WILTON - Men and women of all ages gathered on July 15 for an all-day rugby tournament hosted by Saratoga Rugby Club (SRC) in Gavin Park. This tournament was a qualifier event for the national series. Teams from as far as Barbados and as close as Saratoga took part in the event.
Gavin Park was an excellent venue with the large open fields perfectly accommodating for the several matches happening at once. Spectators moved from field to field to take in all of the action involving several different teams. Between 9 a.m. - 5 p.m., there were approximately 90 matches on four different fields. Wilton was chosen to host this year because it is equal distance from New York City and Boston. Eric Huss is the original creator of the event and this time he handed the reigns over to his board of directors. Even though they were crunched for time this year, the club still managed to host approximately 40 teams equaling 500 players. Stephen Aguglia, Vice President of SRC, was proud of the event and stated that for the amount of people they had present and the short amount of coordination time they were working with, the tournament was only behind by a few minutes between different matches.
“We coordinated with two different leagues and the town of Wilton along with many volunteers. We knew that there would be a lot of potential pit-falls that we were anxious about but we managed to pull it off and the feedback we’ve received has been positive,” Aguglia noted.
Rugby, being the physical sport that it is, had already caused a few injuries just an hour after the tournament began. By 11 a.m. the EMT’s reported there had already been one broken nose and several scrapes and bruises. Coaches and EMT’s alike kept reminding the players to stay hydrated. Luckily, no ambulances were called.
“Small injuries and dehydration are the norm,” an EMT clarified.
Jamie Everett, a local graduate from St. Lawrence University, has played on the White Plains Team for five years. Everett commented on how his team “had a tough start,” but that they were happy to see how open the fields were, having plenty of room to move around and warm up before each match.
“This is a tourist destination for a lot of reasons,” Aguglia continued, “Saratoga is a great place to visit in the summer time and we are looking to partner with local businesses in the community moving forward into next year. The potential is there to create something even bigger now that we have more time on our side.”
The Barbados team has their own invitational that has packages in place for participants with the team’s local businesses and airlines to create a smooth journey. The Saratoga Rugby Club would like to expand their tournament in a similar way and reach out to Montreal and Ottawa teams. On the women’s side, New York Rugby Club, from NYC, took first place and Old Blue Women, also from NYC, took second. In the men’s bracket Old Blue, NYC, took first place and The Bulldogs from Connecticut, took second. All four teams will be moving forward to nationals.
Regardless of the overall division outcomes, the diversity on the field made for an entertaining tournament to watch. From the different coaching styles to the different playing techniques, the Saratoga Sevens Rugby Tournament was not an event to be missed.
All photos by www.photoandgraphic.com.