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DC Old Glory Celebrates Youth Rugby In Curtain-Raisers

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HS Girls

DC Old Glory Celebrates Youth Rugby In Curtain-Raisers

WASHINGTON, DC—On June 9, new Major League Rugby team Old Glory DC hosted a full slate of middle school and high school all-star curtain-raiser matches prior to their final match of their inaugural exhibition season against the Toronto Blues at Catholic University in Northeast Washington DC.

Touted as the Battle of the Beltway, the Rugby Maryland All-Stars took on the Rugby Virginia All-Stars in four matches. Fort Hunt’s JV side, dubbed the Road Warriors, also appeared in a pair of high school JV matches. More than 200 players participated across four and a half hours of rugby, entertaining the rugby crowd despite teasing rain showers for much of the day. 

It is all part of Old Glory’s efforts to build rugby in the DC Metro area rugby community. The team will join MLR action next season, but is already putting a strong effort behind supporting rugby at the younger end of the spectrum. Local men’s, women, and youth teams took part in curtain-raisers at each of the team’s four professional matches. 

Youth teams squared off during halftime of the Old Glory game. 

Photos by Hugh Ferridge and David Hughes

For Paul Sheehy, a former USA Eagle and a co-owner of the team, it just makes sense to include the lower levels in the game-day experience. A former coach of boys and girls youth rugby, was excited to see the younger players giving it their all.

“That’s where the future of our sport is,” Sheehy said Sunday. “Our future Old Glory players are out there playing”.

Old Glory DC co-owner, Chris Dunlavey, shared that excitement.

“We are lucky there’s so much great youth and high school rugby in our region,” Dunlavey said. “We have players playing today from programs as far away as Baltimore, Winchester, and Richmond. Old Glory DC is all about growing the game in our region and creating a cohesive pathway for the future players of American Rugby at all levels. Partnering with institutions like Rugby Maryland and Rugby Virginia makes the future possible. It’s awesome to see so much young talent and energy on display today.” 

The curtain-raisers were every bit as competitive as the MRL game (won, by the way, by Old Glory, 29-15). Four of the six matches were decided by fewer than two tries. 

Old Glory’s interest in youth and high school rugby is certainly appreciated by Rugby Virginia and Rugby Maryland administrators. 

“Having an MLR professional team in the Mid-Atlantic is great, but having Old Glory is phenomenal," said Stuart Willis, president of Rugby Virginia. "What they do for the community and youth rugby sets them way ahead of the others. Rugby Virginia salutes you.”

“You can’t imagine how grateful I am to have Old Glory DC Rugby create the rugby community we need,” said John France, president of Rugby Maryland. “Paul and Chris are some of the finest men we're lucky to know and what they’re building with partners and supporters is fantastic.”

France’s wife, Michele Mulholland France, the U19 Boys and Girls commissioner for Rugby Maryland, hopes that the all-star matches become a recurring event. 

“We’re looking forward to building on this first curtain raiser opportunity into an annual ‘river rivalry’, because although there may be regional differences between D.C., Maryland, and Virginia, and some of us don't like to cross bridges; we all share in one beautiful truth” Mulholland France said. “All our rivers run to the Chesapeake Bay, and we go to the beach, not the shore. Play rugby and you’ll see every corner of both our beautiful states and the nation’s capital. Support Old Glory DC Rugby and you’ll always have a rugby home to be proud of.”

RESULTS FOR THE DAY

Boys Middle School

Rugby Virginia 34 v Rugby Maryland 10

 

Boys JV High School

Fort Hunt Road Warriors 17 v Rugby Maryland 7

Fort Hunt Road Warriors 15 v Rugby Virginia 0

Rugby Maryland 10 v Rugby Virginia 5

 

Girls High School

Rugby Maryland 29 v Rugby Virginia 15

 

Boys High School

Rugby Maryland 10 v Rugby Virginia 19

 

Professional

Old Glory 29 v Ontario Blues 15

 

—Robert LaGow