Notre Dame Rugby 60 Year Reunion

By Sal Bommarito, ’70

I attended the 60th year celebration of Notre Dame Rugby in South Bend, Indiana this past weekend. It was an opportunity to see fellow teammates from my rugby days, 1966 through 1970.

So many memories came to mind during the two-day event that culminated with a Notre Dame/Purdue football confrontation. Some team members I had not seen for over 50 years. Like all reunions, it’s pretty strange to see someone after many years. I was attached to six other guys and one wife for the events, which included the aforementioned football game, varsity and junior varsity rugby matches, a dinner and a tailgate party.

I spent most of my time with our former captain, “doughboy,” “metro” and his wife. When I first caught up with the group, we chatted about our spouses, children and grandchildren. Everyone is pretty much retired; we are all 72 or 73 years old.

Of course, we discussed our respective medical issues. You can’t put two or more old guys together and not discuss prostate and heart issues. Given that we all experienced some belly expansion and a lot of lines on our faces, the conversations were apropos.

Surprisingly, we didn’t spend much time reliving former victories and losses on the pitch. I seemed to remember far more game moments than the others, something that struck me as odd. By far the most talked about event was our trip to Ireland, where we played six matches against college level teams and a couple of pickup games. My recollection of these events are still vivid.

During our rugby days, scrimmaging everyday was the usual activity. It gave the younger players an opportunity to play against the first team. These sessions were brutal and much more violent than most of our matches with other college teams and rugby clubs. The competition was extraordinary. And, injuries were quite common.

Rugby was a year-round commitment. We had Fall and Spring matches, and we worked out together all winter in the football stadium underneath the stands and up and down the steps of the stadium in freezing weather. When the Indiana snow subsided, we took it to the rugby field and began the grueling intra-squad matches that would determine who started on the first and second teams. The starting teams were chosen by the captain and four or five starters. There was a tremendous amount of animosity during these sessions of team selections.

Rugby is a violent sport. Winston Churchill said, “Soccer is a gentleman’s game played by hooligans, and rugby is a hooligan’s game played by gentlemen.” I wouldn’t exactly call us gentlemen. Suffice it to say injuries were commonplace. I had my fair share, two concussions, many stitches, a broken hand, numerous other broken bones, etc.

Quite a few Notre Dame students played football in high school. I was one of them. I considered walking on and trying to make the football team, but it was a it was a losing proposition. The freshman football team had 30 plus scholarship players, some of the most fantastic athletes in the country. There was little need for walk-on support.

So, what does one do at ND if you can’t play football, you play rugby? We had all-state high school players on the team. We always had excellent players and won most of our matches. We did get our asses handed to us when we went West to play against Berkeley.

When I arrived at school, which was all men by the way, I went to a student fair where the clubs on campus recruited freshmen. I saw the rugby representative and was immediately seduced. Ultimately, I played and traveled for four years and had the best time given the lack of women on campus. We tried to schedule games in cities where the football team was playing, so we could see them live.

After a hard game on the pitch, ruggers are always ready to party. The rugby team was my “animal house.” There were no fraternities, so we mustered after each game with our opponents and tore the house down, literally. The school asked us to become a varsity sport, and we responded by asking them why we would give up the opportunity to have a beer and a cigarette at halftime.

The friendships that developed where longstanding. When I was a freshman, I got to know many of the older teammates who looked after me. I was 17 when I arrived at ND. Unfortunately, there were very few of the old timers at this reunion, which saddened me greatly.

It’s impossible to not circle back to our Irish tour in the spring of 1968. Notre Dame in Ireland was a real event for the natives. They loved the way we played rugby, like US football, and the way we partied and misbehaved when we were off the pitch. We were greeted in some towns by mayors, clergyman who prayed for our souls and party hounds just like ourselves. The more we misbehaved the more the locals loved us.

While traveling around the country, we stopped at a Guinness facility. The company was nice to give us an extended tour of the operation ending with a longer period of time to taste their beers. It was a cinch to drink two six packs in a 1/2 an hour, which all 30 of us accomplished. We preceded to get rowdy and were escorted off the premises. Someone, I can’t imagine who, stole the Guinness flag off the top of the factory.

The friendships we made were strong but not strong enough to ensure contact because of the Vietnam War and the formation of new families. We were all trying to achieve success and take care of our loved ones. In my case, 50 years streaked by before I made contact with my rugby buddies.

A half century changed the physical layout of the campus and turned all of us into old men with cherished memories. I’m glad metro talked me into participating in the 60th celebration.

Biden’s Downfall: Afghanistan, Immigration and Entitlements

Let’s face it, Joe Biden is having a really difficult time performing the role of chief executive and commander-in-chief. His leadership skills are shaky at best, and his aides and fellow Democrats are leading him down some dangerous paths.

There are a few issues that stand out, that could very well foretell the future of the Biden presidency, even at this early stage.

The Biden administration has been saying it is doing a great job disengaging in Afghanistan, dealing with its leadership and extricating Americans trapped in the country. These comments are laughable.

Afghanistan is a dangerous place that is home to the Taliban, a misogynistic group of men who place little value on women and anyone who is not Islamic. The group is so warped that it believes fostering terrorist organizations such as al Qaeda and violent militia groups are legitimate undertakings.

The Taliban hates America for a variety of reasons, the most important is that they believe we are heathens. We invaded their country 20 something years ago and have not been able to deflate the spirit and determination of Taliban rebels. Many in history have had the same result.

