America defeats England for 2nd time in 250yrs

| 03/04/2014

(CTA): It was smiles all round at the end of a fiercely contested Cup of Nations organised by the Cayman Touch Association.  The Cayman Islands is a real melting pot of nationalities and teams (unofficially) representing the Cayman Islands. New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, Americas, England, and Ireland played in two pools over two nights to determine which nation would have the bragging rights in this inaugural “international” competition.  With morecut and thrust than a UN debate on Weapons of Mass Destruction, these warring nations battled long and hard into the Friday Night lights at Camana Bay Sports Field.

Pool A contained Cayman Local'ish, the Americas (kindly sponsored by Atlas Insurance Management), South Africa and Ireland. Team Americas adopted an open immigration policy and were far more welcoming to foreign nationals than any Homeland Security Officer in Miami International Airport ever has been. Their team huddle was like a scene from Ellis Island circa 1905. With Canadians, Quebecois, an American and a herd of Sefrikans representing, the team talks had to be tri-lingual just to get over the salient points of “run forwards, pass backwards”. Not since Joss Ackland claimed “deeplermatik eemunitee” in Lethal Weapon 2 have the Nations of America and South Africa been so closely entwined.

This team looked strong on paper and proved even stronger on grass. They were certainly speaking the same language when it came to easy wins over Ireland and Cayman Local’ish but the highlight of this pool was their game against South Africa. Rivalries were fierce given the nature of the personnel but Team America won out 6-3 and South Africa were consigned to the Plate Tournament.

Cayman Local’ish, boasting a fine crop of outstanding local young men and women rugby players, played a fast and loose form of touch that overpowered both South Africa and Ireland, beating both by the odd try. They came a cropper against the highly experienced Americas team though and had to settle for second place in the Pool which guaranteed a semi-final place against the winners of Pool B.

In Pool B England took on and took over its colonies with vital wins against New Zealand, Australia and Cayman Iguanas. Dressed like a cross between a Banksy graffiti art installation and an ambulance, this team wore the cross of St. George with pride. Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II would have been proud of their efforts especially as they had by far and away the oldest squad on show. Epitomized by dogged defence and stiff upper lips, the English found a real Dunkirk spirit to fend off the marauding hordes of New Zealand and Australia defeating both by narrow margins before squashing the hopes of the Cayman Iguanas like roadkill. The Cayman Iguanas, valiantly lead by Captain Guy Major, were largely new to the sport but made great strides over the course of the three games and will be better for the experience.

In the battle for the second place in Pool B Australia beat Australia Brac a.k.a. New Zealand 3-2. With a rivalry that is as old as whenever Captain Cook discovered them both, we were ensured a feisty affair.

In the semi-finals England took on Cayman Local’ish and put on their best performance of the tournament. Showing great organization and discipline mixed with the speed and fitness of MVP Neal Ainscow, they defeated the Locals 7-1 – a real case of “age before beauty” in this game!

The second semi saw Team America wallop Australia 6-1. The score line, if not the result, was a shock as pre-tournament predictions saw both of these teams parading for the Final. Led by Neal Montgomery and Riley Mullen, this “Little and Littler” of touch rugby proved too much for the Aussies who seemed to have gone off quicker than a raw prawn.

In the Plate Final, South Africa took on New Zealand in a re-run of the 1995 Rugby World Cup Final. South Africa narrowly won that one in the last minutes amidst Kiwi whining about the squad be deliberately poisoned by some dodgy food and a mysterious woman called Suzie.  Nineteen years on and this match was also extremely tight with history repeated itself as South Africa sealed the win in the dying minutes, breaking New Zealand hearts once more.

Although the braai (barbecue) was fully operational during the course of the tournament there has been no suggestion “Suzie” was serving! And so South Africa, who had such high hopes at the start of the tournament  walked away with just the Plate, presumably to be used to hold the huge boerewors sausage shared by the team in celebration.

On to the Grand Final. Team America versus England.  Both teams had gone through the competition undefeated and their conflicting styles would make for an excellent final. It was a billed as a rematch of that 1776 classic encounter between the two countries which pitted The Patriots against The Red Coats. America won that day and although revenge was very much on the agenda for England it proved a victory too far as Team America sealed the win by the slenderest of margins.

Any neutral observer would have looked at the two player rosters and assumed an easy victory for America but England showed real backbone and dominated possession for large periods. America had all the speed and showed great covering defence which caused England to run down some blind alleys rather than risk the wide open spaces.

In attack, America used typical surge and purge tactics to try and break the resolute English line even berating the referee at times. In the end it was a length-of-pitch interception try from Chris Brussow that proved the difference and gave his side the 3-2 victory. And so Team America made it two wins out of two in 250 years over the English. No tea was thrown into Boston harbour but several champagne corks were popped in celebration. Neal Ainscow of England won the tournament MVP award and he was outstanding. No doubt the rest of the English will also get MBEs for their noble efforts in defeat for Queen and Country.

Post tournament quotes from the Captains:

Jyoti Choi (Australia): “Ah look mate, fair dinkum! Stone the crows the comp was as tough as a crocs hide and the defeat to the Poms was a kick in the canastas but we all ended up having a bonza time, especially when we beat the bru’s from NZ.”

Alex Pineau: (Cayman Local’ish): "Next year bobo! Nobody's safe! Cayman is going to take it!"

Justin Colgan (Ireland): “They say if you’re lucky enough to be Irish, you’re lucky enough! However all the luck of the Irish must have been used up in the 6 Nations … to be sure to be sure”!

Dave Acutt (South Africa): We played great rugby and introduced the Irish to some Mzansi boerewors and tjops – it was a lekker jol. Most importantly, we relived the 1995 World Cup by beating New Zealand in the (Plate) Final.”

Adam Huckle (England): “To paraphrase the great Cecil Rhodes, “Despite our narrow loss, remember that you are an Englishman, and have consequently won first prize in the lottery of life.”

Brad Stephenson (New Zealand): “Everyone seemed to think the tourney was pretty choice!”

Riley Mullen (Americas): [quoting General Patton] “Americans love to fight. All Americans love the sting of battle.”

The Canadians just said “Eh!” and then apologized,

Lizzy Ard, spokesperson for the Cayman Iguanas said: “The Cayman Iguanas pulled together a young and pacey team that showed a lot of talent but unfortunately a lack of experience led to a reptile dysfunction on the night. We really enjoyed it and progressed as the games went on so next time we won’t be so green and should blue away the opposition."

Here are the team MVP’s as nominated by their own Captains. Well done one and all!

ENGLAND – Neal Ainscow;
AUSTRALIA – Mike McGrath
IRELAND – Dave Brosnan
AMERICAS – Neil Montgomery
NEW ZEALAND – Lewis Chong

OVERALL TOURNAMENT MVP – Neal Ainscow (England)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    always a priceless read!

  2. Anonymous says:

    Awesome stuff. Top notch sports reporting, really gives a flavor of the event.