CLAYTON, NC – In an effort to bridge a much needed gap in the playing continuum, the Clayton Rugby Football Club is pleased to announce that they are adding a U20 program to their club structure for the 2017/2018 playing season. The U20 side joins the club’s current list of Men’s teams that includes a D3 team, a D4/Social side, and an Old Boys (35 & Over) team that is in the works. With the youth rugby explosion that has taken place in recent years, the decision was an easy one for club officials as they continue to build towards the future.
The club plans to spend the next 3-4 months recruiting players for the team with the plan of fielding a U20 side in the Fall to play against area collegiate teams. As the concept is new and may take time to evolve, the club may push the age limit out to U21 or even U23 in order to get the team up and running.
“The retention rates for players that leave high school and go on to play college or club rugby is stunningly low in the United States,” said Club President Ted Hardy. “On top of that, every year there are hundreds of local kids that essentially see the end of their athletic careers when high school is over. We’re here to show them that it doesn’t have to be over and rugby can fill that void. At the same time we can ease their transition into adult club-level rugby which can often be physically and mentally difficult for young players.”
The U20 players will receive all of the same benefits that the club’s current playing members receive. Players showing potential and commitment will also have the opportunity to earn additional support from the Clayton RFC as well as the potential for overseas playing experiences through the club’s blossoming relationships in Scotland. The recruiting push will be led by Clayton’s newly appointed Recruiting Director Gareth Davies at the front. Davies has played high school, collegiate, and select side rugby in North Carolina and at 23 years old can relate to younger players and the issues that they face.
“I am more than excited to be given this opportunity,” said Davies. “I look forward to meeting and contacting prospects and bringing them home to our club. I love this club and everything we do. I want to do everything possible to make it better. It all starts with the great core of Old Boys that we have, but now it is time to bring in some young talent to take our club to the next level.”
The club’s goal is to set a roster of around 25 players by August when the club begins pre-season training. The U20 team will train alongside the Men’s teams and share coaching resources during the season. A Head Coach for the U20 side is expected to be appointed in the coming months. Once the team is up and running, the U20 squad will play competitive matches against local collegiate sides until a formal U20 or U23 competition is offered in the Carolinas. Players progressing quickly will also have the ability to earn selection to Clayton’s Senior men’s sides.
“Slowly, but surely interest in this level of play is growing in North Carolina and in the USA,” added Hardy. “Our #1 goal is always to get more people playing rugby, but we feel that building a U20 or U23 side will also have a major positive impact on the future of our Men’s teams.”
The Clayton RFC U20 side is open to young men, ages 18-22, that are located in Johnston County and the Triangle Region of North Carolina. Interested athletes and rugby players should contact the Clayton RFC at email@example.com for more details.