Forum Index > left for a 25-17 Oakland lead. With no Johnson to target, Schaub threw

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NEW PLYMOUTH, New Zealand -- Former President Bill Clinton played. So did George W. Bush. And the United States is reigning Olympic champion. Yet rugby for decades has remained in the margins of U.S. sporting life, squeezed out by basketball, American football, baseball and ice hockey. This year, however, more Americans are likely to watch rugby than ever before, thanks to coverage of the Rugby World Cup on NBC and Universal Sports. The U.S. Eagles are playing some of their best rugby ever, beating Russia 13-6 in a hard-fought match, five days after putting in an enormous defensive effort in a loss to Ireland. The Eagles are narrowing the gap between themselves and the top teams from Europe, South Africa and the Pacific. But the real growth in the sport is happening in Americas high schools and colleges. "Its absolutely growing, its the fastest growing team sport in the country," said Todd Clever, the charismatic long-haired leader of the U.S. World Cup squad in New Zealand. Clever, who has earned the nickname "Captain America" in these parts, was citing a recent study by the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association that found growth in rugby outpaced soccer, lacrosse, ice hockey and all other team sports in the U.S. between 2007 and 2009. In the associations 2011 update, rugby was pipped by lacrosse, but participation in rugby among all people aged six years and older continued to grow at just over 20 per cent annually. Clever said good press and increasing coverage of rugby sevens competitions -- a sport that will be included in the 2016 Olympics -- have helped. The 26-year-old Phil Thiel, another player on the Eagles team, said that in his home state of Michigan, there were six club teams for high school players when he began playing the sport -- and now there are 64. "A lot more people are getting exposed to the game," he said. America has a surprising legacy of back-to-back gold medals in Olympics rugby before the 15-a-side version ceased to be an Olympic event after the 1924 games. Thats due more to the sport being barely contested in the Olympics at that time than anything else. As for the former presidents, both played social rugby while students at college. Indeed, rugby perhaps has its strongest tradition in American colleges as a game thats not taken too seriously by the participants and is followed quickly by plenty of beer. For some athletes who cant make it to the top in American football, it provides an alternative sport with vigorous contact. The image of U.S. rugby as a purely social pastime is changing, however. "One hundred per cent it has changed since I started," said Chan Borland, 58, from San Diego, who made the trip to New Zealand to follow the Eagles. "Its much more serious and less social. Theres championships organized, and divisions." Borland started playing as a college student at San Diego State University. Like many who play, he found a community for life. After college, he played for the alumni team, the Old Aztecs. Then came the Ancient Aztecs. Hes still playing for a "Golden Oldies" team -- with some of the same players hes known all these decades. Rugbys history in Russia is much more recent. The team is playing in its first World Cup -- something that was considered such a big deal that a billionaire, a beauty queen and even the deputy prime minister, Alexander Zhukov, came to New Plymouth on the west coast of New Zealands north island to watch. Zhukov was quick to dismiss the Cold War storyline that the local media was promoting for the clash. "Now, the American sportsmen are friends of the Russian sportsmen," Zhukov said. "There is no more time of Cold War." But perhaps Thursdays win for the Eagles -- just the third in six World Cup tournaments, and the first since 2003 -- will signal its time for U.S. rugby to come in from the cold. "We are building a fan base, and thats really great," Clever said after the game. "And hopefully we can continue that, and keep our good performances coming, and hopefully the sport will grow." www.jerseystitans.com/Jersey-Chance-Warmack.htm . Turns out, the third basemans feet -- not to mention his glove -- work too. Alvarez scored on an unconventional slide in the second inning for the games only run and turned in a couple of defensive gems to help the Pirates to a 1-0 victory over the Chicago Cubs on Friday night. www.jerseystitans.com/Jersey-Zach-Brown.htm . Scrivens stopped 34 shots for his first career shutout, leading the Toronto Maple Leafs past the injury-ravaged Ottawa Senators 3-0. http://www.jerseystitans.com/Jersey-Craig-Stevens.htm . The announcement Thursday would allow owners Fred and Jeff Wilpon and Saul Katz to retain control of the team, which has been damaged by the Bernard Madoff scandal. The influx of money would help pay debts and cover operating expenses. www.jerseystitans.com/Jersey-Jackie-Battle.htm . Meanwhile, one person said reserve linebacker Will Herring was being released after two seasons with the club. The people spoke to The Associated Press Tuesday on condition of anonymity because contract details have not been announced by the team or the players representatives, though Herring said on Twitter that he appreciated his time in New