WHEN Cuba’s provincial champion rugby team Havana scored a try against Warringah on the weekend, they celebrated like they had won the World Cup.
And while it made the final score 48-5 in the Rats’ favour, the result was meaningless next to the good achieved by the Shute Shield team’s visit to the land of Fidel Castro.
Rats first grade centre and Collaroy junior Ed Doyle, who scored three tries, knew he had been part of something special.
“I loved it. Coming over here and playing with your good mates is a lot of fun,” Doyle said.
“And you have that rogue atmosphere of people right on the sideline and concrete cinderblocks in the pitch.
“Playing Shute Shield week in, week out can sometimes be a bit stressful and this was something different.
“It reminds you why you play footy and it makes you respect what we have at home as well.”
One thing Australian rugby has that its Cuban counterparts don’t just yet is goalposts. In the moments before kickoff, the Havana players were using electrical wire to secure rugby uprights to the normal football goals on the field in Cuba’s capital.
And while the crowd was sparse to start with, as soon as the two teams started going at it, inquisitive locals wandered over to watch the Australian visitors’ skills.
And they got to see plenty of action because the timekeeper discovered near the end of the first half that his stopwatch was not working.
The game was halted while the timekeeper held a hasty on-field conference with the referee, who at first said there was 15 minutes to go before revising that to seven.
The locals were delighted when the Warringah players handed out their gear after the game. As part of their tour, Warringah have taken more than 900kg of equipment to distribute to communities around Havana.