Park City bids to be star of rugby scene
It started last year when the Park City Muckers and the Salt Lake Haggis rugby clubs decided to combine into one top-level, Park City-based team. It was the first step in trying to bring back the good old days of watching rugby in City Park every weekend, while simultaneously trying to put a Utah rugby team on the national map.
With appearances in both the Division I and Rugby 7s national tournaments, the Park City Rugby Club successfully completed that initial move forward and now they are ready to make a move again by becoming a host site for national rugby competitions.
According to Park City Rugby Football Club vice-president Alan Short, the team decided to start the bidding process earlier this year. USA Rugby sent out a request for host sites for the 2007 championship season, and Park City thought that they might have the perfect town and venue.
The late spring thaw forced the team and the city to chose later dates, so applications have been submitted for both the Men’s 7s National Championship on Aug. 11-12, 2007 and the Men’s and Women’s All-Star 7s Championship on the weekend of Aug. 25-26.
Short said that some of the things that USA Rugby were looking for in a host site included quality field space, easy access to airports, transportation and lodging and other tourist attractions in the area. Proven support of rugby was also key. Short said strong attendance at the annual Fourth of July tournament and previous 7s national championships should help Park City’s chances.
"Utah, in general, but especially Park City supports rugby," Short said.
The bid committee also looks at support from local businesses for other sporting events.
"Its important to mention it’s a tourist-type town," Short said. "Everything’s already in place."
Short also highlighted that Park City hosted the 2002 Olympic Winter Games, a fact sure to impress USA Rugby.
If Park City is named as a host site, the games would be held at the Quinn’s Junction Sports Complex. Short said that the city’s Parks and Recreation Department has decided to use those fields if they get the nod, to show off the unique facility. With nighttime lighting, locker rooms and bleachers, Short is confident that Park City should stand apart from other bids.
"That’s something USA Rugby will be drooling over," laughed Shorts.
He also mentioned established local media outlets that could provide better coverage for the event than a venue selected in a larger city.
Short said that the recreation department has been important throughout the entire process and he is looking forward to their continuing support if Park City become a host.
"They are so supportive. They really do a lot for us — allowing us to do this," Short said.
Park City’s success in 7s competition should also help their cause. Besides making it to the national tourney, five members of the team are in the pool for the 7s national team. The sport in general, is growing quickly. It is up for consideration as an Olympic Sport and interest continues to grow nationally.
"We’re having a lot of success in the 7s," Short said. "We’re a very fast and dynamic team, so we are starting to be noticed here. Our guys are reaping the benefits of 7s success and that’s important for the bid as well."
Short expects the decision for the host site naming to come early next year.
"I think the venue is right. I think the city is right," Short said.
Park City Rugby will host a game against Snake River from Boise, Idaho on Saturday, Sept. 9 at 2 p.m. There will be no concessions available, but the public is invited to a party in honor of Snake River at the No Name Saloon immediately following the game. Location for the game is to be determined soon.
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