By Ed Carr, assistant coach, West Hartford Black Hearts Rugby
The West Hartford Black Hearts U 19 Rugby Club played their final game of the 2012 season on Tuesday, June 5 at Sterling Field.
This was the Black Hearts' only home game in this, their inaugural season and the spectators numbered over 150. The supporters included parents and siblings of both West Hartford and Simsbury players, interested onlookers and former members of the West Hartford Yahoos – a Men's Club that played in West Hartford in the 70s and 80s.
In fact the coaching staff of the Black Hearts are former Yahoos, as is one of the coaches of the Simsbury side – so it was homecoming for many on this night!
The West Hartford Black Hearts ended the season with a 39 to 17 win over Simsbury B's, giving them a .500 record of 3-3-1.
Three 25 minute periods were agreed to in this re-match of West Hartford's first game of the season against Simsbury. While Simsbury traveled with 15 players, all were seasoned with solid rugby background under their belts. West Hartford had a total of 21 players available for the night – an indication of how this program has blossomed.
Both teams put on a display of hard running, forward focused rugby. When the ball found itself out in the backs the intent on getting to the gain line was evident. The play shifted back and forth through rucks and mauls between both halves of the field with long runs through the middle being broken off by both teams.
West Hartford forwards seem to have the better day versus their counterparts stealing many set scrums and rucking well enough to set up 3rd and 4th phase. The Simsbury backs, especially their shifty scrum half, had a good day and played the West Hartford Back Line fairly even.
It would be hard to single out any one player for West Hartford on this night – everyone contributed! Standout play came from every Black Heart who stepped on the pitch. The scoring came from Alec Stott with 3 tries, Jason Gilbert with 2 tries, and Ethan Cannon and Jared Gordon with 1 try a piece. Nick Floyd was 2 of 4 from conversion attempts.
The scoring was only one part of the play this evening however. The West Hartford side gelled in their final game.
As head coach Norbert Deslauriers said, "The hard work at practice this entire season has paid off in the last 3 weeks. This is not an easy game to pick up immediately – you don’t grow up playing rugby around here! These young men have worked hard at learning this game. We look forward to seeing more interested players come out next season where we hope to be able to field two sides on a weekly basis."
Post game dogs and burgers along with a table full of desserts was put out by the West Hartford parents and both players and coaches sat and ate with each other afterwards – a traditional aspect of rugby around the world.
Rugby has come full circle in West Hartford. There have been many great rugby memories established at Sterling Field from back in the day – West Hartford Yahoos home pitch, home of the West Hartford Sevens Tournament for many years, even the National Sevens Tournament was played at Sterling Field in its infancy. There have been many great rugby players who have stepped on Sterling Field to play the game, including USA Eagles.
Rugby born here in West Hartford has spread throughout the country and the world through rugby tours, through ex-Yahoos continuing to play the game, through former players handing the game on to their children. The West Hartford Black Hearts look to start a new tradition of rugby in West Hartford.
Tuesday's game was a great step forward in establishing that tradition.