Category: Match Report

Bootleggers Finish 2nd at Moonshine 7s

RALEIGH, NC – On Saturday night, the Bootlegger’s 7s squad made the short trip to Raleigh to take part in the Moonshine 7s hosted by the Raleigh RFC. Last season, the men from Clayton won the Bowl competition at the tournament. After a confident start to their 7s season, the Bootleggers looked to improve on their finish at last year’s event. They did just that as the Bootleggers finished second in the tournament after falling in the Championship to the Rattlesnakes Alumni team.

The Bootleggers opened up pool play with a narrow 17-12 victory over New Bern. Matt Aronowitz scored two tries to lead the offense. DJ Johnson scored and converted a try to close out the scoring for the squad. Next up, the Bootleggers took on a team of Raleigh Backs, dubbed Tan & Handsome. The Bootleggers used a stout defense to keep Raleigh in check and they pulled out a 19-7 win. Nick Russell, Connell Smallwood, and Brendan Fitzpatrick each added tries for the Bootleggers with Russell and Fitzpatrick adding the conversions.

The Bootleggers finished pool play by taking on NC State to determine the top seed coming out of pool play. Clayton struggled to maintain shape as they fell to the Wolfpack 24-17. Even after the loss, the squad’s two earlier wins were enough to put them into the semifinals where they, once again, faced off against NC State. This time around, the Bootleggers found their groove as they got revenge on the Wolfpack with a 24-10 win. Gareth Davies, Chris Crumity, Johnson, and Aronowitz each scored tries in the semifinal victory.

“Our guys showed up to play. We came out with two solid wins in pool play before a tough loss to NC State,” said Clayton 7s Head Coach Jason Niemiller. “We quickly regrouped and came out strong in the semifinal and never let up.”

The win placed the Bootleggers in the Championship against a talented Rattlesnake Alumni team. The Rattlesnakes came out and pushed the tempo of the match early. They took the lead and the Bootleggers were left to chase a lead that they never caught  as the Rattlesnakes took home the Championship.

“The Rattlesnakes were a quality side. They took an early lead on us in the finals and kept pushing,” added Niemiller. “We played hard, but in the end we couldn’t close the gap.”

Overall, it was another solid showing for a Clayton 7s side that is slowly developing into a consistent performer among 7s sides in the Carolinas.

“I’m real proud of the way everyone played and supported us,” said Niemiller. “We took out a large roster, so it was hard finding balance in getting everyone quality playing time, but everyone was great.”

The Bootleggers continue their 7s season with a number of tournaments lined up in July, including the 2nd Annual CottonTown 7s hosted by the Clayton RFC. Stay tuned for reports as the team continues their season and pushes to bring more hardware back to Clayton.

Clayton Claims Bowl at Airborne 7s

For immediate release

FAYETTEVILLE, NC – This past Saturday, the Clayton Bootleggers 7s team opened up their season with a Bowl Championship at the Airborne 7s hosted by Fort Bragg Rugby Club. The tournament got off to a rough start as the Bootleggers dropped their first two games of the tournament. However, they bounced back strong with three straight wins to claim the Bowl. While it wasn’t the hardware they were after, the squad showed improvement throughout the tournament which bodes well for the rest of the Summer.

“We steadily improved throughout the day,” said Bootlegger’s 7s Head Coach Jason Niemiller. “We made mistakes when we deviated from our pattern, but when we stuck to it we were successful. We’ll build on it and be ready for the next tournament.”

The Bootleggers opened up the tournament with eventual runner up Old Toe. The men fell 26-17, but pushed a solid opponent to the end. Kutztown University product Joseph Thatcher scored two tries and Matt Aronowitz added a try in the loss. Things didn’t get much better in the second match as the Bootleggers struggled to maintain shape in a 40-7 loss to Fort Bragg A. Thatcher scored the lone try in the match and added the conversion.

With two losses in hand, the Bootleggers were back into a corner and faced off against a dangerous Camp Lejeune side. The men from Clayton put together a strong effort coming away with a 24-0 win. Notre Dame College product Flapp Bradshaw scored a try and added a conversion, Brendan Fitzpatrick scored a try with conversion, and the the Crumity Brothers… Chris and Anthony each scored a try for the Bootleggers in their shutout victory.

