On February 20th, 1999 the Austin Huns RFC embarked on it’s 3rd international tour when they set out for the beautiful Cayman Islands in the British West Indies. 23 players and 10 supporters made the unforgettable 6 day journey. The tour roster was as follows:
Players Position Club Affiliation Supporters
Brent Zipoy – Captain prop Huns Lynn Polasky
Andrew Bulloch wing, fullback Huns Michelle Kumar-Misir
Steve Bell lock Huns Cynthia Hegemier
Jim Boggs wing, scrumhalf Huns
Lou DeLa Cruz prop Huns Dawn Thompson
Jack Bloom prop Huns Nicole Hosler
Scott Constable flanker Huns Jennifer Hosler
Mike Gaub lock, flanker Huns Kim Davis
Tim Barnard wing Huns Janna Swain
Dan Medlin lock Huns
Justin Whitehead – Vice Captain flyhalf, center Huns
Ivan Moorhead lock, 8-man Ft. Worth
Doug Forte center Huns
Ed Benson flanker, hooker Huns
Mark Traeger – Vice Captain flanker Huns Tricha Traeger
Eric Burns hooker Huns
Paul Harris flyhalf Alamo City
Mike Denehy center Alamo City
James Tabor wing Huns
John Deveniza prop Bay Area
Jeff Erskine scrumhalf Alamo City
Jaime Atkins flanker, 8-man Alamo City
Rudi Bolm center, flanker Huns
Terry Stephenson coach Huns
Saturday Feb 20th
The morning of the departure 20 members of the tour party assembled at Nasty’s and carpooled down to Houston Intercontinental Airport to meet up with the rest of the group. 2 Alamo City players flew into IAH from San Antonio while one player came in from Ft Worth and one former AC player came all the way from England to join the tour in Grand Cayman. Once we were finally all assembled the waiting began. Delay after delay caused the Huns to run up quite a tab at the airport bar. Lou DeLa Cruz was forced to consume an entire gallon of apple juice 10 minutes before boarding for an earlier offense. But the punishment lost its effect when our departure got delayed yet again. Finally we were allowed to board around 8 pm and were on our way. After a 3 hour flight where several tour party members joined the illustrious “Mile High Club” the Huns finally touched down in Grand Cayman. To our delight several Cayman players were awaiting our arrival outside the terminal with several coolers full of Heineken and Red Stripe. We then preceded to the FREE hotel provided by our gracious hosts where more beers from the hosts, as well as, a few of the cases of Shiner Beer that we brought for them were consumed. Once all the rooms were divided up a few players players decided to stay with some of the Cayman players.
Sunday Feb 21st (game day)
The morning came fast and the Huns were forced to drag their jet lagged bones out to pitch for a noon kickoff vs the Cayman II’s. Preceding the match the Cayman Women’s team invited the Huns supporters to join them in a match of touch 7’s. Although some of the Austin women play rugby on a regular basis, this was the first experience on the pitch for the others. The match was close and all seemed to enjoy it. There was even talk of trying to start a women’s touch league in Austin. The Huns all showed up to the match wearing their number ones and shared the Cayman locker room to prepare for the match. It was also at this point that Jeff Erskine and Jaime Atkins finally joined up with the group. At noon a crowd of about 100 people showed up to root on the home side under hot and humid conditions. The Huns knew they were in for a tough match due to the weather and their condition from the night before. We also learned that the son of legendary British Lion Barry John was the starting caymans_fatherabe.GIF (65932 bytes)flyhalf for the Caymans II’s. The game plan was to stop their speedy backs and to retain possession in the forwards. The plan was working quite well until midway through the first half the hosts scored an unconverted try in the corner. The Huns did not give up and scrumhalf Jeff Erskine eventually scored off a pop kick into goal. Paul Harris was unable to convert and the Huns went into the half trailing only 7-5. Even though the Huns made several substitutions at the half the heat finally started to take its toll. The Huns defense was put to the test as the majority of the second half was played in their own half. Center Justin Whitehead also suffered a broken cheekbone only 5 minutes into the second half. Luckily for Justin one of the Cayman women on hand was a doctor and took him to the hospital for repairs. She also happened to be watching a very cute little girl who instantly fell in love. VIOLA…instant fatherhood. The loss of the Huns best back opened many gaps in the defense and finally the hosts were able to put in a few more scores to secure a 19-5 victory. Andrew Bulloch earned man of the match honors for his work at fullback which was especially rewarding due to it being his first time at the position. Huns coach Terry Stephenson then declared the Cayman II’s 8-man as their outstanding player of the match. The Cayman players then invited the tour party to the beach where a huge barbeque was served. We were all amazing at the generosity of our hosts who served huge steaks and many other side dishes. Bottomless barrels of beer and rum punch were also served. After the barbeque the many of the Huns rented jeeps and toured the island and then hit some of the night spots. Rudi almost found himself in jail after head butting a local who was mocking his failing attempts at impressing the ladies while Doug “E Fresh” Forte put himself on the bar’s security tapes by dancing naked on the bar.
