Old Boys rugby is still rugby and at times it can be great quality rugby! The fellas at Back Bay Rugby Football Club have been staging an opportunity for great Old Boys rugby with their Annual Sharkapalloza Rugby Festival (Old Boys Tournament).
The Back Bay’s 4th Sharkapalloza Rugby Festival was held this past weekend on Balboa Island in Newport Beach, CA. The over 40 tournament featured eight sides this year (Back Bay, Huntington Beach, North County/Temecula, Las Vegas Irish, Las Vegas Back Jacks, Fresno, Old Southwest, and the Misfits). Now you may say ah these are old boys, how good was the competition? We’ll if you know your rugby history, you’ll know that some of these sides were powers at different times in the past 10-15 years in NorCal and SoCal (Back Bay, Fresno, Vegas, etc.). Well those players who had made up those competitive sides are now the old boys and playing in this tournament. The skills, experience and quality of rugby is very high. The Misfits which are a touring side made up of players from all over the country (Santa Monica, OMBAC, Denver Barbos, Haggis, New York, etc.) feature several former Eagles, a few with international experience, a number of players who played for the old Super League, and the Pacific Premiership.
Nearly all the games were close, with a try or less deciding many of the games. The format that BB had set up ensured all sided got at least two games, and most playing three. You able to see some great players who still have some excellent skills, some great runs, and some serious hits this past Saturday. These old guys still can bring it!
While this is an old boy’s rugby and more social, each team there was seeking to win. The closer teams got to winning the tournament the more intense the matches and play became.
Fresno RFC’s Old Boys who call themselves the Old Guard won the Sharkapalloa tournament for a third consecutive year! They’ve now won the tournament 3 of the 4 years. This year the Cup Final came down to a rematch of last year’s final with Fresno facing off against the Las Vegas Blackjack’s side. It was one of the top matches of the day. Fresno had gone undefeated in the tournament again defeating North County in the first match, then edging out the Misfits, 8 to 5 in the second to set up a rematch with the Black Jacks, (who played in one of the best matches of the day in the semi vs host Back Bay).
This is a great tournament, not just because of the location (literally playing on a pitch 10 meters from the sandy beach), but the fun kickback atmosphere that comes with being on the beach, Old Boys who love to talk about how great they were and the high quality and competition level of the Old Boys sides who show up in this tournament each year.
Hats off the guys at Back Bay for hosting this outstanding tournament! Playing 15s tournaments now days is rare and to have an Old Boys 15 tourney is even more rare. Glad that this tournament is here in California and so accessible for so many local sides. Looking forward to being out there next year to “participate” and also cover Sharkapalloza 5!