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.