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De Wilde Facilities Director's Pride in Training Site for USA U20s

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De Wilde Facilities Director's Pride in Training Site for USA U20s

You can't beat the view. The De Wilde fields in Ferndale, Wash.

The USA Rugby U20s are gearing up for a crucial competition, and their training ground is anything but ordinary.

Chuckanut Bay Rugby Club has prepped the deWilde Rugby & Polo Club grounds for this vital training session. Here's why deWilde is the perfect place for the U20s to hone their skills:

Prime Location: As USA Rugby competes for the Americas spot in the World Rugby U20 Trophy, deWilde offers a strategic location.

Professional Preparation: The U20s need a training ground that reflects the competition level. DeWilde boasts two professional, meticulously lined pitches.

Optimal Playing Surface: Imagine a pristine Pacific Northwest natural grass turf blend surface. That's exactly what awaits the U20s at deWilde – perfect for honing their rugby skills.

Training Advantage: DeWilde's top-notch facilities provide the ideal environment for the U20s to train rigorously and prepare for their upcoming matches.

With deWilde as their training base, the USA Rugby U20s have all the tools they need to succeed in their quest for the Americas spot in the World Rugby U20 Trophy competition.

Here's what Greg Gandy, Maintenance and Facilities Director at deWilde Rugby Fields, had to say about it all.

Greg Gandy, Maintenance and Facilities Director at deWilde Rugby Fields

Chuckanut Bay Rugby Club has been investing in revamping the deWilde Rugby & Polo Fields over the last couple of years. Greg explained how the COVID-19 shutdown became an unexpected opportunity. With fewer activities, the focus shifted to field improvements. Initially, the plan was to level two pitches, but seeing the potential for further enhancement, Gandy proposed an irrigation system.

The project relied heavily on volunteers. Amazingly, around 70-80 people participated in the installation, significantly reducing reliance on manual labor. The club invested in a full system which has resulted in a very high quality Tall Fescue Sports Turf Blend providing an optimal playing surface that is not only safe but allows for nop notch performance.

Since the project officially launched in 2020, we have completed 2 phases, fully funded the 3rd phase and hopefully this year, we launch the fundraising for the 4th phase. You can learn more about each phase at

Why Here and Now?

Several factors make deWilde Rugby Fields a world-class facility and ideal for the U20 program's visit, Gandy said:

Proximity: The location near the Canadian border makes it a convenient stopover for international teams traveling north.

Professional Fields: The high-quality, well-maintained fields provide a professional training ground for the U20 players.

The Pacific Northwest has some excellent weather conditions for rugby in general and the visit by the USA U20s team in May is a perfect time to train at deWilde. We recently reseeded and applied a whole new layer of sand, so the grounds are in perfect condition right now and excited to see the nations top U20 players training here.


Maintaining the fields is a continuous process. Gandy himself contributes at least 30 hours a week. While volunteer labor helps keep costs down (around $32,000 annually compared to a potential $300,000 for outsourced services), it's a significant commitment.

145,000 gallons of water is applied each week through the irrigation system and during the summer that will increase to 300,000 gallons per week.

Gandy has the help of 8 consistent volunteers that help maintain the property through weekly mowing and maintenance plus the seasonal larger projects that keep the fields in top notch shape. There is also an extended group of 50 more volunteers that are called on during larger projects. This is what rugby is all about and why Chuckanut Bay Rugby Club is so special.

How A Top-Notch Playing Service Helps the Players

The well-maintained surface offers several advantages:

Safety: A good playing surface reduces the risk of injuries like rolled ankles and broken bones. Coaches have reported a significant decrease in such injuries since the field improvements.

Optimal Training Environment: The consistent surface allows for predictable ball behavior, enabling players to focus on strategies and play without worrying about uneven terrain.

"Having the U20s players here is a true test for our fields," said Gandy. "So we are all excited to see and hear the response from the players and coaching staff about the conditions of the facilities and how this will help with their preparation for the upcoming test matches against Canada."

The USA U20s play Canada on June 1 and June 6.

Helping the USA U20s Prepare

Gandy, drawing from his experience in other sports, believes a facility like deWilde is invaluable for high-level training. The consistent surface minimizes the risk of injuries during practice, allowing players to focus on tactics and peak performance for the actual matches.

The future of deWilde Rugby Fields seems bright. Gandy said Phase 3 of the project has been fully funded to renovate the entire parking lot with stormwater retention, all new gravel surface for all parking areas, and new gates and fencing. With some help from the State of Washington 2023 capital budget allocation, deWilde will complete Phase 3 construction by the end of 2024.

And After That?

The next big project is new bathroom facilities for the property, labeled phase 4; the club plans to kick off fundraising for this phase in summer 2024. Learn more and donate to deWilde Rugby & Polo Fields at

Make a difference to the USA Rugby U20s program by making a donation at