Proud to be an American, and a Rugger

The 10th Anniversary of the terrorist attacks had the entire nation at pause. Football and baseball games today honored those lost as well as our veterans. Around the country, cities held ceremonies for the heroes of 9/11/01. In New Zealand, at the Rugby World Cup a young, and developing team, the USA Eagles played hard and brought pride to their nation.

Eagles Player Mike McDolald, told Universal Sports, “The day’s game carries a lot of significance and a lot of weight, and in the back of your mind is everything that the team represents.” Chicago Griffin and USA Player Andrew Suniula posted on line that it had been a heavily emotional day for our [the USA] camp. The Ireland and American team had a moment of silence before the game in remembrance of the thousands killed on American soil, and what broke the silence, a fan saying “Let’s Go America”.

The Eagles took the field and fought every minute of the game. Over 60 tackles were made by the US in the first half, they fought back to very powerful scrums from Ireland, and managed to keep Ireland from scoring their first try until just a minute before the half ended. In the second half after Ireland scored three tries, and with only 20 seconds left in the game, USA had a break through with Paul Emerick intercepting a pass and scoring for the USA. USA walked off the field smiling and leaving Ireland looking irritated and definitely intimidated by the fight the Eagles put up.

For ruggers, today also means remembering Mark Bingham. Bingham coached rugby and also played with the San Francisco Fog, he helped start up a rugby club in New York, he loved the game of rugby, helping develop the game and died trying to save his fellow countrymen. Bingham was on Flight 93 that crashed in Shanksville, PA in 2001. On this day ten years ago, he called his mother as their plane was being hijacked. His mother heard Mark and other passengers fighting back against the terrorists taking over the plane by trying to storm the cockpit. Bingham was an openly gay rugby player and in his memorial the Mark Kendall Bingham Memorial Cup. This biennial international rugby competition is played by predominately gay and bisexual men. It has been hosted in San Francisco 2002, London 2004, New York 2006, and Minneapolis 2010. The games have hosted 800 participants from USA teams, the United Kingdom, Neatherlands, Ireland, Canada and Australia. Bingham was awarded the Authur Ashe Courage Award after his death. Melissa Etheridge dedicated the song “Tuesday Morning” to him. He was also a key character in teh Flight 93 film. In Bingham’s death he not only made his country proud, but also the sport of rugby and the LGBT community. He is a true hero and will always be remembered, with his memorial tournament taking place in Manchester before Rugby 7s return to the 2016 Olympics.

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    Stephanie Esposito

    Born and raised on the Southside of Chicago. Got hooked on rugby in 2003, played college, CARFU and with Chicago North Shore Women's Club. Love the rugby community, traveling around and being able to find rugby friends where ever I roam.

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