Category: News

Bootleggers Drop Heartbreaker to Cape Fear; 2nds Win in a Rout

CLAYTON, NC – On a gorgeous Carolina Winter afternoon, fans were treated to not one, but two great matches at East Clayton Community Park. All four teams, in play, made the most of the excellent conditions and produced two exhilarating matches. The opener was a heated battle between the 1st and 2nd place teams in the Carolinas D3 Eastern Division. The match was immediately followed by a high scoring affair between the Bootlegger’s 2nds and a combined New Bern/Wake Tech side. The picturesque rugby day was accented with the aroma of food cooking from the back of the end zone and online streaming of the match from a local broadcaster.

From the opening kickoff, it was apparent that Clayton and Cape Fear were going to put forth a cracking match. The two sides traded possession early on as the teams were feeling each other out. Despite having the run of play in previous matches against the Bootleggers, it was obvious that the tune had changed for Cape Fear. Both sides settled in early on into playing field position with the Bootleggers pinning Cape Fear into their half during the early parts of the match. The field position battle produced the first score of the match as Clayton attacked from inside the Cape Fear 40. Bootlegger’s flyhalf Brian Beauregard found a gap in the Fear defense and offloaded to scrumhalf Brian Anderson who appeared on his way in for a try. Cape Fear were able to wrangle Anderson just before he scored, but he was able to offload to lock Ted Hardy who dove over for the first score of the match. Ed Dixon provided the conversion for an early 7-0 lead for the Bootleggers.

Clayton continued to pressure inside of the Cape Fear half, but some strong work at the breakdown by Fear produced a penalty. A nice touch finder gave Fear a line out inside of the Clayton 40 and their first trip into the home side’s half.  Cape Fear found some space to run off of the line out and their inside center carried deep into Bootleggers’ territory. Three phases later, Cape Fear  went weak side and was awarded a penalty try after a high tackle in the corner on the Fear wing. The conversion knotted the match at 7-7 with twelve minutes gone from the clock.

The two sides then locked into a defensive battle filled with hard hits and smart positional play. Clayton maintained the bulk of possession, but found themselves in penalty trouble that thwarted a few promising attacks. With the half drawing close, Clayton pushed their way into Fear’s half aiming to break the tie. From a penalty, Bootleggers’ Captain Simon Potter took a quick tap and weaved his way through Cape Fear’s defense. He found Anderson in support and the scrumhalf was over for the second score of the match. Dixon’s conversion gave the Bootleggers a 14-7 as the half drew to a close.

The second half continued much like the first half as the two sides refused to give ground. Both squads put together promising attacks early in the second half only to be denied by stout defensive efforts. Penalty trouble put Clayton on the back foot again as Cape Fear used a penalty to move the ball into the Bootleggers’ half. From a line out on the Clayton 40, Cape Fear spun the ball wide and moved the ball into the red zone. Cape Fear put together a series of phases that ultimately led to a try from a crashing forward. The conversion deadlocked the match at 14-14 as the sides headed into the final quarter of the match.

Clayton aimed to wear down Cape Fear with a strong rolling maul and ate up large chunks of territory. This gave the Bootleggers a couple promising shots at the Cape Fear goal line, but were undone by more penalties. The battled continued back and forth as the intensity increased. In the 70th minute Cape Fear broke the tie after a quick tap off of a Clayton penalty around mid field. After drawing in Clayton defenders, Cape Fear went wide and threatened to score. A Cape Fear player went over the line and appeared to initially have been held up, but a second effort grounded the ball for the tie breaking score. The conversion gave Cape Fear a 21-14 lead with less than ten minutes to play.

With the clock ticking, the Bootleggers drove the ball deep into Cape Fear’s half. The home side strung together a nice set of phases, but were undone again by penalties. Two Cape Fear players were yellow carded in the waning moments of the match which gave the Bootleggers a glimmer of hope. With the ball deep in their own half, Clayton attempted a final push. With some room to run, the Bootleggers went wide, but the scrambling Cape Fear defense was up to the task. A forward pass ended the match and any hope of late heroics from the home side.

“It was a disappointing end to the match, but I’m so proud of these guys,” said Clayton head coach Rich Munro. “Cape Fear is a strong side and we’re not far off. We hate to lose this one, because it was there for the taking, but there is a lot of great things to take away from this.”

Following the exciting opener, the Clayton 2nds took the pitch against a combined New Bern/Wake Tech side. The men were determined to bring home at least one victory for the home side on the day. The two sides locked into a seesaw battle in a first half that produced some great scores. The Bootleggers got off to a quick start with an early try from wing Sharif Nash. The conversion from flyhalf Jesse Rinehart staked the Bootleggers to a 7-0 lead. Minutes later, hooker Jon Sanyer crashed over for a try to extend the lead to 12-0. New Bern bounded back with three consecutive tries to take a 15-12 lead.

