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Feature: Charlotte Barbarians Rugby Club

The Charlotte Barbarians squad pictured after their last game

We usually watch American sports on TV every weekend but not English based sports on a regular basis.

Move over Football, take over Rugby as the game of this sport is invented in 1823 named after Rugby School in England when William Webb Ellis caught the ball while playing the game of Rugby Football (known until 1895 when they were split into Rugby Union and Rugby League) at school.

Not only Rugby is considered as one of the fastest growing sports in the United States but also there’s a local Rugby team named the Charlotte Barbarians.

Founded in 2007, they have rapidly became the Charlotte area’s premier social Rugby club,  dedicated to developing an exceptional Rugby program while maintaining and emphasizing the traditional social elements of the sport: respect, community and most importantly to have fun!

1. First of all, how do you guys found a Rugby club in Charlotte? Is it through a group of friends or college or a person that is an expatriate in the US? 
 
Most of us in the states picked up the sport in college. Kids that grew up playing football or soccer, but can’t play at the college level for whatever reason, that pick up rugby. Our club was started when a group of guys split from another, more social, club in the area. We try to keep the social aspect while also being competitive on the pitch.
 
2. I saw on your website that the club’s early years, despite your struggles in terms of finalizing a full squad and a home ground, how did your team overcome that adversity of not letting your club fall into the trap of being defunct? 
 
Through force of will of some of our club leaders, and a general love of the game. We played some away matches with 12 or 13 men. We practiced for a couple years at a small elementary school field with only parking lot lights. But we continued to build, weathered the storm of a lot of the original members retiring, and now we are stronger than ever with 30+ guys at practice twice a week. Now the problem is finding playing time for everyone.
 
3. Since it’s now Fall, what’s your club’s main goal in order to get promoted to another division? 

Getting promoted is not our immediate goal. Our goal this year is to win our union and advance to the national playoffs. That doesn’t necessarily mean we are ready to jump up to a higher level of play. We are focussed on the organic growth of our club and its stability. When it is the best thing for the long-term success for our club we will make that push. 

4. Not only you’re producing a massive contribution on the field but also off the field in giving awareness through charity drives to bring back the community and even I saw on your website that you’re holding a Rugby Golf Fundraiser to raise support for those victims impacted badly by Domestic Violence? 

Charity and giving back to the community that supports us is a part of our team mission statement. For the past several years we have hosted various events to raise money and awareness for the Safe Alliance Charity, who offers hope and healing to those suffering from domestic violence. 

This year we will be hosting our first ever rugby golf tournament to raise funds and awareness. Rugby golf is a twist on traditional golf where we will be kicking and passing rugby balls on a golf course to make it into large holes. Through this event we will also be raising money for local youth and high school rugby clubs from the greater Charlotte area.
5.  Not only you’re producing a massive contribution on the field but also off the field in giving awareness through charity drives to bring back the community and even I saw on your website that you’re holding a Rugby Golf Fundraiser to raise support for those victims impacted badly by Domestic Violence? 
 
Charity and giving back to the community that supports us is a part of our team mission statement. For the past several years we have hosted various events to raise money and awareness for the Safe Alliance Charity, who offers hope and healing to those suffering from domestic violence. 

This year we will be hosting our first ever rugby golf tournament to raise funds and awareness. Rugby golf is a twist on traditional golf where we will be kicking and passing rugby balls on a golf course to make it into large holes. Through this event we will also be raising money for local youth and high school rugby clubs from the greater Charlotte area.
 
6. Not only your club gets to play in North Carolina locally but on a global basis such as the squad participating during Race Week at Charlotte Motor Speedway, going to a Sevens tournament in Georgia and even overseas to the Bahamas? 
 
That’s correct! Our team mostly plays in the Southeast region of the US, but occasionally we plan tours overseas. Our team is currently planning a trip to the Bahamas this coming February to play against the Nassau men’s rugby club.
 
7. How was it like being on Tuesday when you’re on NBC Charlotte’s morning show?
 
It was a great experience being able to showcase our team on such a big stage. Not many people in the USA are aware that there are rugby clubs in their area. Maybe aware of the USA team, but not the local teams in their own backyards. This gave us a chance to sign some light on our beloved sport and hopefully will catch the attention of new players or even spectators.
 
8.  Do any of your players tune in the Rugby on TV as well as knowing their Rugby idols on the field? 
 
Absolutely! Many players are huge international rugby fans. We will often record games and get together and watch them together as a team event. Or for the larger events such as the World Rugby Cup, we will gather at a bar or restaurant who’s willing to open early for us, and watch it together. It also gives us a chance to study the game as we don’t have many opportunities to see rugby live on TV in the USA.
 
9.  For those who are new to Rugby and want to try out, is there a training session, home and away games and is it too late to join the club right now? 
 
We practice almost all year long. People can join our club at any time and need no experience. Our practices are currently held at Frazier Park in Charlotte, NC on Monday and Wednesday nights from 6:30pm-8:30pm. Our games are played locally and away. During the regular season our away games will typically be within a 2-3 hour drive.
 
10. Why Rugby and Charlotte are a perfect combination in growing the awareness in not only the sport but also the talent, businesses and the expatriates coming from overseas in the area? 
 
We’ve always had a bit of an international flavor. Our current backs captain is an Australian, and we have a scrum half and flanker from New Zealand. The club was started with a South African as our best player. The universities and businesses definitely help bring those international players to the area. But Charlotte also benefits from a great youth rugby community. 

Unlike a lot of places in the US, kids are starting to play organized rugby here as early as 8 years old. We have over 1,000 youth rugby players in Charlotte from U19 on down. We also have 3 college clubs in the area, 4 adult men’s clubs, and an adult women’s club. Rugby is big on the West coast and in the Northeast, but in the South we are in one of the best cities for rugby.
 
Thank you for your time today, Adam Bulgrin from Charlotte Barbarians, Community Relations.
 

Make sure you come out and support the boys in blue when the Charlotte Barbarians will verse the Olde Originals at Matthews Sportsplex on Saturday, 1pm and don’t forget you can like the Charlotte Barbarians Facebook Page for regular updates throughout the season.

 
You can look at more information on their first Matrix game of the season this saturday here.
 
Credits: Charlotte Barbarians Rugby Club, Adam Bulgrin for the interview and Phil Munn for the image.

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