Category: News

CottonTown 7s Enters 3rd Year

CLAYTON, NC – The end of the Clayton Rugby Football Club’s XVs season brings with it a resting period for many of the Bootleggers. The players moving onto the summer 7s tournament circuit get little rest as they return to practice next week to prepare for the 7s season. For the members of the Clayton RFC Executive Committee and General Committee, the work never truly ends. While the summer does provide a bit of much needed rest, the upcoming CottonTown 7s Rugby Festival is not one of those moments. Entering it’s third year of play, the CottonTown 7s has grown into one of the most well attended tournaments in the Carolinas. Scheduled for July 14th, the event brought in 18 teams at the inaugural event in 2016. Last year the tournament swelled to 30 teams. The club has their eyes set on beating that number this season. With a maximum capacity of 36 teams, the club has their work cut out for them.

Work to prepare for the CottonTown 7s begins slowly in January and builds up steam throughout the spring. Now a little over two months out from the event, tournament organizers are beginning to hit stride as registrations begin to come in from teams and plans begin to solidify. As with last year, the 2018 CottonTown 7s offers play in three different divisions with Men’s, Women’s, and High School Boys each battling it out for their respective division championships.

“CottonTown has grown faster than we ever expected,” said Clayton RFC President Ted Hardy. “We knew the potential was there to be a great event. We set out to provide a great tournament atmosphere and do it at a great price. We believe that we have hit those marks, so now the pressure is on us to keep raising that bar and provide the best experience possible for those attending the event. Whether as players or fans.”

The play on the pitch is only half of the experience, so the club is continuing to explore opportunities to add to the atmosphere for attendees. This year sees the return of the World Rugby Shop pop up shop at the event. The pop up shop was a big hit and the Clayton RFC expects to bring in even more rugby merchandise for fans this season. The club is proud to bring on The Redneck BBQ Lab as the Official Food Sponsor of the 2018 CottonTown 7s. Their award winning BBQ and food is going to be available throughout the day. July in North Carolina brings with it plenty of heat, so Kona Ice of Johnston County will also be on hand to help refresh players and fans. The club is working diligently to improve the experience for players and fans. Additional announcements are expected in the coming weeks.

“We’re really excited to team up with World Rugby Shop, Redneck BBQ, and Kona Ice,” added Hardy. “All three have been great supporters of the Clayton RFC and to have them involved with the CottonTown 7s means a lot to our club.”

This season marks the introduction of live streaming of the tournament. Event Webcasting is providing the live stream of the tournament. The event is streaming live to Facebook and follows with a higher resolution version uploaded to Youtube after the event is completed. Another new addition is a youth exhibition match during the mid-day intermission as players from Wilson’s Mills Youth Rugby take the pitch to entertain players and fans.

With the opening of the Johnston County Rugby Park in the fall, this year marks the final CottonTown 7s Rugby Festival being played at East Clayton Community Park. Next year’s event will move to the club’s new facility which should bring even more opportunities for improvement into light.

Registration has begun and the divisions are starting to fill up. The men’s bracket, in particular, is going to be a hot ticket. Of the twelve available slots in the tournament, half of them have already been secured. Interest in the Women’s and High School Divisions is starting to build. Places in the tournament are on a first come, first served basis. Teams are encouraged to register in advance to secure their places.

Teams can register for the 3rd Annual CottonTown 7s by following this link.

Admission to the event is FREE for fans.

Asheville Ends Clayton’s Playoff Run

ASHEVILLE, NC – This past Saturday, the Clayton Bootlegger’s season ended with a loss to Asheville in the Carolinas Geographic Union D3 Semifinals. Despite the loss, the Bootleggers end the season on a high note having reached the playoffs for the first time in club history. The surprise playoff run came in only their second season in Division III and only their fourth season in existence.

“It’s been a great season and appreciate all of the hard work put in by our players,” said head coach Rich Munro. “Asheville is a strong side and showed us where we need to be. No one expected us to be in the playoffs this season. We’ve shown what we can do and now we face expectations as well look ahead at next season.”

As expected of a playoff match, the match started off fast and furious with both sides using their forwards to commit defenders and then going wide to their back lines. The bruising Asheville pack aimed to control the match, but the two sides traded possession throughout the first quarter of the match. Both squads made trips into the opponents half only to come away without points. Midway through the scoreless first half, Asheville threatened deep in the Clayton half. Bootlegger back Ted Champman was given a yellow card for an intentional knock on. Asheville responded with two tries to stake a 14-0 lead.

With Chapman still in the bin, the Bootleggers recovered the restart from the second Asheville try and slowly moved the ball into scoring position. They were rewarded with a kick-able penalty from 30 meters out. Ed Dixon knocked it through to cut the Asheville lead to 14-3. The Bootleggers took the ensuing kickoff and again moved into scoring possession by controlling possession through their forwards. Clayton was rewarded with another kick-able penalty and Dixon provided the points to cut the deficit to 14-6 with ten minutes to play in the first half.

Off of the kickoff, the Bootleggers strung together an incredible 20+ phase attack to slowly push their way deep into the Asheville half. Clayton showed patience as they went through the phases before lock Jeff Cosgrove broke the Asheville line to score the first Bootlegger try of the match. The conversion from Dixon cut the Asheville lead to 14-13 with just minutes left in the first half.

