In their push to spread the joy of rugby, several Clayton Rugby Football Club players dropped by Hocutt-Ellington Memorial Library recently to donate books about the sport to the collection.
The books range from “R is for Rugby,” which teaches children about the sport along with their ABCs, up to more advanced titles such as “Think Rugby” and “Rugby Revealed,” which cover strategy and techniques for serious players and coaches.
In a first for Johnston County, Ted Hardy founded the Clayton Rugby Football Club in the fall of 2013 as an independent men’s team. The club, dubbed the Bootleggers in a nod to the area’s moonshine history, has since grown to include 250 to 300 men and women, boys and girls, ages 6 to about 55.
“Those numbers are extraordinary for anywhere in the U.S., let alone in a small area like Clayton,” Hardy said. “We’ve found people here have been real accepting of the sport.”
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How could rugby catch on so quickly in Clayton? If you ask Hardy, the sport simply sells itself.
“It’s a ton of fun,” he said. “Every player gets to do everything, and I think that resonates with a lot of kids, and I know it does with the adults.
“It’s not like football, where one or two guys touch the ball all the time. Everybody gets to touch the ball, everybody runs, everybody can score – so it’s just a lot of fun.”
The Bootleggers have worked hard to cultivate a family-friendly environment, Hardy said, and to keep the club fun for players of all levels of skill and athleticism.
“It’s a great culture we have with a lot of respect, sportsmanship and integrity,” he said. “You just have to have the desire to come out and play.”
In addition to Hardy, club members Simon Potter, Leo Sevilla, Jason Niemiller and Walter Webster – along with Hardy’s kids, 16-year-old Emma and 10-year-old Colin – visited Hocutt-Ellington Memorial Library to drop off their donation. While he was there, Niemiller took the time to apply for a library card.
Hardy thanked the library staff for working with the club and jumping at the opportunity to add some rugby books to the collection.
“From the first question I asked about giving books, they were all in and on it,” he said. “We’re keeping our eyes out trying to find some more, and if we come across some, we’ll hand them off as well.”
Hardy added that the club would like to see its relationship with the library continue to grow.
“We’re all about working in the community, and we love doing stuff like this, so this is a great relationship for us to have,” he said. “We’re already talking about setting up some reading events where we come in and read some books for kids.”
For more info on the Clayton Rugby Football Club, including schedules, registration details and a history of the club, visit ClaytonRFC.com