Black Watch buoyed by first test match

Dave
Dave Mathieson
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AMHERST - Rugby is played throughout the Maritimes and throughout the world but has never really taken hold in Amherst. Blair Langille hopes to change that trend.
Langille formed the Cumberland County Black Watch RFC this summer and they recently played their first test match and beat Mount Allison's B team by a score of 22-12 at the Church Street field.
They hope to build upon that success when they meet again on Saturday at noon on the same field.
The Black Watch has been meeting and practising since the beginning of June, and Langille is impressed with how much the players have progressed.
"We have some very good athletes in Amherst and some very big boys," said Langille. "So I'm not surprised we did as well as we did against Mount Allison."
Langille said the sport requires different-sized athletes for different positions.
"There's a position for a guy who's five-foot-eight and 150 pounds and a position for a guy who's six-foot-five and 240 pounds," said Langille. "You have the guys in the scrum, they're the beef up front. Then there's guys like me who are fast, they're in the back."
Langille said lack of experience should not discourage a person from giving the game a try.
"Some of the guys had one or two games under their belt before we played Mount Allison," said Langille. "It was only myself and one other guy who had played any substantial amount of rugby.
"Basically, if you like the idea of grabbing a ball and running with it as hard as you can, then this sport is for you."
He said the game requires the same skill set as any other team sport.
"It's vision, it's communication, it's picking lines to run and it's passing," said Langille. "You're trying to create mismatches, you're trying to create two-on-ones and two-on-threes, and you're trying to draw defenders to yourself so the talented players have room to move."
The game might look complicated to the uninitiated, but Langille said it's pretty basic.
"The fundamentals are you can't pass the ball forward and you can't knock it on, which means you can't fumble it forward."
Langille said Rugby is popular in other parts of Nova Scotia.
"The Truro Sevens is a 25-year old international tournament and it's only an hour away," said Langille. "You have several tournaments in Halifax and the game is played at high schools throughout the province. Pictou County has a strong high school program."
Langille would love to see Cumberland County high schools adopt the game.
"You have a built-in league here," said Langille. "You have Amherst, Oxford, Pugwash, River Hebert, and Parrsboro."
Langille grew up in Amherst and played football in Sackville, N.B., but his parents sent him to boarding school at King's-Edgehill in Windsor, and that's where he began playing rugby.
"It's one of those sports where you can have a school of 200 students and they can compete against a school with 1,000 students," said Langille. "With me it was Cole Harbour against King's Edgehill, one of the largest schools against one of the smallest."
Since then he has played the game in Montreal, Alberta, California and New York City. He came back to Amherst for family reasons and would love to see a tradition of rugby grow in Cumberland County.
"They call rugby a hooligans game played by gentlemen, whereas soccer is called a gentleman's game played by hooligans," said Langille. "It's very community oriented. There's a strong social aspect to it.
"You'll go out and play an 80-minute game and beat the hell out of each other, and then go to the pub and share a couple of beers afterward."
Anybody interested in helping bring the tradition to life in Cumberland County can contact Langille at 669-2612 or e-mail amherstrfc@ gmail.com.

dmathieson@amherstdaily.com

Organizations: Cumberland County Black Watch RFC

Geographic location: AMHERST, California, Church Street Cumberland County Nova Scotia Halifax Pictou County Oxford Pugwash River Hebert Parrsboro Sackville Windsor Montreal Alberta New York City

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