The extended attack on the Asheville lines left the Bootleggers drained and the home side took advantage as they scored two rapid tries in the final moments of the first half to push their lead out to 24-13. Having finished the first half on a high note, Asheville went to work pounding away against the Bootleggers’ defensive lines. Using their forwards to control the tempo of the match, the second half belonged to the home side. They began to find space as their offense controlled possession and put Clayton’s defense to the task. As the Bootleggers wore down, Asheville answered with tries. Asheville scored five second half tries. The lone second half try from Clayton came through No. 8 Gareth Davies as the Bootleggers fell 59-18 to Asheville.

“There’s no reason to hang our heads,” added Munro. “The guys played hard the entire match and never gave up. Asheville was a better team. No shame in that. I’m very proud of our effort. We’ll learn from it and get better for next season.”

With the end of the 2017/2018 season, the Bootleggers move into the off season for some of their players while others prepare for the start of the Summer 7s Tournament season. The Clayton Rugby Football Club also prepares for their 3rd Annual CottonTown 7s Rugby Festival on July 14th. The tournament brought 30 teams to Clayton last year and they aim to top that number in 2018. All while this is happening, the club has broken ground on their new rugby facility and expect primary site work to be completed in July. The club expects to move into the facility sometime this Fall.

 

Bootleggers Playoff Bound After Win

CLAYTON, NC – It’s been a short history filled with new highs each year, but this past weekend was something special. For the first time in club history, the Clayton Rugby Football Club have made it to the playoffs. A win by Fort Bragg over Hilton Head coupled with the Bootlegger’s emphatic win over Camp Lejeune pushed Clayton into the playoffs. The Bootleggers now travel to face Asheville on April 14th in the Carolinas Geographic Union D3 Semifinals.

Founded in the Fall of 2013, it was almost exactly four years ago when the Bootleggers conducted their first practice session with just seven men in attendance. The club’s slow and steady progress led to them joining Division 4 in 2015. The following year the club moved up to Division 3 and now in their second season in D3 have advanced to the playoffs. The squad finished in 2nd place in the Carolinas D3 Eastern Division this season with a 5-3 conference record.

“I’m very proud of this group,” said head coach Ruch Munro. “The guys put in a lot of work this year and pushed through some tough patches. We’ve built a little depth in the squad and it has helped us make strides on the pitch. We still have a long way to go, but the pieces are there.”

To reach the playoffs, the Bootleggers needed a victory over Camp Lejeune and the men didn’t disappoint. Knowing that they needed a bonus point victory and to score extra points in the event they ended up needing a tiebreaker with Hilton Head. The Bootleggers did exactly that in setting a club record with 98 points scored in the match. The home side ran in 16 tries on the way to the lopsided victory. Flyhalf Brian Anderson led the way with three tries as he guided the Bootlegger attack. Flanker Stuart McKenzie added three tries to the total as well. Jonathan Sanyer, Gareth Davies, and Deven Howard each added two tries apiece while Luke Haskins, Jeff Cosgrove, Simon Potter, and Ted Hardy each added solo tries to the effort.

After a shaky start that saw Camp Lejeune with a 19-12 lead twenty minutes into the match, the Bootleggers settled into their game plan and used a structured attack to build the phases and retain possession. Five tries over the next twenty minutes gave the Bootleggers a 48-19 lead going into halftime.

The second half was more of the same as the home side pushed out to a 91-26 lead before Camp Lejeune answered back with two converted tries in the final ten minutes. With time expired, Anderson capped off his hat trick to close out the match. Ed Dixon added nine conversions on the afternoon for the Bootleggers as they strolled to a 98-40 victory.

“We’re excited,” added Club Captain Simon Potter, who was one of a few people that attended the first club practice and is still actively playing. “We’re all here to have fun and this is the best part of the season. We’re going to savor this opportunity to extend our season a few weeks.”

“When we started all of this, we didn’t expect to even be competitive for five years, let alone be in the playoffs,” said Club President Ted Hardy. “We appreciate all of the hard work put in by our admin staff, coaches and players this season. Reaching the playoffs isn’t just for the guys that accomplished it on the pitch this season. It is about all of the guys that helped start this club and stuck through the early years knowing that they were paving the way for others.”

In the second match of the day, the Bootleggers’ 2nd XV took on a combined Wake Tech/New Bern/Lejeune side. After a close opening twenty minutes, the Motley side went on a run scoring 27 unanswered points as they carried a 32-5 lead into the final quarter of the match. The Bootleggers didn’t give up as they added two late tries, but it was too little too late for the 2nds as they fell to the Motleys 37-19. Anthony Crumity scored two tries for the Bootleggers with Kai Saltana scoring his first career try.

The club’s eyes now turn to the playoffs. With three weeks to heal up injured players and prepare, the match against Asheville is poised to be a great one.

“This is a great opportunity,” added Munro. “It’s not every year that you get a chance to extend your season in the playoffs. We’re going to enjoy it, but we’re going to Asheville not to just participate. We want to win.”