It took Justin Boyd 18 months to get back on the rugby field after tearing all his knee ligaments in 2009, but, really, it took him even longer than that.
Back on the USA 7s team in February, Boyd still struggled at times. It wasn’t until a full six months later, with Belmont Shore this past weekend, that Boyd really looked as powerful a player as he was in early 2009.
“People told me I’d never play again, and I wanted to prove them wrong,” said the still-young Texan. “But it was a lot of hard work. When I came back I really wanted to concentrate on my defense because that was something I had needed to work on before. But it took a while to get that extra step back and that confidence.”
That confidence was in evidence early on in the national 7s final, when Boyd stepped in to intercept a pass and kept on going despite a tenacious tackler holding onto his jersey. At one point, the wing spun around looking for support, of which there was none, and then realized he could charge ahead anyway and score.
That try made it 12-0 Belmont Shore. Moments later, with the score 12-7 Boyd took a Shalom Suniula pass and just went for it. Two Schuylkill River defenders grabbed him, but the wing kept churning his legs and went in at the corner before rounding under the posts.
It was a bigger, stronger, and, yes, more confident Justin Boyd who helped Belmont Shore to a title Sunday.
“I feel that I played the best I played in a while,” he said. “I have put on about 30 pounds and have been training a lot.”
Boyd has a standing appointment at Athlete’s Performance at 5:30 am. The difference in his appearance is marked, and his strength has allowed him to thunder through tackles where before he would have had to pull up.
But that also is because he’s feeling better about his knee, and happy at Belmont Shore.
“I started to feel more confident and the atmosphere I have been in has allowed me to do that,” he said. “The extra weight and extra muscle has helped a lot, but so has being on this team. It’s been great, what James [Walker] and Matt [Hawkins] have done. The best thing for us was we had more time together, and were able to play better as a result. And for me just more time playing has allowed me to keep working on coming back.”