Milwaukee Rugby opens season with win over Chicago Griffins.

The Barbarians — the premier Milwaukee rugby outfit — kicked off their Division 1, 2014-2015 campaign with a gutsy performance on a wet pitch in mixed weather conditions against their southern rivals, the Chicago Griffins.

In front of their loyal fans on their home pitch, the first 40 minutes was a tight affair.

The Griffins kicked off the match and pinned the Barbarians in their own half for for the first 7 minutes but failed to put points on the board before the Barbarians moved down the pitch to score in the corner through winger Rob Bartlett.

The unconverted try set the score at 5-0 at the 10-minute mark.

A penalty kick five minutes later by fly-half Nick Vigder extended the Barbarian’s lead to 8, but then the match settled into a an even contest with both teams defending and attacking well, only to be let down by handling errors in the sometimes rainy conditions.

The Griffins eventually powered through the errors and responsed with their own unconverted try at 33 minutes through their reserve #19, bringing the score differential to just 3 points.

But the Barbarians were not content to let up before the half-time whistle. After some probing attacks, captain and center Mark Fine found some space just inside Griffins territory and sent a long, leading pass out to winger Nate Olsen.

The flat pass was just out of hand’s reach for Olsen who managed to chip ahead off the boot just before the ball crossed the touch line. Pursuing his own kick, Olsen won the ensuing foot race to the try zone to touch down near the posts for an easy conversion by Vigder.

At the half-time whistle, the score was 15-5.

Second half breaks for Milwaukee rugby

After the break, the scoreline and a few injuries began to frustrate the Griffins leading to another penalty in the red zone. Vigder kept the scoreboard ticking over with a successful penalty kick at 42 minutes.

At 51 minutes, that frustration boiled over and the Griffins try-scorer #19 was sent off with a yellow card.

The Barbarians immediately capitalized with a try by prop Joseph Kloiber and conversion by Fine with starting kicker Vigder having been substituted at 50 minutes. This brought the score to 25-5 and gave the Barbarians a commanding lead in the match and the freedom to bring fresh legs onto the pitch.

The reserve players elevated the tempo of the match very clearly as the entire team — including collegiate All American and recent RPM sign Ben Landry — kicked the match into overdrive.

However, once back to full strength, the Griffins showed that the match was not yet over with long runs up the middle and great defense resulting in a 58th-minute penalty by the full back. Score, 25-8.

The next 15 minutes saw a lot of thrust and parry by both sides, but the scoreline held until reserve scrum-half Alex Kovisto — #21 — finished off an excellent team try, dotting down underneath the posts at the 76th minute.

The bonus-point try and conversion by Fine put the match out of reach for the Griffins at 32-8.

But to their credit, the Griffins did not give up. The fullback scored and converted his own try at the final whistle to close the match at 32-15.

The result leaves puts the Barbarians in a 4-way tie for first place and the Griffins with a 4-way tie for 5th.


1. Joseph Kloiber (1T)
2. Kyle Cwiklis
3. JP Kloiber
4. Ben Bastian
5. Ben Landry
6. Alex Oldakowski
7. Ryan Walczak
8. Charlie Wagner
9. Jerry Petfalski
10. Nick Vigder (1C, 2P)
11. Nate Olsen (1T)
12. Kevin Smyth
13. Mark Fine (C) (2C)
14. Rob Bartlett (1T)
15. Zach Albert

16. RJ Nowak
17. Paul Castillo
18. Ben Smith
19. Ryan Hawken
20. Tony Sims
21. Alex Koivisto (1T)
22. Jason Talbot
23. Justin Patterson

Vic Drover
Vic Drover

Vic has a long history in and around the sport of rugby both in Canada and the US. He has played for and started numerous clubs (Vandal's RFC, Strathcona Druids, Suffolk Bull Moose, West Side Harlequins, Milwaukee Barbarians, Hamilton Girls Rugby), and served many roles over the years at all administrative levels. Vic joined the Harlequins in 2007 and remained an active club member through the transition to the Barbarians. These days, he spends his rugby time playing tag rugby and touring with the Old Boys, keeping the club website updated, helping organize the Lakefront 7s, and fundraising.

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