They came to enjoy the game they love, and to raise a bit of money for a good cause, too.
On a beaming Saturday in Enfield, N.S., the Nova Scotia provincial women's senior rugby team squared off in an exhibition match with a team from P.E.I., while the Nova Scotia provincial men's senior team took on the New Brunswick Spruce in the opener of the Eastern Canadian Rugby Super League, a new senior men's super league that also includes teams from Ontario, Newfoundland and Labrador and Montreal.
More than 100 people gathered along the sidelines to take in the action, which also included programming for young players.
Mark Sweeney, president of the Enfield Rugby Club, said the game has grown in popularity in the community. What started 12 years ago as a spinoff from the program at the Hants East Rural High school now includes two senior men's teams, a senior women's team and a mini rugby program for young people.
"We decided we wanted everybody to come back and play here in the community and we've had a lot of support from local businesses and local families that come out and watch us on a Saturday like they are today," said Sweeney.
Saturday's event also included a moment of silence for Brodie McCarthy, the 18-year-old P.E.I. man who died last weekend after sustaining a head injury during a school rugby match. There was nothing unusual about the play that caused McCarthy to leave the game before collapsing on the sideline.
Money raised for scholarship fund
As a way to recognize McCarthy, the Enfield club held a 50/50 draw and raised $422 for a scholarship fund that's been set up in McCarthy's name. Sweeney said it was important for the club to do something for McCarthy's family and community.
"The rugby community is a very small and very tight knit community and I think everyone is feeling that loss and feeling the pain at the moment, so we just thought we'd do the little bit that we could to help out," said Sweeney.
Because the rugby community in the Maritimes is a small one, it's easy to understand the effect McCarthy's death would have on people, said Sweeney, but he also thinks it's important for people to continue enjoying the game.
"It's a good way for people to kind of cope and to make sure that they're able to check in on each other and to kind of stand beside each other in a moment like that," he said.