Harlequins well-represented on select-side roster and win Midwest LAU playoff.

There are many reasons players step up to represent their union; the pride, the status or the accolades. The players representing the Wisconsin LAU on Saturday looked beyond these common motives and saw opportunity: the opportunity to play alongside other talented players that were willing to commit themselves to the game.

In recent years it has been difficult to rally Wisconsin’s top men’s players to commit to the LAU event but the 2010 effort was much more successful. With just three practice sessions, a team with a good balance of youth and experience shared the training resources of the Milwaukee Harlequins. The players were able to quickly identify each others talents and their strengths as a team.

The team set in place some guidelines to how they were going to play the games and discussed how they would react to situations and what adjustments they could make. The trainings were intense and focused on communication and solidifying as a unit.

Wisconsin vs. Chicago Area RFU (CARFU)

In the first match against CARFU, the Wisconsin side demonstrated their potential. Within 10 minutes it was apparent that the forward pack was working as a unit: with 7 of the 8 players playing their club rugby together this should not have been too surprising.

Johan Albert, the new player to the pack, quickly demonstrated his understanding of the game and showed great cohesion with his new teammates. The pairing of Albert and tight-head Aaron Young became the foundation for the Wisconsin scrum with the referee warning of moving to uncontested scrums.

The Wisconsin back line also put on a skills showcase for the players and spectators. They were confident in their execution and patiently probed the CARFU defense. When they penetrated the defensive line they continually looked to off load to a supporting player. As the match progressed, the timing in the backline improved and was rewarded with some well developed, multi-phased tries.

The final result was a convincing win over CARFU 41-19 with Kevin Smyth selected as the man-of-the-match.

Wisconsin vs. Ohio

The final opponent for the Wisconsin select side was Ohio, fresh off a 21-19 overtime win against Minnesota.

Ohio looked to be a very professional and polished side. It was clear their game plan was to keep it tight, hit with their forwards and then use their inside centers excellent boot to pin Wisconsin in their own half or force a kick for the touchline. Wisconsin went about the task in typical bluecollar fashion with the forwards absorbing the pressure and taking every opportunity to drain the legs of the Ohio forward pack. In the backline, fullback Mike Albert displayed poise and control in returning the kicks and continued to work with the wingers to maintain the ball and move it back up the field.

With the half-time score 11- 6 to Wisconsin, Ohio came out of the gates charging with a spirited 15 minutes of play. However, their offense plan did not bearing fruit and Ohio was not able to put together any other successful attacks to break the Wisconsin defense.

With Ohio frustrated at the scoreline and tiring from an intense period of attack, the final quarter was all Wisconsin as the team stretched out to a comfortable 34-13 lead. All the points scored had one thing in common: they consisted of a strong penetrating runs through the defensive line followed by supporting players coming up in waves. With Nic Tyson making deep runs past the gain line with increasing ease and Kevin Smyth at outside center having ever more space to slice and dice the defense, you could see the toll it was taking on the Ohio team. The last 10 minutes of the game was fully controlled by Wisconsin who were satisfied to play a territorial game, with Jeremy Pitfalski tactically kicking the ball out of Wisconsin’s half.

With the final whistle there may have been more relief from the Ohio team than celebration from Wisconsin: the Wisconsin players seemed more disappointed that it was over. Ben Smith and Paul Strobe both accepted man-of-the-match.

At the team dinner, speeches were made by both Paul Strobe and Ben Smith and awards were given. Both Ben and Paul commented on the history of Wisconsin’s men’s select side and the value it has in attracting top-talent to the area. Both men also saw the value to the union on bringing the select side together more often. The game ball was presented to Joe Kloiber Sr. without who’s dedication to the men’s select side, this team would not even have been brought together.

Manager

  • Joe Kloiber – Milwaukee Harlequins RFC

Coach

  • Mike Loader – Milwaukee Harlequins RFC

Players

  • Johan Albert – Milwaukee RFC

  • Mike Albert – Milwaukee RFC
  • Ben Bastian – Milwaukee Harlequins RFC
  • Mitch Caya – Milwaukee Harlequins RFC
  • Jeff Hoffman – Milwaukee Harlequins RFC
  • Leon Kendricks – Milwaukee Harlequins RFC
  • 
John Paul Kloiber – Milwaukee Harlequins RFC
  • Joseph Kloiber – Milwaukee Harlequins RFC
  • Thomas Kloiber – Milwaukee Harlequins RFC
  • Daniel Kurth – Milwaukee Harlequins RFC
  • Kyle Malaney – Milwaukee Harlequins RFC
  • Garret Meyer – Milwaukee Harlequins RFC

  • Jeff Noe -Milwaukee Harlequins RFC
  • Jeremy Pitfalski – Milwaukee RFC

  • Mike Reagles – Milwaukee Harlequins RFC
  • Ben Smith (Captain) – Milwaukee Harlequins RFC
  • Kevin Smyth – Milwaukee RFC
  • Paul Stroede (Vice Captain) – Wisconsin Rugby Club
  • Jason Talbot – Milwaukee RFC

  • Nic Tyson – Wisconsin Rugby Club
  • Aaron Young – Milwaukee Harlequins RFC

Mike Loader
Mike Loader
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