Park City Rugby back on the pitch
In the 1970s, a Park City Rugby game was the place to be on a Saturday night.
Thirty years later, an organization by the same name is hoping to recapture that spirit.
The newly formed Park City Rugby, a merger between the Park City Muckers and the Salt Lake Haggis teams, began playing in Division I level competition this last weekend. Although the two-teams were notorious rivals for many years, they decided to join forces as the Muckers began to lose numbers and the Haggis lost sponsorship.
"It just made sense to combine the two," said Park City Rugby president Jack Walzer.
The former Haggis members are fresh from winning a Division II national championship, and Walzer is confident that the new team will be even stronger.
Due to snowy conditions and prior commitments to winter sports, the Park City team is jumping into the USA Rugby Division I season about two months later than the rest of their competitors, but thus far, it has not been a problem. This past weekend, Park City beat the second place team in the Northern California division.
Walzer is hoping that this high-quality level of rugby will be appealing to Parkites and bring people out for games. The team will only play one home game during the Division I schedule, which weather may move down to Salt Lake. Still, Walzer thinks the enthusiasm will carry into the summer, when the team plans to host games, tournaments and invitationals at City Park and the new fields at Quinn’s Junction
"We want to be Park City’s team," Walzer said.
Already, the team has received a welcome response from Park City Municipal Corp. Walzer said the city is excited at the prospect of bringing in national tournaments, and the team is planning to make games very fan friendly. They have a new logo, which will be printed on jerseys and hats and sold at Games. There will be food served at home games, and Walzer is in the final stages of receiving a permit to operate the infamous beer truck that most people associate with rugby in Park City.
Walzer also hopes to continue to build sponsorship. He is creating marketing packets so potential sponsors can decide their level of support from a mention in the program to a banner on the field.
Games will also be carried on Park City Television, along with a weekly show that describes the basics of the game of rugby.
The Division I season will conclude in late May, and Walzer expects summer games to begin in mid-June and carry into September. City Park will be the team’s home field.
Walzer is already planning to bring in high-level teams from Colorado or California for the annual Fourth of July games, and has slated the Challenge Cup invitational tournament for late September at the Quinn’s Junction fields.
"Teams like to come to Park City," Walzer said. "It’s a nice host city."
The team will also bring back the traditional clambake event in late August in City Park.
During the summer, Walzer hopes to have a few international players join the team. Mark DeGoldi, who plays professionally in England, often spends his summers in Park City, and Walzer is hoping that he, along with some of his pro teammates, will want to spend the off-season with the new Park City team.
"International guys bring better coaching, cutting-edge play," Walzer said.
Most of the Division I games will be played in California and Seattle. Walzer says that their schedule will soon be finalized, as well as a working website to be released within the moth.
For more information on sponsorship, contact Walzer at 640-4850.
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