Coventry rugby club continues growth in fourth year
COVENTRY — The Coventry boys rugby team finished 3-7 this year, but head coach Randy Humbert said it was the team’s last loss that will linger in their memories.
“We pushed the No. 1 one seed, Hudson, in the second round of the playoffs to a game that was decided in the last 30 seconds,” he said. “Unfortunately, we lost, but the Hudson game was noteworthy as we were a serious underdog — a No. 1 seed vs. a No. 7 seed.”
According to Humbert, this year’s team featured a nice combination of youth and experience, with the senior leaders playing especially well.
“The strength of this year’s team was our mix of size, speed and knowledgeable upperclassmen,” he said. “We had a group of 10 seniors: Austin Humbert, Austin Hastings, Tim Jackson, Donald Allen, Ben Ford, Brandon Starcher, Andy Ethington, J.W. Heath-Bell, David Barrio, Jacob Marquez. All are great kids and we’ll really miss them next year.”
Five of those players — Jackson, Allen, Ford, Hastings and Humbert — finished their careers as four-year players, the coach said.
The team’s captain this season was Austin Humbert, the coach’s son.
“The captain does all the talking to the referee, as it is not allowed from the other players,” the coach said. “The captain makes all decisions on the field pertaining to the game. He is a player-coach, if you will.”
This year’s team “really improved as the season wore on,” the coach said.
“We only lost by more than seven once and several games went down to the last seconds,” he stated. “We had to learn during games due to the number of working seniors we had. We rarely had everyone together for practice, but I told them to keep playing and we would make a run at the end, and that’s what happened.”
Coach Humbert said he hopes to see his returning players work on “fitness levels” during the off-season.
“A 60-minute running clock game requires tremendous fitness,” he stated. “And next year, we will be young and lose several key players, so I think being competitive will be a good place to start. We want to be the team other teams hate to play. They will need to bring their ‘A-game’ or they will get beat.”
The Coventry boys rugby team began in 2009 and Humbert — who is assisted by Mark Burnett, Tom Juszli and Tom Yeager — has been the coach since its inception.
“I started the team so my son would be playing a sport in the spring,” he said. “We are a strong young program and we are drawing fans out to the games. Even though we are a club sport, we play at Coventry stadium and the Coventry school system has been very supportive.”
Humbert said his team is always on the lookout for more players.
“[Rugby] is fast and challenging. Everyone carries the ball, passes the ball and scores. What’s not to like? Beyond that, there is camaraderie amongst ‘ruggers’ that you can’t find in other sports. It is a club that forms a team,” Humbert said. “Once you play, you will have friends around the world, because that bond is carried around the world by the No. 1 tackle sport in the world.”
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