For the sports-starved, we’ve seen soccer (The English Game), football (Greater), hockey (Indian Horse), and now we turn to rugby. What first attracted me to The Nomads is the real name of the fastest kid on the team, Banner. How could an expatriate Tiger resist a moniker like Vladimir Versailles? Add the real-life story of the North Philly Nomads (The Philadelphia Inquirer) plus an opportunity to learn some basics of rugby, and we’re all in. For the uninitiated, you also get a chance to see the New York Yankees of rugby, i.e., the New Zealand All-Blacks, perform the challenge of the haka. Moreover, what is most important, The Nomads teaches us the rules of life. I give the movie 3.5 Gavels and it receives an 8.3/10 IMDb score.
In 2013, facing a $1.35 billion deficit, Philadelphia closed 23 schools. English teacher, Cassey McNamara, can keep her job if she transfers to to Whitman High School and teaches history. Despite searches to enter the building, fights in the hallway, overcrowded classes, and disinterested students, she meets a kindred rugby spirit in Mark Nolin. To give the kids an outlet for their pent-up energy, the two convince the principal that a zero-equipment game is just the answer. The fun, the headaches, and the heartbreaks are about to begin.
From The Old Man & the Gun to Sonic the Hedgehog, you will recognize Coach McNamara as Tika Sumpter. Together with Tate Donovan (Argo, Rocketman) as Mark Nolin, they make quite the infectious pair, able to sell ice to the eskimos or, rather rugby to the inner-city.
“Moving the scrum from the hallways to the fields” is a pretty good slogan for The Nomads. It turns out the fields are not so pristine. Sadly, these boys had to pick up lots of trash before they could begin to learn the game. In the most desperate of times, Nolin reminds McNamara that her father “would never let him quit. There’s always another kid who needs help!” Most inspirational is the boys telling the adults “that for the first time, I can see the possibilities.” At the end, Coach Mac says, “I need you guys right now, I need my team.” To a man, they are all there for her. At that point, the rules of rugby merge into the rules of life, and a nice heart-warming flick.