The time for America to evacuate Afghanistan arrived, and Joe Biden ordered the troops home. For some reason, he decided to abandon Americans who would who were distributed throughout the country and Afghans who worked with America over the years. Moreover, equipment, armaments and intelligence were left behind in the haste to leave the country rapidly. Now the Taliban is killing its people with US rifles and tanks.

It was a plan from hell. Who told Biden that the Taliban would allow Americans to leave without any repercussions? Who told Biden that the government transfer would be bloodless and orderly? Who told Biden that the Taliban would allow anyone to leave the country, including people who were loyal to the US? Either the generals told the president everything would be hunky dory, or he made a decision to that effect.

Individuals who we’re locked up for terrorist crimes at Gitmo now hold senior positions in the government. The deadliest Taliban leaders are controlling the country. And, terrorist groups are mustering on Afghan soil preparing to wreak havoc on peaceful neighbors and the US.

Biden’s grade for his Afghanistan strategy is an “F”, even if a couple hundred thousand people have been air lifted from the country to this point.

We haven’t heard much about the southern border for the past few weeks, but the situation is dreadful. Biden inadvertently invited individuals from below the border to come to America as part of his open border immigration policy. Who arrived? Dirt poor people, people with no hope, sick people, uneducated people and a bunch of violent people. The sad part is that the number of unaccompanied minors grows every day.

It’s already been speculated why Biden and Democrats would welcome so many into the US. Some say it is because these people will ultimately support liberal causes in our country when they become citizens? It’s hard to imagine a person wading across the Rio Grande today pulling a lever to vote for AOC or Nancy Pelosi in the next 10 years.

As with Afghanistan, the president had no plan to deal with the mass of humanity that is now parked at our borders.

And finally, I want to discuss the $3.5 trillion entitlement giveaway that Democrats or at least most of them believe is so important.

The question is not who wants the legislation. Democrats support numerous social programs, climate change, etc. Rather what are the implications of the legislation?

They are horrendous. It will end the economic growth we are now experiencing. When this aid is monetized it will create inflation and drive us into a recession. But we’ve already rehashed all this. The question is will it come to fruition?

Democrats are trying to use parliamentary procedures in Congress to avoid an expected filibuster by Republicans. I’m not quite sure of the possibility. But assuming it is doable, Democrats probably won’t have the votes to pass the legislation in the Senate and in the House.

Sen. Joe Manchin, a Democrat from West Virginia, is not going to vote for the legislation. He changes the vote in the Senate from 50-50, which does not include the vice president who votes in a tie, to 51-49 for Republicans. The senator said he was not going to support a massive entitlement without concurrence of both political parties.

In the House, speaker Pelosi can only lose three or four votes given the magnitude of the legislation. It is likely that a few Democrats will resist.

The writing is on the wall. All of Biden’s pet projects are turning to garbage. He is going to see that his tenure is limited by the results of the 2022 midterm elections.

Biden Is A Puppet For Radical Liberals

From the start of Biden’s campaign to become president, I had doubts that unfortunately have come to fruition. The president was a political hack for years, mostly in the Senate. He concluded his subservient years with an 8-year stint as vice president in the Obama administration.

Most of the time, Biden bounced around like a pinball trying to make his constituencies and his colleagues love him, appreciate his ideology and understand his propensity to flip flop for political expediency. Biden has had a change of heart about too many issues over the years to outline in this post. They include abortion, crime and international relations.

What’s most important is what has Biden morphed into during the first few months of his presidency. For one thing, it is hard to believe that he is the origin of new policies he now espouses. Joe Biden has become a puppet for certain left-wing influences in the Democratic Party. He decided to go far left even though, in in his heart, he knows that the demands of Pelosi, AOC and Schumer are not good for America.

The only semi original idea he has put into action was the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan. To follow in the footsteps of four presidents, Biden did not waste time jawboning about the hopeless situation in the country. He recognized that supporting a nation in Asia that is dominated by radical Islamic bullies and misogynists was very bad policy and not endearing to Americans.

Unfortunately, it also appears that Biden, looking for a quick political victory, ended up with egg on his face by ignoring the warnings of his generals about the strength and determination of the Taliban. For some unknown reason, Biden ordered the exit of soldiers before the evacuation of Americans and helpful Afghans. The Taliban jumped on this naive strategy and took control of the country. The result: a promised exit, but with loss of American and Afghan lives. The country is now in turmoil in the hands of violent and uncivilized religious fanatics.

The sh__storm on the southern border of the US was another screwup that materialized in a matter of days. Joe wanted to be supportive of open borders and encourage a gaggle of new and likely Democrat voters to enter the US illegally. These people, thousands of them, had no money, no place to go in the US, no papers, no job opportunities and were in poor health (some with COVID).

In a heartbeat, Biden’s sycophants created a refugee crisis that rivals situations we have seen throughout the Middle East and other places around the world. These people are not going to be able to vote for liberal causes for some extended period of time assuming they can dodge immigration officials and find someplace to live in America.

And lastly, what is going on with the infrastructure deal? Virtually every politician is in favor of a proposal to improve our bridges, roads and other infrastructure across the country. Pelosi refused to move forward unless a follow-up deal for three to $4 trillion was assured. The latter deal is 100% opposed by Republicans. So, all the legislation was held up and funding for new infrastructure and associated jobs are in limbo.

Where is the leadership? Where is the negotiating skill that Joe Biden supposedly has? Does anyone care about the potential damage that a $4 trillion entitlement will have on our national debt and our economy? Liberals don’t care about anything other than giving away money with no quid pro quos other than a promise to vote a certain way.

Someone should give our pols an Economy 101 lesson about the evils of inflation and high interest rates.