RALEIGH, NC – This past Saturday, the Clayton Bootleggers travelled to Raleigh to take on the Tobacco Road Legends, a side made up of Old Boys from the Raleigh Rugby Club. The two sides met in the Fall for an exciting match and much of the same was expected as the two sides came into the match with drastically different playing styles. Tobacco Road boasted a large size advantage and aimed to use their size and physicality to dictate the pace of the match. On the flip side, Clayton wanted to use their speed in the backline to spread out the defense and push the pace of the match.
The match started out as expected with Tobacco Road crashing their forwards and setting the tone early. The Legends were first on the score board and were up 14-0 before Clayton got a long try from Wing Anthony Crumity to cut the score to 14-5 right before the 20 minute mark. Simon Potter added the conversion and Clayton trailed 14-7 a quarter of the way through the match.
Tobacco Road put their stamp on the match in the next 20 minutes as they dominated possession and stretched their lead to 31-7 before the Bootleggers scored another try late in the half when No. 8 Ted Hardy took an offload from Tim Robbins and scored. The conversion from Potter left the score at 31-14 at halftime.
The second half was a little bit better for the Bootleggers, but the continued pressure from the Legends forwards was just too much as they wore down the Clayton pack and left very few opportunities for the Bootlegger’s backs. The two sides traded scores in the second half with Clayton getting tries from Fullback Stuart McKenzie and another from Crumity, but it wasn’t enough as Tobacco Road notched a 50-26 win over the visiting Bootleggers.
“I am very proud of our Bootleggers and I think we are on the edge of becoming a really good rugby team. Little polishing work and we will be there,” said Clayton Head Coach JG Van Graan. “Great to be alive. Great to be a Bootlegger.”
A disappointing score for Clayton, but important to keep perspective. It is easy to forget that the Bootleggers haven’t even celebrated their 1st full year playing against other competition and many of the Clayton players have played in fewer than 10 games in their entire playing career.
“It was impressive to see how far you guys have come in such a short time,” said Legends Forward Mike Streicker. “Numbers of players, technical play, cohesive movement, team play. Across the board amazing progression for a team so new. Keep up the good work and glad to call you guys neighbors. You pushed Raleigh twice as hard as any team we played in the recent Savannah tourney.”
“That was a physical hard fought match. My hat’s off to the PACK for taking the brunt of the fight,” added Bootlegger’s Captain Jesse Rinehart. “It’s an honor to play with the Bootleggers. Thank you to everyone who gave it all on the pitch today. Although today was a loss, let us learn from defeat and come back stronger, harder and faster.”
The Clayton Bootleggers are back in action on April 25th as they travel to Havelock, NC to play in a tournament against Cherry Point and Camp Lejeune.
About the Clayton Rugby Football Club
Founded in 2013, the Clayton Rugby Football Club is a men’s rugby club affiliated with USA Rugby and the Carolinas Geographic Union. The club participates in Division IV of the CGU. The club is open to men, ages 18 and over, regardless of skill level or playing experience. In just a year’s time, the club has grown from 7 players to over 30 active playing members. If you’d like to learn more about the Clayton RFC or are interested in playing, please contact the club at [email protected] and a club representative will be in touch with you shortly.