Montauk Rugby 7s Side Cruises

The Sharks went 5-0 on the day
Nate Campbell, a member of Jamaica’s national team who plays for the Montauk Rugby Club, scored a number of times in a 7s tournament the club played host to at Montauk’s Hank Zebrowski field Saturday. Craig Macnaughton

The Montauk Rugby Club’s 7s side, a group, aside from Steve Turza, who’s 35, of hard-charging college-age players, ran roughshod over three other teams at Montauk’s Hank Zebrowski field Saturday in the first of what the young Sharks hope will be a revival of the large 7s tournaments played at East Hampton’s Herrick Park and at the high school in years past.

(A recent “25 Years Ago in Bonac Sports” column noted that 20 teams participated in the Montauk R.C.’s 7s tournament at East Hampton High School in June 1993, and that “it was the first time in the tourney’s five-year history that the host side made it into the final four.”)

Though treated rudely — the Sharks went 5-0 on the day, allowing only three tries to the opposition, and those in their final game — the sides who made the trip — Mitchell (College) Old Boys, St. A’s Alums, and Suffolk Bull Moose of Farmingville — were happy to have done so.

“We’re happy to promote the sport,” said Drew Castagna, president of the Mitchell Old Boys (M.O.B.), whose ranks include 60 to 80 alumni living in the tristate area. First and foremost, he said, the camaraderie in rugby couldn’t be beat. It was what had attracted him, he said, when he, a cross-country runner initially, was a sophomore at Mitchell, which is in New London, Conn.

He liked, he added, that in rugby “you can be yourself, you can make your own decisions, while at the same time being part of a team — there’s structure and individuality.”

Montauk’s side comprised Turza — “our mentor” — Calderon, Brandon Johnson, Nate Campbell, Jordan Johnson, Brian Anderson, Morgan Rojas, and Josh King.

There was some mixing and matching inasmuch as not all the sides, aside from Montauk, were at full strength. 

The Bull Moose started the tournament off with a 21-14 win over the M.O.B., but then Montauk announced itself with a 32-0 shellacking of St. A’s, augmented by two Bull Moose players. Fittingly, Turza was the first to score a try for the locals, followed by Campbell for a 10-0 halftime lead.

Campbell, who plays for Jamaica’s national team, ran back the opening kickoff of the second half, and followed up with a drop kick through the posts for 17-0. Moments later, after stripping the ball from an opponent, the Jamaican dashed off for another score before feeding Jordan Johnson for a try that began with a lineout play, and converting another stripped ball for the 32-0 final.

Montauk’s second outing, versus M.O.B., was similarly lopsided, with Jordan Johnson, Campbell (two), Brandon Johnson (three), and Calderon making tries in a 36-0 romp. 

Brandon Johnson, who, like Campbell, was unstoppable in the open field, is apparently on a path to playing some day for the Eagles, the United States’ national team. He added two conversion kicks as well in the rout of M.O.B.

And so it went.

It was the second 7s tournament victory for the Montauk Rugby Club, which last month played impressively in winning the Hell Gate Sevens tournament on Randalls Island in New York City.

Asked how many teams there were, Jordan Johnson said, before Saturday’s action began, “Too many to count . . . 75 games were played.”

Following that triumph, Calderon, who frequently flattens opponents with his tackles, said during an interview, “We’ve got athletes all over the field.”

There has been some talk, because of Montauk’s declining numbers in recent years, of combining with the Bull Moose club, though whether that will happen this fall remains to be seen. Charlie Collins said the Empire Geographical Union’s Division III schedule had yet to be published as of earlier this week.

Brandon Johnson has been playing 15s and 7s at Mount St. Mary’s in Maryland, Jordan, his first cousin, is to attend New England College this fall, Rojas is playing at York College in Pennsylvania, and Calderon, who has been attending Suffolk Community College, hopes to transfer to a college that offers architectural courses.

Steve Early of Sag Harbor, who has played and coached at the collegiate level, and who played with the Sharks on Randalls Island, helped with the reffing Saturday.

Brian Anderson, up for the summer from Raleigh, N.C., where he teaches, was given a chance to plug the Travis Field memorial softball tournament that is to be contested at the Terry King ball field in Amagansett from Aug. 2 through 5.

“We’ve got 18 teams this year — the most ever, enough for two divisions of nine teams,” he said, adding that “four scholarships were given out to East Hampton High School seniors this year.”

A pre-tournament Bracket Bash party, which is to include a Smokin’ Wolf buffet, cash bar, raffles, and a 50-50 drawing, is to be held tomorrow at the American Legion Hall in Amagansett from 6:30 to 10:30 p.m.