No, really, Pittsburgh Harlequins? Did anyone have the Pittsburgh Harlequins on their radar? No, really, no one outside of Pittsburgh did.
But the Harlequins finished second in the Mid-Atlantic, and while some might crow that the Mid-Atlantic isn’t as strong as it has been, it’s unwise to dismiss the Harlequins simply because they aren’t well-known.
Coach Steven Hunt thinks his squad can surprise people. They’ve already done so.
“Over the last few years we played in MARFU got our butts kicked, but we were learning,” Hunt told RUGBYMag.com. “I thought this year we might be a middle of the pack team. But we just kept getting better. We have a lot of speed and a lot of talent, and we’re young.”
The average age of the Harlequins 7s team is 21.5, and Hunt has brought in players from college teams such as Pitt, Carnegie-Mellon, and Frostburg – not highly-ranked programs, but the players are enthusiastic.
“They play as a team,” said Hunt, who might look to Nick Koon as one of the leaders – Koon scored the best at the fitness tests in the Mid-Atlantic all-star team tryout and combine. Justin Heinle from California University (Pa.) and scrumhalf Mike Wilk has been a big leader for them. But in the end, it’s a squad-wide effort.
“We are 12 deep. We put in any player and he can pull it out,” said Hunt. “We are the youngest team, no doubt, but we are fast and we are fit.”
Hunt also points to his team’s two matches against MARFU champs Schuylkill River.
“In our first game we lost by a pretty big margin, and then in this last final, it was 21-14,” said Hunt, referring to a territorial final where Pittsburgh finished much the stronger in very hot weather. “We are learning and getting better all the time.”