Participating American men's teams Atlantis (top) and Santa Monica (bottom)
The Dog River Howlers won the Havana Howlers 7s, both men and women, this past weekend.
The first ever sanctioned international 7s tournament in Cuba, the Howlers 7s also featured the first ever games by the Cuban women’s team.
The Atlantis 7s program from the USA entered a men’s and women’s team. The women’s program played with eight players for most of the tournament, as one player arrived injured and another was hurt seconds into their opening match.
Meanwhile American club Santa Monica made the final in the men’s bracket.
Still, Atlantis women battled well and reached the final. The Atlantis men finished 6th.
The event took place over Saturday and Sunday at Eduardo Saberio Stadium in Havana.
The women’s final was won by the Fox River Howlers 14-12 over Atlantis on a last-minute try and conversion.
The men’s playoffs was of a high standard, series of games of exciting rugby. Howlers won the cup by defeating Santa Monica 26-7 in the final. Germany’s Hanover Sevens beat Mexico 19 -12 in the plate final, and the Cuba National A team won the bowl 19-0 against an Atlantis reduced to six by injury. Trinidad Tobago Enthusiasts beat ISS 26-0 in the Shield final.
Fox River was also slammed with injuries and ended the tournament with just seven players. They were a strong seven, though, beating Atlantis 31-0 in the quarterfinals, Mexico 26-12 in the semis, and Santa Monica in the final.
Santa Monica beat Hanover 21-0 in the semis.
Fox River’s Michelle Helmeczi was the women’s MVP and Patrick Parfrey the men’s MVP.
While in Havana the Howlers also visited the local orphanage that they have been supporting since their first tour to Cuba in 2007. Besides bags of clothes, clothes and school supplies we also handed over $700 (keep in mind that the average monthly wage in Cuba is $20) to the orphanage's director which will be used to support these 14 beautiful children ranging from ages 4 to 8. The money we gave them last year they used to paint their buildings.
Canada Dog River Howlers: A group of 30 people lead by Karl Fix from Regina and comprised of 30 people from across Canada. 9 women players, 11 men player and 10 supporters. The men’s team were from across Canada from Victoria to New Foundland. They suffered 4 injuries and won all their Saturday games with only 7 players “The Magnificent 7”. Fred Forster appeared as a guest player.
USA Atlantis: A men’s team with players from across the USA. Coached and managed by Emil Signes, David McPhail of Texas Rugby union and Ray Cornbill. Team includes 2 former Eagles an over 50 and a teenager.
USA Santa Monica: A group of 16 organized by Dr. Jerry Banks. Players from around the US included 2 Irish, an over 40 and an over 50.
Germany Hanover Sevens: A North German select side of excellent athletes, managed by Achim Behring. The team plays in the Amsterdam Sevens and will host the Sevens World Cup qualifying rounds in Hanover in 2012, with 35,000 spectators expected.
Mexico National under 22s (Las Serpientee): The team which focuses on Sevens is coached by Simon Pierre, a New Zealander living in Mexico and organized by Miguel Carner, director of NACRA (North American Caribbean Rugby association). A group of 13 people including 10 players. Team plays all year and will compete with USA and Canada for a spot in the Sevens World cup in 2013.
Trinidad & Tobago Enthusiasts: Managed by Kevin Edwards. A group of 21 people including 12 players aged about 21 and accompanied by Irish Consul Brian O’ Farrell.
ISS (International Sports School) Havana: Managed by Lester Frias. 12 players aged from 20 -25 from Argentina, Fiji, South Africa, Chile, Columbia and Uruguay.
Cuba National Team A: Coached by Lenoid Bard. 12 players representing several Cuban provinces, aged from 21 to 29. Average 4 years rugby experience.
Cuba B: Coached by Jorge Prieto
Cuba C: Coached by Pablo, a fill in team due to the withdrawal on Venezuela.
Atlantis Women’s Team: Captained by Lindsey Stephenson. The team includes some junior Eagles and Ivy League players.
Cuba Women’s Team: Captained by Ismavy Torrienje Camejo. The team has 12 players and started rugby in May 2011. The tournament was their first game.
Dog River Howlers Women’s Team: Captained by Maria Jaworski. The team had 9 players from across Canada. They played in the Calgary Sevens in July and in the Cancun Sevens the week before.
The Men behind the Havana Howlers Sevens
Karl Fix: A successful Canadian builder, resident in Regina. Karl is a super organizer who has visited Cuba several times. He also organized the Havana Sevens in 2010. Karl got the IRB to sanction the Tournament and arranged the teams, schedules, prizes and finances. He has been a benefactor to Cuban rugby for years and with help from Eddie Evans, a former Canadian International who owns Xtreme Sports in Bangkok, Eddie has provided equipment and sportswear for Cuban rugby.
Chukin Chao: A 40 year old resident of Cuba. Chukin spent part of his career as a government attorney and later became manager of a French Company in Havana. Chukin made the arrangements for playing fields and permits from the Cuban government agency INDER. He is a man of many talents who “knows his way around city hall”.
Emil Singes: A US born person of Cuban parentage. Emil has been bringing US rugby teams to play in Cuba for a number of years. He has liaised with the US treasury department on the issuing of licenses required by US citizens to visit Cuba. Emil was coach of the US National Sevens team for several years.
Giovanna Borsarelli, of Island Universal Tour in Havana, did a superb job in organizing airport transfers, internal travel and hotel accommodations.