The Pelham U14 and U16 teams traveled to Bermuda on June 26 to take on the national teams of Bermuda. Pelham had a traveling squad of 55.
The club landed the afternoon of June 26 and were immediately bused to a training session with Ben Gollings of Serevi Rugby. Mr. Gollings is the all-time leading points scorer in international rugby 7s. After a two-hour session, the team then cooled off in the warm Atlantic Ocean waters on Elbow Beach and were treated to a beach bbq by the Bermuda Rugby Society. The team then went back to their base at Woodbridge Academy for jersey presentations and much-needed rest.
The next day, the Pelham teams set out for a fun outing at the Bermuda national swim stadium. There they got to do team building exercises trying to conquer an in-water obstacle course. The group was then off to the National Stadium of Bermuda, where the games would be played. The National Stadium is five years old, a gorgeous structure with perfect Bermuda grass for a playing surface.
After a team lunch, the U14 team took the field first against a big U14 team for Bermuda. The game started rough for the visitors as Bermuda got off to a fast start, scoring three tries in rapid succession. Pelham battled back, scoring one before halftime. Alex Oman made a great chase after a breaking Bermuda player, forcing him to lose the ball prior to scoring. Alex took off the other way supported by his teammates. This eventually lead to a James Bristow score in the corner. Bermuda led 4-1 at half.
The second half was a story of too little too late. Pelham applied some fantastic pressure on Bermuda, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the first half. Woods Johnson sprinted down the field on a kickoff, out jumping his opponent, snaring the ball out of the air and passing to a streaking Jean Vigroux. Jean was tackled short of the line, but Alex was able to move the ball on for a try. Pelham’s last try started with a long break by Duffy Doyle. He was tackled and his team won the ruck and was able to pound the ball inside several more times for an eventual team try (so many players were involved it could not be determined who scored). Pelham had scored two more tries to Bermuda’s one in he second half, but time ran out and Bermuda won 25-15 (5 tries to 3).
It was a great game. Man of the match was Alex Oman and captain was Woods Johnson. Honorable mentions went to Quinn Scanlon, Duffy Doyle and Michael Adamu.
Playing for the U14s were Sofia Imperato, Michael Adamu, Jean Vigroux, Alex Oman, Woods Johnson, James Bristow, Connor Gorman, Conner McNulty, James Hupprich, Will Jarka, Eric Benfieda and Duffy Doyle. Martin Ndou was injured and could not play but was a fantastic help running water.
Next up were the U16 teams. This was a highly anticipated rematch from last year when Pelham beat Bermuda 22-5 in NYC. Pelham started strong, pinning Bermuda deep in their own end for the first 15 minutes of play. But Pelham failed to capitalize on the strong start and this allowed Bermuda to hang on until the hot, humid weather started to take effect on the visitors. Eventually, Pelham did strike first with a long run by Luke Persanis who passed to an open Harry Fanning to touch down in the corner. Pelham led 5-0 and went in at halftime with that score line.
The lead did not last long, as a dropped ball landed right in the arms of a Bermuda winger and he sprinted 80 yards untouched to score between the posts. Bermuda made the conversion to go up 7-5. This was followed by some strong play from the home team resulting in another converted try. The score was 14-5 to Bermuda with 15 minutes to play.
Pelham battled back with some tough running and very strong defense, eventually resulting in a turnover and quick ball allowing David Monaco to run through several would be tacklers to score under the posts. Harry Fanning made the conversion to take the score to 14-12. On the ensuing kickoff, Bermuda was awarded a penalty. They opted to attempt to long kick from the sideline. The kick sailed wide, but an alert Kevin Ndou caught it and ran almost 50 yards, taking the ball into the Bermuda half. Some more quick play resulted in Bermuda committing a penalty. This time Pelham’s Fanning would not miss, slotting over the penalty kick to make it 15-14 in Pelham’s favor with 10 minutes to go. Pelham played strong defense to keep the score as it was and pulled out the win by a point.
It was a close one. Man of the match was Kevin Ndou. Honorable mentions went to Matt Biskup, Luke Persanis, David Monaco, Christian Battaglia, Ryan Killeen and Kees Huisman.
Starters were Henry Calamari, Morgan Collins, Christian Battaglia, Joe Nelson, Kevin Ndou, Dan Maydwell, Matt Biskup, North Westall (c), Luke Persanis (c), Cian Burns, Whit Johnson, Kees Huisman, Harry Fanning, Jake Galliani and Ryan Killeen.
Impact players: J.T. Perez, Alex Pasa, Jean Vigroux, Quinn Scanlon, Andrew Marshall, Alex Oman, Aron Hunter- Wallace, David Monaco and Josh Quinn.
Pelham Rugby would like to thank Pelham Recreation for its support, volunteer coaches Keith Killeen, Spencer Scanlon and Jamie McLellen for all their time, and the local businesses who donated to make this trip possible:
- Steifvater Real Estate
- Bayside Travel
- Pelham Civics
- Hudson Valley Bank