Jersey Shore Rugby Wrap-up with Dr. J: Sport’s popularity at all-time high in South Jersey |
Jersey Shore Rugby Wrap-up with Dr. J: Sport’s popularity at all-time high in South Jersey
This is shaping up to be the year of rugby! Rugby is the second largest spectator sport in the world behind soccer, typically filling up 80,000-seat stadiums in European and southern hemisphere countries.
The famous Soldier Field in Chicago sold out every seat when International Rugby made its debut two years ago with the New Zealand All Blacks vs the USA Eagles matchup. Rugby is the fastest growing sport in the United States, growing at a rate of 13 percent faster than lacrosse.
In U.S. colleges, rugby has become a scholarship sport with most Division I teams offering tuition scholarships.
Locally, Rowan University has a top rugby program, with its men’s team advancing to the Division II national championship playoffs the last few seasons.
And, finally, Rugby will be making its Olympic debut this summer in Rio de Janeiro.
This is all very exciting news for the local rugby scene. Have you ever heard of Rugby Town? Well, in Southern New Jersey, Rugby Town is Galloway. Galloway Township is the home base for the Jersey Shore Sharks Rugby Club. Since 2007, Galloway has provided the fields and enthusiastic support for the Sharks Rugby program.
Beth Stasuk, the Recreation Director of Galloway, and Mayor Don Purdy have been very vocal proponents for rugby, and our Sharks club has affectionately labeled Galloway Township as Rugby Town.
The Sharks field three adult men’s teams (varsity, second side and old boys). In addition, the Sharks have a high school club and a co-ed youth program (ages 6-14).
The Sharks’ men’s club recently played first-place Wilkes Barre RFC and lost 34-14. Exceptional performances were made by Zubir Boyer (a former Atlantic City High football standout) and York College graduate Mike Swain. Both men played with aggressive passion and stood out with their ball running and tackling abilities.
Our high school team, the Cape-Atlantic Storm, bested local rivals Cherry Hill’s South Jersey team with spirted play by Sean Lenzch (Mainland), Grant Howell (Ocean City), Anthony Nastasi (Absegami) and Jimmy Rodweller (Absegami).
The Sharks’ co-ed youth tag rugby program had its season opener with more than 40 children playing.
On the college front, Liam Marshall of Longport is graduating from Salisbury State University. Liam was the captain of his school’s rugby team. JC Carr, of Galloway, graduates from Rowan University and was Rowan’s rugby captain.
Zachary Reichenbach of Mays Landing is graduating from Wheeling Jesuit University. “Big Zach” was named as one of the top 100 Division I rugby players in the USA.
Both Zach and JC are moving on to top-ranked Life University for graduate school degrees and to play on Life’s American Rugby Premiership team (perennial national champs and a stepping stone to the USA Rugby team).
This past weekend, the Sharks participated in the Atlantic City Rugby Invitational at the Watering Hole Café in Mays Landing. Eight men’s teams battled for the championship, with the Sharks placing third. (Look for more on this event next week in the May 20 edition of Glory Days Magazine).
This week’s rugby sponsor is Tripicians Famous Macaroons, located in Galloway Township, next door to the rugby field!
Dr. J. Zimmerman is the president of the Jersey Shore Rugby Club Board of Directors. He is the men’s club head coach and director of youth rugby. Dr. J. is also the team chiropractor. For more information on Jersey Shore Sharks Rugby, visit www.JerseyShoreRugby.com or at Facebook.com/jerseyshorerugbyclub, or call 609-652-6363 or email Jerseyshoresharks@gmail.com.