The Bootleggers’ regained the lead with a try from Rinehart, but New Bern quickly regained the lead with another try to place the score at 20-17 in favor of the visitors with about 20 minutes played in the first half. A try and conversion from Zane West gave the Bootleggers a 24-20 lead only to see New Bern return fire with another try to take a 25-24 lead. Minutes later Bootleggers’ lock Les Shelton scored his first try. West added the conversion as Clayton took a 31-25 lead into halftime.

The back and forth flow of the first half turned into mostly one way traffic in the second half as Clayton began to find a flow to their play. The Bootleggers’ forwards produced a strong effort which gave the backs plenty of room to run. West added his second try of the match, Nash added his second, Deven Howard scored two second half tries, and Anthony Crumity also crossed over for the home side in the second half. New Bern managed only two second half tries as the Bootleggers pulled away for a 64-35 win to close out the day on a high note.

“The first half was a little shaky,” added Munro. “They settled down in the second half and played some nice rugby. Some of the best rugby we’ve seen from our 2nds yet. It was a great day for our club from top to bottom.”

The Bootleggers return to action on March 10th at home against the Charlotte Barbarians. Despite the loss, the Bootleggers’ 1st XV remained in second place, but now face a must win match up at Hilton Head on March 17th followed by another must win at home against Camp Lejeune on March 24th. Clayton defeated both teams in the Fall, but face stiff tests in against them to reach the playoffs for the first time in club history.

Clayton Battles to Win over Fort Bragg

FORT BRAGG, NC – The Clayton Bootleggers 1st XV returned to Carolinas D3 play this past Sunday as they took on rivals Fort Bragg on base at Towle Stadium. Every match against Fort Bragg is a hard hitting affair and the host side didn’t disappoint. Fort Bragg’s defensive pressure effectively disrupted the Clayton attack and kept the Bootleggers from ever settling into the match. The pace and intensity of the match also produced a penalty laden affair that saw three players sent to the bin, two of which were Clayton players.

The match started off in fine fashion as the Bootleggers, clad in their new alternate kits, took the opening kickoff and charged down the pitch. Within a couple of phases, flyhalf Brian Beauregard caught the Bragg defense flat and chipped over the top for fullback Cam Grim to recover and score. Grim added a second try about ten minutes later and the squad appeared to be off and running. The conversions from Beauregard staked Clayton to an early 14-0 lead.

Fort Bragg answered back in the 20th minute with the first of three tries from their scrumhalf. The Bootleggers recovered the ensuing kickoff and a Fort Bragg penalty led to a lineout in the corner for Clayton. A perfectly executed maul, off of the lineout, from the Bootleggers led to a try from team Captain Simon Potter.

Just before halftime, the Bootleggers extended their lead to 24-7 when Connell Smallwood bashed his way through the Bragg defensive line to score under the posts. Despite some of the scrappy play in the first half, the Bootleggers took a comfortable lead into the break.

Clayton added onto that lead in the 50th minute when Gareth Davies struck from 20 meters out after a nice run of play from the Bootleggers. The conversion from Ed Dixon gave the visitors a commanding 31-7 lead as they appeared poised to run away with the match.

A yellow card to Potter opened the door for Bragg and they answered with two quick tries to cut the Clayton lead to 31-17. A 60th minute try from Clayton hooker Eric Hile and conversion from Dixon extended the Bootleggers’ lead to 38-17. Beauregard added a score in the corner a few minutes later that pushed the lead to 43-17 with about ten minutes to play.

Hile was sent off with the second yellow of the match for Clayton and Fort Bragg staged one last comeback. The hosts scored 17 points in the final ten minutes to leave the final score at 43-34 in favor of the Bootleggers.

“It wasn’t the prettiest, but it was a win,” said Clayton head coach Rich Munro. “A lot of credit to Fort Bragg for keeping up the pressure. We never got into a groove and we were in penalty trouble the entire match.”

The win ups the Bootleggers’ record in conference play to 4-1 this season and keeps them in 2nd place in their division right behind Cape Fear. Clayton hosts Fear this coming Saturday in a pivotal Carolinas Eastern Division matchup.

“We need to do much better next week if we want to challenge Cape Fear,” added Munro. “We’ll go back to work and aim to fix some of our mistakes from this weekend.”

Following the match, the Clayton 2nd XV took the pitch against Fort Bragg B. The Bootleggers jumped out to an early lead when newcomer Sharif Nash scored on his first touch of the ball in a live match. A few minutes later, Nash scored his second try of the match. The Bootleggers kept up the pressure as Eric Tansey added another score under the posts. Conversions from Ted Chapman staked the Bootleggers to a 19-0 lead late in the first half. Bragg picked up a score just before halftime to cut the lead to 19-7.

