Category: Tournament Recap

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 Fare Well in Savannah

This past weekend, the Clayton Bootleggers made their second consecutive trip to compete in the Annual Savannah St. Patrick’s Day Tournament. Widely regarded as one of the top rugby events on the American rugby calendar, the Savannah tournament is a two day event that brings together over 80 teams from around the United States. The Bootleggers traveled strong to the event and quickly had to test that depth as injuries mounted over the weekend tournament.

The Bootleggers started off the tournament against the East Side Anchormen from Detroit, Michigan. Despite a shaky start to the first half, the Bootleggers took an early lead behind tries from Gareth Davies and Ted Hardy. The Anchorman answered back before halftime to place the score at 12-7 with Clayton leading as the teams went into the break. The second half was a wild affair as the squads exchanged tries, but it was Clayton that ended up on top in the end. Davies added his second of the match and the Bootleggers got tries from Stuart McKenzie, Vincent Faison, and Jonathan Sanyer. Brendan Fitzpatrick added the conversions as the Bootleggers earned a 36-19 victory over the Midwestern squad.

The win placed the Bootleggers up against the Hartford Wanderers out of Connecticut. The winner of the match earning a trip to the Division Championship game on Sunday and the loser heading to the 3rd place match. Hartford came out strong against Clayton, dictating the pace of the match with a strong set piece and punishing runners. Hartford got off to a great start with two early tries and a penalty goal to stake a 17-0 lead. Clayton found their footing midway through the first half and began to go through the phases. The Bootleggers closed the gap on the scoreboard with a try from Ted Hardy right before the half. The conversion from Fitzpatrick cut the lead to 17-7. The second half belonged to the Wanderers as they controlled possession and slowly began to grind down the Bootleggers. The constant pressure took its toll as Hartford cruised to a 35-7 win.

On Sunday morning, the Bootleggers were set to face off against the University of Georgia Alumni for 3rd place. Unfortunately, the UGA team only showed with a handful of players so the match was deemed a forfeit. In the spirit of rugby, the Bootleggers gave UGA some players and the teams played a friendly 10s match to close out the tournament for both squads.

The 3rd place finish was the second in a row for the Bootleggers as they will have to wait until next year to get over that hump and play for a Championship. Regardless of the finish, it was a great weekend for the club with plenty of bonding and fun.

“We took some lumps and had a few guys injured,” said Clayton Head Coach Rich Munro. “We have to bounce back fast as we have a tough opponent next weekend.”

The Bootleggers hit the road again this coming weekend as they travel to take on Carolinas North Division opponent Cape Fear.