the trash talk begins! “You’re too old for this sport old man, try not to brake a hip!” exclaimed CT Jammer “Wee Willy” Kornegay. 
 
The CT Grey (an over age 40 men’s rugby league) assisted by an assortment of Wild Roses (University of Hartford women’s rugby team) squared off against the CT Jammers wheelchair rugby team for their annual Quad Rugby grudge match. From the Grey’s bench shouts of laughter emanated throughout the air, along with the distinctive aroma of BenGay.
 
 Bud Harvey, the coach of the Connecticut Jammers, who is bilingual in both English and profanity screamed out commands to his players “Run up the #!%@ score, show no mercy!” 
 
The venerable Grey got off to a shaky start against the much younger Jammers. Both teams were on the court pushing their rugby chairs as hard as they could. One could hear the metallic sound of crashing wheelchairs and pacemakers alike echoing throughout the gym. The Grey fell behind quickly; due to some questionable passing and the fact that many of the Grey had hangovers from the previous evenings pub crawl. Not until the Grey unleashed their secret weapons, 4 year old Daniel & those sirens of rugby the Wild Roses, did they rally a comeback. 
 
The match was refereed by Todd Munn, Coordinator of Sports Programs for Gaylord Hospital. Todd was challenged in his task by the appearance of two rugby balls used by the Grey to increase their scoring capacity late in the game. But despite a valiant effort by the Grey, the Jammers maintained a commanding lead. 
 
As the final seconds of the match counted down, the score read Jammers 23 vs. Grey 13. Cheers filled the venue. But wait, why was the applause heard coming equally as loud from BOTH benches? It’s because this wasn’t just any ordinary Quad Rugby match, this one’s for Jonesy!
 
Michael “Jonesy” Jones, an Albany New York Knicks RFC player, was injured last spring at a rugby tournament in Fort Lauderdale Florida where he suffered a spinal cord injury resulting in quadriplegia. In an attempt to raise money for the Michael Jones Supplemental Needs Trust, each player of the grudge match donated a dollar for every point their team scored during the game. 
 
Together we were able to raise $433.00 this year, thanks to the generous support of the Greys, Jammers and friends.  All proceeds will help the Jones family so really both teams of the grudge match were winners. 
 
Having been involved with disabled sports for many years, I haven’t come across another sport that shares the same sense of community, comradery and collaborative spirit as does the sport of rugby. The generosity of the rugby community as a whole never ceases to amaze me. Over the years, members of the Grey have graciously supported the Jammers time and again. 
 
The Grey consists of generous good natured individuals who love the sport and foster a sense of “never leaving a man down on the field”. Collectively we all play rugby therefore Jonesy is one of our own on and off the field.  Players from many different rugby teams ranging in age, gender, and ability came together to help a fellow player in need. 
 
Many of the individuals participating in the grudge match have never even met Jonesy, but they participated in the match to raise money for him because they all share a single bond which is the sport of rugby. For these reasons I am proud to say “I am a rugby player”.
 
 
 
If you wish to contribute to the Michael Jones Supplemental Needs Trust Fund you may do so at the following URL: www.michaeljonestrust.org
 
January 6, 2011 — 11:02am