The Bootleggers finished the Fall portion of the 2018/2019 season on a high note with both the club’s 1st and 2nd XVs picking up wins in their final divisional matches of the year. The victories send both sides into the holiday break bullish about the second half of the season.
On November 17th, the Clayton 1st XV fought off a spirited Camp Lejeune side for an important 45-38 road win. Eric Hile paced the offense with three tries while Brian Beauregard added a pair. Wesley Smith and Alex Branoff each added tries. Branoff’s try was his first career try for the club’s 1st XV. Ed Dixon converted five of the seven tries for the Bootleggers. It was a valiant effort for Camp Lejeune. After a seesaw first half that finished with Clayton ahead 26-24, the Bootleggers scored three unanswered tries as they rolled out to a 45-24 lead with less than 20 minutes to play. As Clayton was threatening to score another try, a turnover and counterattack shifted momentum in favor of the home side. Camp Lejeune scored three tries in the final ten minutes and were threatening again when time expired.
The victory leaves the Clayton 1st XV with a 6-2 overall record on the season and 3-1 in Carolinas Rugby Union Division 3 play. The Bootleggers are in a solid position heading into the 2nd half of the season to compete for another trip to the D3 playoffs. They have some tough road matches coming up after the break with trips to face Triad and the Charlotte Barbarians in February, so it should be an exciting run towards April.
The club’s 2nd XV finished their Fall schedule with a come from behind win over the new Raleigh Redhawks men’s side on November 11th. After falling behind early, the Bootleggers 2nds clawed their way back into the match and pulled away in the second half with a 43-29 win. The 2nds finished the first half of the season with an overall record of 2-2 and they sit at 1-2 in Carolinas Rugby Union Division 4 play.
“We’re in solid position heading into 2019,” said Bootleggers’ head coach Rich Munro. “We have a bit of depth building in the squad and we have some new players that have already made a big impact this season. We played some good rugby during the first half of the season and we struggled at times. Now it’s a matter of us hitting it hard after the New Year and building on the first half of the season.”
As the curtain closes on 2018, the Clayton Rugby Football Club looks back on a banner year while looking ahead to even bigger things to come in 2019. The club experienced another splendid year on and off the pitch. It wasn’t without challenges as both the players and leaders of the club were put to the test in the past year.
At the top of the list of both accomplishments and challenges faced by the Clayton RFC is the Johnston County Rugby Park. The club broke ground on the facility over the summer and is under construction. The park is expected to open for play sometime in 2019. The development of the park has been a massive effort and endeavor for the club. The facility is set to play a massive role in the future of the club.