Bi-weekly touch rugby games lead retired players in Milwaukee back to full-contact matches

After years of discussions, the Milwaukee Barbarians finally organized an alumni and supporters group that has been playing touch rugby every other week since April 2016.

Looking to draw on all interested rugby players in the area, the group became known as the Milwaukee-Area Old Rugby Individuals or MAORIs, in homage to the backup squad of New Zealand’s mighty All Blacks!

Touch rugby leads to full contact matches

As the MAORIs continued to attract more participants — both men and women — the idea of returning to the pitch for a proper game of contact rugby gained interest. And thus was hatched the idea to attend the Stu Daily 10s tournament in Cottage Grove, WI.

The Stu Daily 10s is organized by the Wisconsin Rugby Club who also have a great old boy contingent with an absolutely fabulous name: the Very Old Men, Idiots & Twits or VOMITs.

And thus, this past Saturday the MAORIs headed to Cottage Grove for a pair of matches against the VOMITs.

Match 1 - a painful reminder

The first match kicked off around 9:00 AM and began with an even back and forth between the sides. Having not played contact rugby for many years, it took a while for the players to get used to the physicality of the match.

Eventually, the MAORIs found their rhythm. Some good ball movement and rucking kept ball in play and allowed field general Sean Murphy to survey the defense and distribute the ball accordingly.

After 20 minutes — which felt like an hour — the referee decided that both sides had been through enough and blew the whistle. Somehow, the MAORIs found the try zone one more time than the VOMITS and took the first match 24-17.

While there was excitement from the MAORIs for the win, much of it appeared to the due to the fact the match was over and that seats were within eyesight!

2016 08 13 milwaukee rugby maoris v vomits

Match 2 - try time

After some rest and a bit of persuading, the MAORIs found the energy to get out of their chairs and onto the pitch once again.

The communication and positioning on defense was much stronger in this match, leaving little time and space for the VOMITs to attack.

Two tries by Murphy highlighted the match, as did a late surge by the VOMITs who played hard to the final whistle and were rewarded with a try in the final minutes.

Despite the lopsided 29-5 scoreline, players on both sides rejoiced when the referee thankfully blew the whistle for the final time of the day. Beers were generously provided by the tournament organizers and players began the well-known ritual of drastically embellishing the amazing skills on display at this tournament and in years past.

Alumni are an essential part of any rugby club

Regularly finding time to get ruggers together to pass the ball around is not an easy task. And participating in the inaugural tournament as a group is a big milestone for the Milwaukee-area rugby club.

Fostering a vibrant network of alumni is critical to the ongoing success of the Barbarians. And so the club extends a heartfelt thank-you to Joe Cunningham who has been instrumental in organizing the MAORIs as well as personally providing refreshments from Sam Adams — one of our generous sponsors — after each touch rugby session.

Interested in playing some touch rugby?

If you think the MAORIs might be right for you, check our Milwaukee rugby calendar for the next touch rugby session and come on down. No invitation is necessary, and all are welcome.

The MAORIs play every other week on either Wednesday or Thursday, except when there is snow on the ground.

MAORIs at Stu Daily 10s:

  • Joe Birdsall
  • Wayne Cutler
  • Mitch Caya
  • Joe Cunningham
  • Vic Drover
  • Joe Foro
  • Tal Goldwater
  • Matt Gordon
  • Kurt Kinderfather
  • Joe Kloiber
  • Joseph Kloiber
  • Mike McEvilly
  • Sean Murphy
  • Ben Nirschl
  • Eugene Ohm
  • Kelley Schauer
  • Pat Sharpe
  • Pete Woelfel