Park City Haggis rugby takes care of business
Rugby has been a Fourth of July staple in Park City since the 1970s and this weekend was no different.
Following an Old Boys game at 11 a.m., featuring rugby players 35 and older, Park City Haggis took the field for a pair of contests.
Starting off against Mana, a team from Salt Lake City, Haggis earned a narrow 38-35 victory. In the ensuing match against Rexburg, a squad from Idaho, Park City again held on for a narrow win — this time by a margin of 35-30.
Though it’s always nice to win, Haggis player Travis Walzer said the games on the Fourth of July are more about the love of the sport.
"These games that we have here are all for fun," he said. "It’s not like a tournament. We knew a lot of the guys on the Mana team and some of the guys on the Idaho team."
That, however, didn’t mean the games weren’t physical and challenging, Walzer added.
"Everyone wanted to win," he said. "It was very competitive."
All three teams had enough players to field a normal 15-on-15 rugby game. Walzer said the July 4 games at City Park featured players who don’t normally suit up for league play.
"They didn’t have to be certified with USA [Rugby] or whatever," he said. "We didn’t have everyone [from the normal roster] show up, but we were able to have a good-sized team. The games were for fun and that’s what the Fourth of July has always been about."
The Fourth of July is also about playing in front of a big crowd, one of the biggest crowds Haggis sees all year.
"It’s a lot better than playing with no crowd," Walzer laughed. "It definitely makes me and other people a little more focused and aware. You play a little better, I think."
Walzer said he and his teammates also enjoyed watching the Old Boys game, featuring some old Park City Muckers players and some former Salt Lake Haggis players. (The two teams merged to form Park City Haggis several years ago.)
"They had like 10-on-10," Walzer said. "It’s a much slower pace, but they had a great time."
Walzer said Park City enjoyed getting a couple practice games in on their home field. On Aug. 8, Haggis will host the Ski Town Tournament, a big deal for the squad. He said he can’t remember the last time Park City hosted the tournament.
"We’re super excited to have it in Park City," he said. "We’ve done what we’ve had to do to get it back here."
The Ski Town Tournament will be a busy day for all squads involved, Walzer added.
"There are about 15-16 teams," he said. "All the games are played on the same day. There will be four divisions of about four teams. If you win all those division games, you go into the next round and go from there."
Haggis intends to use home-field advantage to claim the title, Walzer said. The team is gearing up to make some noise on Aug. 8.
"We practice every Tuesday and Thursday at Sugar House Park at 5:30 and on Saturday mornings," he said. "I think everyone is going to show up [for the Ski Town Tournament]. We’re pretty serious about it."
Park City Mountain Resort is scheduled to start limited summer operations on Saturday, including the operation of PayDay lift for hikers and bikers.