Sunday, May 19, 2024

TnT attracts alumni, 16 teams

Boyd Dyer drops a Binghamton defender at the pitch behind Memorial Hall on April 20.

 

By Collin Bolebruch

Plattsburgh State men’s and women’s rugby, their alumni squads and 12 visiting teams thumped, thwacked and thrashed in the 26th annual TnT Tournament at the fields behind Memorial Hall on Saturday, April 20.

The tournament memorializes deceased Cardinal ruggers Anthony Santandrea and Trevor Green, its namesakes, and Billy Erwin. Plattsburgh State rugby hosts TnT to raise funds for the Tony Santandrea Memorial Scholarship, given to a Plattsburgh State environmental studies student.

TnT raised approximately $1,200 through team entry fees, raffle tickets and merchandise and food sales. Generations of Cardinal rugby alumni filled the crowd.

“There were people coming out of the woodworks, all these alumni that myself and my teammates have never met,” men’s President Kevin Graber said. “You’ve got 40 to 50 years of rugby players coming together. It was beautiful.”

The future of the program was in question when TnT took a hiatus during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It destroyed rugby, especially in the North Country,” Graber said. 

Graber’s team was 1-5 in 15s play when he joined, and canceled two consecutive TnTs.

Rugby could not have returned in a bigger way — the tournament was the largest since 2016, as 16 different teams made the trip to Plattsburgh.

On the men’s side of the tournament, Plattsburgh State came out on top, and on the women’s side, McGill College from Montreal won out.

This year’s TnT served as a final hoorah for men’s Head Coach Sean Morgan. Morgan, who has been with the club since 1978, retired following the men’s championship win.

 


By Collin Bolebruch

Casey Halloran emcees during TnT from the back of a pickup truck April 20.

 

MEN

The men’s bracket included Plattsburgh State, Plattsburgh alumni, Paul Smith’s, Potsdam, Clarkson, Oswego, Hamilton and Binghamton.

The Cardinals’ current squad played in the second opening game, defeating its alumni team at 10:30 a.m. The game was a rematch of last year’s championship, when the alumni won. This time, the current Cards advanced to play the winner of game one at 12:30 p.m.

Plattsburgh beat Paul Smith’s, going undefeated in seeding play. The Cardinals’ 2-0 start earned Plattsburgh an automatic berth to the championship game against Binghamton.

The Cardinals defeated Binghamton to take home the TnT title at 3:30 p.m.

Both current and former Plattsburgh ruggers met at centerfield, surrounding Morgan in his final moments as head coach.

“It feels like he’s been here forever. He’s a big part of the reason I’m here,” said Jake Mainville, women’s head coach and former player under Morgan. “Plattsburgh rugby won’t be the same without him.”

After breaking the huddle, the teams shared embraces and combined for a photo opportunity.

“For a small school, there was a lot going on,” Graber said. “It was awesome just sitting back and watching it.”

Former president and current rugger Noah Lederman will take up the reins as head coach in the fall.

 


By Michael Purtell

Three Paul Smith’s ruggers drag down Natasha Sheffer at the TnT tournament on April 20.

 

WOMEN

The women’s bracket featured Plattsburgh State, the Saranac Lake Mountaineers alumni squad, Paul Smith’s, Saint Michael’s, Oswego, McGill, Middlebury and Hamilton.

Plattsburgh kicked off TnT, playing the Mountaineers in the tournament’s initial game at 10 a.m. The game, again, was a rematch of last year’s championship, bearing the same result, as the alumni won.

“It was hard not to laugh (during the game),” women’s President Evie Hatch said.

The alumni and current team watched the rest of the tournament together.

“It is one big family. We all want what’s best for each other,” Hatch said. “You’ll never see us not cheering for each other.”

The Cardinals were then pitted against Paul Smith’s at noon, earning its first win of the day. The victory placed Plattsburgh in the tournament’s fifth-place game against Oswego at noon.

Plattsburgh fell to Oswego, ultimately finishing sixth of eight teams. Despite the poor finish, the tournament provided a unique opportunity to face a wide field of competition.

“One of the most defining characteristics of rugby, and the thing I love about it is that it’s open to absolutely everyone. It doesn’t matter if you’re the best player on the field or if it’s your first time touching the ball, you can get out there and you can have a great time,” Mainville said. “There’s a place for everyone. This tournament really exemplified that.”

The Mountaineers lost to McGill in the championship at 3:30 p.m.

Mainville’s wife, MacKenzie, scored a try during the match.

Across the board, the tournament was a success for Plattsburgh State rugby. The turnout blew last year’s team total of 10 out of the water.

“This is the best turnout we’ve had that I can recall. Everyone was engaged and the games were excellent,” Jake Mainville said. “I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out.”

A joint award ceremony after the championships and individual receptions off-campus capped off a day that proved a bright future for Cardinal rugby.

“I’ve got the other schools saying, ‘Oh my god, we want to come back next year. Thank you so much,’” Graber said. “Seeing all this stuff just go so well, it just makes me happy and it makes me confident in the future to see things get even bigger.”

 

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