Montauk Ruggers Beat Rockaway; Rows Key Brewathlon

The Montauk rugby team defeats Rockaway 25-15
Charlie Collins, who had alertly picked up a Rockaway lineout kick that bounced on the right sideline, almost made it to the opponent’s try zone before the end of the first half of Saturday’s rugby game at Herrick Park. Craig Macnaughton

The Montauk rugby team continued to prove it can win at home (though rarely away) by defeating Rockaway, a team that had bested the Sharks earlier in the season, by a score of 25-15 here at Herrick Park on Saturday.

Meanwhile, at about the same time, there was a very well-attended Brew- athlon, a rowing-biking-running-rowing relay race underway at the Montauk Brewery that attracted 33 four-person teams and reaped $8,536 for the event’s beneficiary, the Old Montauk Athletic Club, which largely supports young East Hampton athletes.

Chugging used to be a pivotal “leg,” though it’s since been jettisoned because of insurance concerns. “Now,” said David Powers, a former OMAC athlete of the year, “the rowers are really the key.”

“The ringer [James Dietz, a former Olympic trials third-place finisher] Sinead brought down last year wasn’t able to make it this time,” said Caroline Cashin, the race director, who assigned her run leg on Irish Clams at Work to Ava Engstrom, who the day before had qualified for the state cross-country meet, because the big turnout required Cashin’s full attention.

The Bad News Beers (Neil Falkenhan, Mike Bahel, Drew Falkenhan, and Sara Colletti) won it, in 1 hour, 2 minutes, and 32 seconds. 

The “legs” comprised a 5,000-meter ergometer machine row, a 15K bike, a 5K run, and a 2,500-meter row.

Bill Costello, Barley Dunne, Eng- strom, and Fiachra Hallissey were, under the Irish Clams at Work banner, the runners-up, in 1:05:48.

“Ava was eighth out on the run, but the second one back,” Cashin said, adding that she ran the 3.1-mile distance in “about 19 minutes,” having been told by Kevin Barry, one of her coaches, not to go all out. Ava’s prize, a growler of beer, went to her father, Gerard.

Team Low Estrogen, Jill Hathaway (another ringer from Maine, who did both rows), Sinead FitzGibbon (bike), and Dennis Loebs (run), was third, in 1:06:10.

Beth Feit’s Blood, Sweat, and Beers (Tara Powers, John Broich, Feit, and Jay Short) missed medaling by one minute. Jon Jamet had the best bike split of the day, Cashin said.

Other competitive teams included Railway Fitness (Paul Cleary, Chris Carney, Lisa Carney, and Garth Wakeford), Team Truth (Ed Cashin, Kyle Cashin, Dylan Cashin, who, at 11, was the day’s youngest competitor, and Vern Falkenhan), and Team Green School (Bryan von Hagn, David Powers, Casey Powers, and Brian DeSesa). The Brewery (two teams), the East Hampton Village Ocean Rescue Squad, Lululemon, Sportime, Jayasports, and Core Dynamics sponsored entries as well.

As for the rugby team, which has not traveled well this fall, a fact that has largely accounted for its losses, it seemed on Saturday to be as strong as it was when it defeated the Empire Geographical Union’s South division runner-up, Brooklyn, 24-17 in Montauk on Sept. 23.

With four or five players missing, Rich Brierley, the side’s coach, was hoping he’d be able to field a complement, and indeed he did, thanks to the return to action of a professed retiree, John Glennon, and to a few last-minute arrivals.

Of Glennon, Brierley — who, at 58, had played 50 minutes of the Brooklyn game, but watched from the sidelines this time — said, “You don’t really retire from rugby, you just gradually fade away.”

Rockaway had defeated Montauk 17-10 earlier in the season, but not this time. Shane O’Keefe broke the ice with a penalty kick, worth three points, in the early going, and a few minutes later fed Sebastian Antonio, a Westhamptoner on the right wing, for a five-point try, capping a series of phases that had begun at midfield. O’Keefe’s point-after kick, taken from an angle, went wide of the uprights.

Rockaway made it 8-5 not long after, an alert back having intercepted a lateral of Glennon’s in Montauk territory and having run the remaining 20 yards with the ball, pretty much untouched, into Montauk’s try zone.

The visitors almost scored again, following a lineout play at midfield, but Jordan Johnson, one of the Sharks’ avid young players, drove him out of bounds with an eye-catching diving tackle near the 22-meter line, a play that prevented what likely would have been a score.

Brandon Johnson, Jordan’s cousin, a rugby all-American when he was at Mount St. Mary’s in Maryland last year, made it 13-5 in the final 10 minutes of the half, to which O’Keefe, whose kick was good, added two more points. Scott Abran, who usually is a forward, but who was playing with the backs that afternoon, made it 20-5 a few minutes before the break, the ball having come out to him from a scrum about 15 yards out.

The Sharks almost scored a fourth try just before the half as Charlie Collins alertly gathered in an intended lineout kick that had fallen short, on the right sideline, about 20 yards from Rockaway’s try zone. He was brought to the ground, however, before he could punch it in.

Dylan Cashin, 11, setting forth above on the 5K run leg, was the Brewathlon’s youngest competitor. Jack Graves