The Boston Rugby Football Club play hard and rugged. They don’t get paid, but they compete in the full-contact sport, often paying out of their own pockets for travel when funding runs out. They came in third among 12 teams at last year’s USA Rugby Super League championships. They diverse group are locals and foreigners and work as teachers or web designers. They represent the true competitive spirit of an amateur sport, also at its toughest.
“I’d say a common mis-perception is that everyone always thinks it’s football without pads. It’s a lot different. Every man on the field has a chance to get the ball. Every man has a vital role in both offense and defense,” says Brendan Ridge, a five-time captain.
“We’re really a blue-collar team. Bringing that physicality above and beyond the other team has really been a key to success for us,” says Purpura. Tony Purpura continues to practice despite re-opening a cut on his head.
The Boston Rugby Club plays a scrimmage with the Middlesex Barbarians at Madison Park High School in Roxbury, MA.
“It takes a lot of dedication,” says Vota. “Nobody’s getting paid to be there.” Club members will often pay their own way when sponsorship money runs out. Duran Vota gets a massage from physical therapist Melissa Buffer-Trenouth before the Boston Rugby Club plays the Dallas Harlequins Rugby Football Club at Oliver Ames High School in Easton, MA.
Tony Purpura, left, and Will Haydock, prepare for the game.
The Boston Rugby Club practices in the last moments before the game at sundown.
“Guys, keep your heads up. Whatever happens, we’re playing for each other. We’re going to win this thing ‚Äì together,” says captain, Derrick Isoka Wavomba. Teammates jump in a circle before the game to get pumped up. The Boston Rugby Club plays the Dallas Harlequins Rugby Football Club at Oliver Ames High School in Easton, MA.
Players from both teams struggle for possession of the ball during the game. The Boston Rugby Club plays the Dallas Harlequins Rugby Football Club at Oliver Ames High School in Easton, MA.
Brendan Ridge, a five-time captain of past teams plays hard during the game. Ridge, at 35, has considered retiring this year. The only thing keeping him in the game is the prospect of a title.
Exhausted players from both sides embrace and shake hands after a physical game, resulting in a tie 16-16.
Team captain Derrick Isoka Wavomba looks sullenly on after a the tie game with the Harlequins. Boston would end a disappointing season at 1-5-1.
“Rugby has a great concept of brotherhood…I may have punched someone in a game or something along those lines…afterwards, you kind of let bygones be bygones. We go to our sponsor bar and we have our beer sponsors bring in some beer and we have a pint with the other team. To us it’s normal. To someone who this is foreign to – they find it crazy,” says Ridge. After the game, the Boston Rugby Club shares beers with the Dallas Harlequins Rugby Football Club at the Southside Tavern in Quincy, MA on Saturday, April 14, 2012.