Just as the Bootleggers came out firing in the first half, Bragg came out storming in the second half. Bragg scored three tries over the span of ten minutes to take a 24-19 lead over the Bootleggers 2nds.

Clayton then regained the lead when Nash completed his hat trick as he weaved through the home side to score under the posts. Nick Taylor added the conversion and the Bootleggers held a narrow 26-24 lead with just minutes to play. Unfortunately, Fort Bragg had one last charge in them and they scored with no time left on the clock. The conversion gave Bragg’s Bs a 31-26 victory in an entertaining match.

The Bootleggers return to play this coming weekend. The club’s 1st XV takes on Cape Fear in an important Carolinas D3 Eastern Division matchup. The 2nd XV finishes off the day against New Bern.

Clayton RFC Named Host for NSCRO Regional Championship

CLAYTON, NC – Adding to their growing list of rugby events, the Clayton Rugby Football Club is excited to announce that they have been named as hosts for the 2018 National Small College Rugby Organization (NSCRO) Mid-Atlantic South Region Championship match. Set to take place on Sunday April 8th, 2018 at the Clayton RFC’s current home pitch at East Clayton Community Park the match is part of the pathway to the NSCRO National Championship. Loyola University of Maryland has secured the Mid-Atlantic birth in the championship while the South representative has yet to be determined. The winner of this match qualifies for the NSCRO Champions Cup National Championship on April 28-29th.

Founded in 2007, NSCRO has been at the forefront of fostering and developing small college rugby programs in the United States. NSCRO is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing services to small college programs that raise the profile, image, and benefits of collegiate rugby in the eyes of school administrators. The organization currently provides services to nearly 400 Collegiate Men and Women’s clubs with over 11,000 participants.

“We are extremely excited and thankful to have this opportunity to work with NSCRO and begin to build a relationship,” said Clayton RFC President Ted Hardy. “This is exactly the type of event that we planned to pursue after opening the Johnston County Rugby Park later this year, but when we were approached by NSCRO it was too great of an opportunity to pass up.”

The Mid-Atlantic South Region Championship expects to draw fans, from multiple states, to Johnston County and the Clayton RFC is working hard to provide the travelling teams and fans a great experience. The club is expecting upwards of 250 fans to make the trip to Clayton to watch the Championship. The club is working with the Johnston County Visitor’s Bureau to help make the trip to the area great, both on and off of the pitch, for all of the visitors.

“We are pleased with the selection of the Clayton Bootleggers RFC as host for this important match and know the teams and their fans will have a great experience,” said NSCRO President Steve Cohen.

The Clayton RFC isn’t a stranger to rugby events as they host one of the largest Summer 7s tournaments in the region. The 2017 CottonTown 7s Rugby Festival brought in 30 teams and almost 500 players to the area for the tournament. This past Fall, the club also hosted a Southern Rugby Conference playoff match between East Carolina University and Coastal Carolina University.

“It’s a few months off, but it will be on us before we know it,” added Hardy. “We look forward to the challenge. We learn a little something from each event that we host and use that knowledge to make the next event even better. I think the NSCRO Mid-Atlantic South Championship will provide a great platform for us to continue to expand and improve upon on our game day presentation and operations.”

Admission to the NSCRO Mid-Atlantic South Region Championship is free of charge and open to the public.

For more information, please contact the Clayton RFC at

About the National Small College Rugby Organization 

Since 2007, the National Small College Rugby Organization (NSCRO) has been at the forefront of fostering and developing small college rugby programs in the United States. NSCRO is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing services to small college programs that raise the profile, image, and benefits of collegiate rugby in the eyes of school administrators. Comprised of nearly 400 men’s and women’s college rugby clubs who participate in more than 30 leagues, NSCRO provides an opportunity for these programs to showcase their abilities to a broader audience with a chance at a national title and ranking. Along with recognizing club and player success on and off the field, the increased visibility NSCRO creates has led to improved school support, greater on-campus interest in rugby, and growth in financial support and alumni involvement.

For more information, visit and follow us on, @nscrorugby on Twitter and @nscrorugby on Instagram.

About the Clayton Rugby Football Club

Founded in 2013 and having played their first game in mid-2014, the club has grown quickly with an active membership of over 70 people. Developed with a family friendly and community driven club culture, the Clayton RFC offers both playing and social membership levels. The Clayton RFC currently fields three Men’s teams (D3, D4, and Old Boys) with a fourth (U23) in development. The club also provides rugby to local youth through outreach activities, camps, and a Spring and Fall youth program through their partnership with the Town of Wilson’s Mills.