Lets be honest, Havana is not known for it’s rugby so it was something of a surprise to see rugby posts erected and some pretty formidable looking men (and woman) limbering up last weekend at the Eduardo Saborit Stadium in Havana’s leafy Western suburb of Siboney. Interest piqued I thought that that was a good a chance as any to introduce my kids to the joys of the running game.
The IRB-sanctioned Havana Howlers 7’s Rugby Tournament is jointly organized by the Cuban Rugby Federation and the Dog River Howlers Rugby Club based out of Canada. The idea of the tournament is to help promote and develop rugby in Cuba along with creating new relationships/bonds between the participating teams. This was the second full tournament with a complete woman’s division in addition to the men’s program.
Twelve teams from seven countries spent two days scrimmaging, tackling, running under a benevolently gentle Caribbean sun. Undoubtedly, on the woman’s side there was no-one to set a torch to The Dog River Howlers who beat the Cuban National Women’s team 29-0 in the final. On the men’s side the two teams from Trinidad and Tobago Rainbow SCC and T&T Enthusiast Rugby Football Club (TTERFC) were both formidable playing each other in a tightly fought semi-final which TTERFC won 10-5. The final saw TTERFC defeat the The Dog River Howlers men’s team and defending champions 41-5.
And the Cuban teams, undoubtedly full of talent, elegant and graceful, simply got outplayed. You do go away thinking though that if Cuba ever really takes up rugby they will be a force to be reckoned with! Hats off to the wonderful The Dog River Howlers for making this tournament happen and brining such a brilliant spirit and life to this unheralded game in Cuba.
The Dog River Howlers
The Dog River Howlers are an invitational rugby club founded by Karl Fix in early 2007 for the lovers of “our game.” The club is based in Dog River, Saskatchewan, Canada. The Howlers are made up of players and supporters from all parts of Canada, as well as a few from other countries, who believe that “rugby is more than a game, but a way of life.” The club tours to interesting parts of the world, plays rugby and enjoys unique cultural experiences, while also giving something back to that country’s sport and/or people. The Howlers also raise funds and contribute to worthwhile endeavors, which are not related to rugby. The Howlers use “our game” as a vehicle to build bridges between people around the world.