Marines, sailors, airmen and civilians gathered in Kapiolani Park to compete against one another to assess their skills in a rugby match, May 25.
Team Red comprised of past and present Marines as well as players from the local Hawaii Harlequins. They faced off against team Blue, which comprised of all Navy and Air Force service members.
The scrimmage was the first time playing rugby for most of the service members. The experienced Harlequin players, who won the state championship in rugby, April 13, 2013, were invited to join the service members during their scrimmage.
“Today is all about getting a gauge to see how far these guys can go,” said Joshua Stone, the coach and captain of team Red. “These scrimmages are kind of like tryouts. We’re trying to find out which guys mesh and work well together.”
To most people, rugby is a football game played without pads. But unlike football, rugby is almost a continuous game played in four 15-minute quarters.
In a rugby match there are no set positions. During the game, a player could be on the offensive by running with the ball, but as soon as he is tackled he must surrender the ball and begin playing defense. Any player with the ball who clears the opponent’s end zone scores five points.
“Players step on the field and realize quickly they’re not made of steel,” said David Delozier, the coach and captain of team Blue. “If you have the ball, everyone is after you, and you just have to buckle down and take the hit.”
Taking the field, Red and Blue lined up facing each other. Blue kicked off the ball to start the game, and some of the new players were confused at first as to what they needed to do to help their team.
“I didn’t know what I was supposed to do or what position to play,” said Reilly Mealer, a team Blue player. “But after the first quarter I picked up the swing of things pretty easily.”
Team Red battled through hit after hit, passing the ball off to teammates and eventually opened the scoring. Neither team kept official score during the scrimmage. Instead, they focused on helping new players understand the fundamentals and basics of the game.
“I was surprised at the level of camaraderie shared between both teams,” said Mike Steves, a team Blue player. “We’re just privileged to be out here playing with these guys and having fun.”
Another service member and team Red player, Ronny Movete, commented, “I’ve been playing rugby since I was a child, so I know a thing or two. It’s great that some of the players from the Harlequins are out here today. They’re a good group of guys to play with.”
The armed forces are planning to participate in their first tournament, July 4, 2013, where they will compete as official teams. They plan to hold a color guard ceremony at the opening of the tournament, and have different activities for kids to enjoy during the event.
“We want this to be more than just a couple competitive games,” Stone said. “Our goal is to bring families out and show them what rugby is about, but also give them their own activities to enjoy.”
For anyone interested in finding out more about the armed services tournament, more information can be found by visiting the Hawaii Marine Rugby Facebook page.