Orleans. www.jerseystitans.com/Jersey-Bruce-Matthews.htm . "Harveys better!" they chanted, over and over. He was on this Friday night. Harvey outdid Strasburg in a marquee matchup of young aces, amping up while the crowd cheered his name and leading the New York Mets over the Washington Nationals 7-1. HOUSTON -- Coach Hue Jackson sank to his knees, buried his face in his hands and finally released the emotions hed been holding back. Up in the visitors suite at Reliant Stadium, Mark Davis wiped away tears with a paper towel and glanced to the sky. The Oakland Raiders won the day after their maverick owner Al Davis died, beating the Houston Texans 25-20 on Sunday behind Jason Campbells two touchdown passes. Michael Huff intercepted Matt Schaubs pass in the end zone on the final play, and the Raiders ran to celebrate a bittersweet victory unlike any other in the storied history of the franchise. Al, this ones for you. "One thing coach (Davis) always taught me was he said: Hue dont believe in plays, believe in players and eventually the players will make plays for you," Jackson said. "And thats what I did. I could just hear him saying that to me the whole time. Believe in your players and not the plays." Stadiums around the league observed a moment of silence before the early games to honour Davis, who died at his Oakland home at age 82. His son, Mark, took his place in the owners box, and the Raiders wore black decals on the backs of their helmets with "AL" written in silver letters. They were statistically dominated by Houston, outgained 473-278 and held to 11 first downs and 94 yards rushing. They still managed to do the only thing that ever mattered to Davis. They just won, baby. "We know hes looking down on us right now," Huff said. "This win is for him. I appreciate everything hes done for this organization. Hes never gone in our eyes. Well never let him go. Hes with us." Sebastian Janikowski kicked four field goals, and Oakland hung on to improve to 3-2. The Raiders drafted Janikowski in 2000, only the third time a kicker had been taken in the first round. "He was looking over us," Janikowski said. "I was feeling good and hitting everything in warmups." Schaub threw for 416 yards and two touchdowns but missed star receiver Andre Johnson, who sat out with a right hamstring injury. The Texans (3-2) still had a chance to win with under a minute left, facing a third-and-23 from the Oakland 39. Schaub scrambled and found tight end Joel Dreessen open at the five, and Schaub spiked the ball with seven seconds left. Instead of trying to run for the winning score, Schaub lobbed a pass to Jacoby Jones, and Huff stepped in to pick it off. "My mobility wasnt limited at the time," Schaub said, "but Im not necessarily a guy thats going to make a whole lot of guys miss in the open field." For Oakland, a messy victory never felt so good.dddddddddddd "This is a new beginning for this football team," Jackson said. "We dont care if theyre ugly, we dont care if theyre pretty. We just dont care. Our No. 1 purpose when we play is to win. "We all had coach tied to our hearts today." The Raiders pulled off a fake punt that Davis wouldve loved to keep momentum in the fourth quarter. After the Texans stopped Darren McFadden on third-and-1, Rock Cartwright took the snap and raced 35 yards to the Houston 25. Janikowski kicked a 42-yard field goal with 10 minutes left for a 25-17 Oakland lead. With no Johnson to target, Schaub threw six consecutive incompletions during one stretch of the final quarter. "Weve got to do a better job," receiver Kevin Walter said. "Weve got to do a better job at making plays when it really counts." Neil Rackers 40-yard field goal cut Oaklands lead to 25-20 with 2:56 left, and Houstons defence held to give the offence one more chance. The Raiders flew to Houston on Friday, then learned Saturday morning that Davis had died. Jackson gathered his players for an emotional meeting at their hotel. Jackson was surprised how emotional he got after Sundays game. "I thought I had it all out the other day," he said. "Obviously I didnt. I know hes looking down on this team and hes with us every step of the way." It didnt look promising after the Texans scored a touchdown on their opening series for the third straight game. Arian Foster had a 20-yard run against the leagues 29th-ranked run defence, and Walter caught a short touchdown pass with 8:15 left in the first quarter. Oakland, meanwhile, needed a turnover and blocked punt to generate early points. Defensive end Lamarr Houston intercepted Schaubs pass, which was deflected, setting up Janikowski for a 54-yard field goal. Oakland got the ball at the Texans 39 after Daryl Blackstock blocked Brett Hartmanns punt, but the Raiders stalled again, and Janikowski kicked a 55-yarder to make it 7-6. Janikowski is 5-for-6 on attempts 50 yards and longer this season, including one from 63 that tied an NFL record. Oakland was lucky to trail only 14-12 at the break after producing only four first downs in the opening half. Notes: Houston DE Mario Williams and FB James Casey left with pectoral muscle injuries. Texans coach Gary Kubiak did not know the severity of either injury. ... Raiders TE Matt Giordano left with a concussion. ... Schaub has thrown a touchdown pass in 13 consecutive games, a franchise record. cheap jerseys ' ' ' 
zakbowden1 27 days ago
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