Having missed out on the Cup round, the Bootleggers moved into the Bowl Semifinals where they faced off against Fort Bragg B. The two sides got into a slugfest, but it was Clayton who pulled away down the stretch with a 33-19 win. Nick Russell, Aronowitz, Thatcher, Bradshaw, and Anthony Crumity each scored for the Bootleggers in the match. The win pushed Clayton into the Bowl Final and a rematch with Camp Lejeune. Just as in their first meeting of the day, the Bootleggers dictated the pace of play and scored a 35-14 win. Thatcher added his 5th try of the tournament, Russell scored his second, Bradshaw added his third of the day, and Wes Smith scored his first of the tournament with Fitzpatrick adding the conversions.

Tournament Roster: J. Thatcher, F. Bradshaw, W. Webster, J. Bartles, L. Shelton, J. Rogers, B. Fitzpatrick, B. Cowan, W. Smith, N. Russell, C. Crumity, A. Crumity, M. Aronowitz

The Bootleggers 7s side aims to keep the momentum going as they prepare for the Moonshine 7s hosted by the Raleigh Rugby Club on June 17th.

The squad practices every Wednesday night, 7pm, at East Clayton Community Park. New players are welcome at any time during the season.


Bootleggers Finish Season with Loss

CLAYTON, NC – The Clayton Rugby Football Club closed out their 2016/2017 XVs season with a loss to Camp Lejeune at home. The loss was the third in a row as the Bootleggers closed out their first season in Division 3 of the Carolinas Geographic Rugby Union. After consecutive lopsided losses from Cape Fear and Chapel Hill, the Bootleggers aimed to finish their season on a high note as they played host to Camp Lejeune at East Clayton Community Park. It wasn’t to be as Camp Lejeune took control of the match in the second half and never let up.

The Bootleggers dictated the early pace of the match against Lejeune and controlled much of the possession for the opening ten minutes of the match. They were rewarded with a long try from Matt Aronowitz to give them an early 5-0 lead in the 10th minute. Clayton continued to mount pressure on Lejeune, but missed out on a few golden scoring opportunities. They crossed again in the 20th minute when Eric Hile scored to extend the Bootlegger’s lead to 10-0.

Camp Lejeune came back strong and got on the scoreboard in the 30th minute. They followed that with three more rapid fire scores to take the lead. After controlling possession and play for most of the 1st half, the home side found themselves down 26-10 at the break.

Looking for a comeback of their own, Clayton came out and took the restart to the 2nd half. They worked the ball deep into Lejeune’s half and scored off of a quick tap on a penalty by Ted Hardy. The try cut Lejeune’s lead to 26-15 just minutes into the second half. The Bootleggers added another score when Nick Russell broke through the Lejeune line for a nice score, but the second half belonged to Lejeune. The visitor’s used their fitness to push the tempo of the match and found plenty of running room on their way to a 68-20 victory.

“Injuries took their toll on the guys this Spring,” said Head Coach Rich Munro. “At the same time, we weren’t where we needed to be to compete at this level. There are absolutely some things that we can fix before we start into next season. Fitness being at the top of the list.”

The loss closed out the Clayton 1st XVs first season in D3 and left them with a 5-8 overall record for the 2016/2017 season.

“We knew it would be a challenge,” said Club President Ted Hardy on the jump to D3. “We played in a tough division and it showed in the standings. We’ve got some good young talent coming our way in the Fall and our injured players will be healthy. There is every reason to believe that we’ll be back and much improved next season.”

With the season over, the Bootleggers now look at the upcoming 7s season where they expect to field teams at 4-5 tournaments this coming Summer. The club is also hosting the 2nd Annual CottonTown 7s tournament on July 15th. The club is expanding the tournament this year and expects 25-30 teams to come to town to participate this season.

The Clayton Rugby Football Club would like to thank all of their members, fans, supporters, players, and volunteers for a great season. Most of all the club is thankful for the support of their many sponsors in Deep River Brewing Company, Clayton Chiropractic, Orthopaedic Specialist of North Carolina, Crossfit Clayton, World Rugby Shop,, and Ruck Science.