NEW YORK --
The weather called for Tropical Storm Danny to hit the East Coast Aug. 29, but it was the Marines who hit Randall’s Island, N.Y. like a storm to win the first ever Liberty Cup Rugby Tournament.
The Misfits, Camp Lejeune’s club rugby team, along with the Fort Bragg Rugby Football Club, traveled to the Big Apple to compete against the New York City’s Fire and Police departments in a 4-game round-robin tournament.
Following the events of Sept. 11, 2001, the military and New York’s emergency services discovered they shared a bond in their duty to serve, and expressed it through sports. The first game between Bragg Army RFC and NYPD was played in Fayetteville, N.C. during 2007. The event later evolved to include NYPD, FDNY, Bragg Army RFC and the Misfits.
The Misfits went out strong on their first match against NYPD, scoring in the first minute. They maintained the momentum to win 26-3, setting the stage for later success in the tournament.
In their second game, the Misfits went head-to-head with “New York’s Bravest.” The FDNY had just defeated the NYPD 54-4, and had a reputation as the team to contend with. With only 20 minutes to rest between matches, the Misfits’ fitness and conditioning played a key role in the game.
The Misfits scored early, however the firefighters fired back throughout the game as their players were bigger and played well to that strength. The score was close until the middle of the second half.
“Our substitutions and our ability to bring fresh legs into the game in the second half made the difference and we ended up racking up a lot of points late in the game” said Maj. Gerasimos Skordoulis, operations officer, U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Special Operations Command and Misfits’ team captain. The Misfits finished off the FDNY 37-5.
But the tournament wasn’t over. The Misfits had one game left to play and it was against their rivals from Fort Bragg.
“This was a typical Bragg versus Lejeune match,” said Skordoulis. The two teams had met twice in the spring with one win each under their belt and have been rivals for many years.
“It was a real brawl with a lot of continuous phases of play (rucks and mauls) and a lot of really hard hitting defense,” said Skordoulis. But it was the Misfits determination and perseverance that took them to victory with 17-13 and they earned the title of the first ever Liberty Cup Champions. “This was definitely the toughest match we played,” Skordoulis added.
“The team played extremely well,” Skordoulis said. The key players of the tournament were Cpl. Matthew Frost, with four tries in three games and Lance Cpl. Kulmiye Idris for his tremendous energy, strong running and big tackles on the defense.
The Misfits have five games scheduled for the fall season, with a goal to prepare the players for selection to the All-Marine Rugby Team and follow-up competition representing the Marine Corps in the Inter-service Championships.
“The Marines were excited about being in New York City, playing for a trophy against such great organizations and individuals,” said Skordoulis.