Rugby Co-Captain Runs, Tackles, and Never Says Die
If breaking your foot three times, tearing a tendon in your shoulder, or having calcium deposits in your leg doesn't stop you, not much will. "I always feel good enough to play by the weekend," says Al Halliday the co-captain of the Harvard rugby team, who has endured all these inconveniences and more in his four years of Harvard rugby.
The Eliot House senior has been playing rugby for nine years now, but he still comes out with the same enthusiam every Saturday afternoon during the spring and fall.
It was back in high school in his hometown of Toronto that Halliday played his first game, and he's been playing the same position--second row--ever since. He fits the mold of a second-row rugger well--the biggest player on the Crimson side at 6'5," 235, he has the strength to provide the majority of the push at the center of the Harvard pack, while he also has the height to jump and catch the line outs.
"Al is a great second row. He is really strong and he can always be counted on to move his side of the pack," says Tom Sikorski, the second row on the other side of the Crimson pack.
Yet when he first came to Harvard, Halliday did not run straight to the rugby field behind the stadium. First he tried freshman football, and then crew, before joining his favorite sport.
Explaining his love for the game, Halliday says. "Rugby is such a great team sport because everyone gets to do everything. All 15 men can run with the ball and tackle, and they're in it for the camaraderie and competition, not recognition."
The captain and the teammates have been getting more and more recognition lately. After being the last seed in both the Eastern and the Nationals, the team made it to the national finals, where they suffered their only loss of the season in overtime.
"That had to be the biggest and most exciting sporting event of my life," says Halliday.
Since that surprising showing, the team has been receiving invitations to tournaments all over the world. But right now, they're more concerned with this season. The team lost its first game of the season to UMass his past weekend in a very close final at the New England Championships.
"It would be fantastic to be looking at an undefeated season. Halliday says, "but it ought to give us a shot of adrenalin for the Eastern."
One of 11 seniors out of the starting 15 ruggers, Halliday wants to go to New York when he graduates, where he hopes to continue writing music who playing piano and guitar in bars there.
"It's been a pipe dream ever since I was 12 years old. Ten years from now, I'm afraid it would be something I'd regret never having done. "he says.
Is he going to give up the sport? "No way." exclaims Halliday. "There are some good rugby clubs around New York and I'm going to join them and play."