Monday Feb 22nd
Monday the group split up to explore the many beautiful sites on the island. Some went diving and while others went shopping and touring about in jeeps. The water was a bit rough so most of the divers where forced to only snorkel. At 6 pm the group gathered at the bus depot to be transferred to an evening dinner cruise around the bay.cUnfortunately about 7 or 8 members of the group missed out on the cruise because they thought the bus left at a later time. Nevertheless, we still had a contingent of around 28 hungry and thirsty ruggers who, to the dismay of the other boat travelers, were ready to party. The Huns made good use of the open bar and were determined to get their moneys worth. The owner of the boat was an Aussie who was used to rugby players and let most of the shenanigans go by unchecked until he heard a verse of “Father Abraham”. As the party continued the phrase “SHOW US YOUR MOTOR (pronounced mo-ta)” continued to ring out to many of the female party goers. To those of you who never heard this phrase before just ask a South African rugger. Everyone on board was a good sport and didn’t seem to mind the rowdy ruggers. Once back on the bus the songs started to come out. Unfortunately for me I was too out of it to get any of the lines right and ended up shooting several boots. We then arrived back downtown and quickly sought out the local pubs. Coach Terry then determined a few of us, mainly me, had to many drinks and had us go back to the hotel. Luckily there were a few designated drivers who were able to get everyone back safe. The drunk driving laws on the island are very strict.
Tuesday Feb 23rd (match day)
Tuesday came early again due to Monday nights exploits and Huns knew they had a big challenge ahead. The big game didn’t kickoff till 4 or 5 that afternoon so many of the players hit the beach and also took trips out to the famous Stringray City. Stringray City is area where the water is only about 4 feet deep and is inhabited by thousands of stringrays and other wild sea creatures. It is quite intimidating for the stringray virgin to have several stringrays rub up against you searching for food. It did help serve as a hang over cure and helped clear our minds for the upcoming match. We assembled back at the hotel and were transported to the Cayman pitch for a match against the Cayman National side. The Cayman RFU is made up of 3 men’s sides, 1 old boy side, a woman’s side, and a youth team. When the Cayman Rugby Club goes on tour or hosts a touring side they combine their best players to make a Cayman I and II side. And since the majority of the players are expats and have played most of their lives, we knew this would be a very difficult match. Coach Stephenson made a couple of positional changes that seemed to work very effectively. Probably the best change was to put 6ft 6 Irishman Ivan Moorhead at 8-man. Ivan’s experience and size added alot of extra strength to the scrum and we ended up pushing over the large Cayman pack on a stolen line out to score the opening try. The large Cayman crowd was a bit shocked at the opening display and the Cayman players were determined to turn the game around. And they did just that countering the Huns unconverted try with try of their own and a conversion to take a 7-5 lead. Just like the Sunday match the Huns were only trailing by 2. This time, however, the sky was overcast and the temperature was cool. The close score gave the Huns confidence and the second half was tight and exciting. Flyhalf Paul Harris was spot on with his touch kicking. Unfortunately he wasn’t able to convert his penalty kicks and conversion. The Huns kept the pressure on but couldn’t seem to put one more over and fell to the hosts 7-5. Even in defeat the Huns were quite happy with their performance and got many praises from their opposites. After the players cleaned up they all joined together in the Cayman clubhouse for curry and beers. After the curry the Cayman president made some presentations to the Huns and a few of their players who had recent birthdays. Sidney (CRU pres) presented Huns captain Brent Zipoy with a team plaque and a few t-shirts. He also presented coach Terry with a few shirts as well. The Cayman I and II captains then presented Andrew Bulloch (first match) and Paul Harris (second match) with man of the matches honors. Special mention was made of Rudi Bolm’s exceptional tackling throughout both matches. I then had the honor of presenting our Cayman hosts with a Huns plaque and an assortment of 40 or so Huns t-shirts for the players. Huns polo’s were also awarded to the Cayman men of the matches, both captains, to Sidney and also to Anthony “Piccolo” (can’t remember last name) who was responsible for arranging the tour. We then had a big drink up with each team taking turns singing traditional rugby songs at the clubhouse and then made our way to more of the islands many night spots. A few of the players eventually made it back to the beach a waited for the sun to come up where more debauchery occurred include to disappearance of a barbie doll.
Wednesday Feb 24th
Wednesday was a recovery day and most the players returned to the beach to snorkel and scuba dive. Others also visited the turtle farm and “Hell” which is a popular tourist location named after the black rocks around the area that make it look ominous from the sea. My group was fortunate enough to take a submarine cruise captained by Cayman loose forward Chris “Jacko” Jackson. At the end of the night we had a “kangaroo court” to discuss the offenses of the tour. Unfortunately the two players assigned to run the court didn’t have any experience at it and it was rather tame. A few boots shot, a couple of monkey boy dances, and few belly shots off the large belly of prop Johnny D. After most of the Huns relaxed on the beach and some returned to the hotel while still a few kept going strong at the local night clubs.
Thursday Feb 25th
On Thursday morning the Huns gathered their things and met up at the Grand Cayman airport to return to Houston. While waiting at the airport we learned our game was televised by the local news station. We also talked to a few other visitors who had seen us at the dinner cruise and didn’t seem to put off. All in all it was a great trip. The Cayman hosts were extremely generous and wonderful hosts. All agreed that a return trip should be made and all the Huns hope we can return the favor in the near future. The Cayman RFU are one of the few clubs in the world who have to fly to their away games and vice-versa when they host. They love their rugby and love to host touring teams. To get in touch with “Piccolo” email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.