NYPD's Finest Prevail in the 2023 Hometown Heroes Rugby Match vs the FDNY's Bravest
by Detective Jonathan Bulzomi (Fly Half/Wing - NYPD)
This past weekend, several of the New York Metro area’s first responder sports teams faced off against each other with a Saturday contest between the FDNY Bravest and the TriState Shields Football teams competing in New Rochelle, and Sunday pitting the NYPD Finest Rugby team against the FDNY Bravest Rugby team at the new Memorial Stadium in Mount Vernon. Both were well-matched highly competitive games with Saturday’s football contest being settled in overtime with the FDNY coming out on top and Sunday's match going down to the final minutes with the NYPD squad taking home the victory by a score of 26 to 22.
The annual NYPD-FDNY Hometown Heroes Rugby match is a charity match first and foremost. We play and raise money for a different charity each year and pay tribute to fallen officers/firefighters and their families each year as well. This year's match was a hard fought grudge match as usual with the FDNY. They are a great team and we are usually very evenly matched with them.
It was a nailbiter down to the very end with FDNY trying to retake the lead with only 2 minutes left to play and us being a man down due to a yellow card penalty. They were on our doorstep but our defense proved to be stout enough to hold them off for the win. We had extraordinary play by our own Detective Pat Daly (Hooker), who's conversions proved to be vital in our victory as well as grounding a try of his own. Other stand outs were our man of the match and team captain Detective Louis Ducceshi (Scrum Half), Police Officer Matthew Morris (Inside Center), and Police Officer Josh Elsasser (Fullback). We also owe A LOT to our Coach Bruce McLane. Without him and his knowledge, none of this would be possible.
This match is usually equivalent to our "Super Bowl" and means a lot to everybody playing. I'm sure the FDNY guys would feel the same. We do it for the charity and also for the love of the game. Rugby is an amazing sport that is still growing in the US and we don't get as much attention as say, the hockey team or the football team, but we are trying to grow the game like everybody else who has "discovered" it here. We are also very fortunate to have professional organizations like The Rugby New York Ironworkers support us and host this match the past couple of years. We hope to one day be as popular and well revered as the other first responder sports teams, and with organizations like this to support us, it may very well be in our near future.