New England Rugby Club celebrates gold medal performance

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New England Rugby Club celebrates gold medal performance
The New England Rugby Club (Photo/Courtesy)

REGION – During the COVID-19 lockdown in 2020, Brad Nathan knew that he wanted to do something new.

Nathan had an athletics background, worked in sports for over 10 years and saw the lack of rugby programming in the area.

Three years later, the New England Rugby Club (NERC) – Nathan’s creation – finished another highly successful season. The club’s middle school boys’ tackle team took home gold medals at the Bay State Summer Games.

Coached by Nathan, Ben Wallace, Kevin Grist, Seamus Griffin, Ned Daniels, David Blore, and Brian Walsh, the NERC has middle-school athletes from Westborough, Southborough, Northborough and surrounding towns. The team practices in Southborough and Hopkinton.

“[Rugby] is both a physical and mental challenge and a whole lot of fun,” Blore explained.

“It’s a game of chess where all the pieces are moving simultaneously – with some rucking, mauling and tackling for fun.”

The NERC’s programming begins as early as kindergarten for some athletes. Learning the fundamentals of rugby young can help athletes in the future; many of the NERC’s players feed into Algonquin Regional High School’s top-ranked rugby program.

“I look at rugby the way I look at lacrosse in Massachusetts,” said Nathan. “Roughly 25 years ago, no one was talking about [lacrosse]. Years later, it’s now one of the most popular sports among youth in many areas… Rugby is where lacrosse was 25 years ago. For the rugby community… everyone works together to help grow the sport.”

Rugby is an attractive sport for many reasons. The sport can be played by anyone; Nathan said that anybody – whether they’re tall, short, fast, or slow – can bring something to the table. Blore mentioned that rugby involves lots of quick thinking.

The NERC teaches athletes how to play, but they also teach them how to win. This season, the middle-school tackle team won the Bay State Summer Games Rugby Championship against the South Shore Sharks, whom it had lost to earlier in the season. The victory represented months of hard work and practice.

“It was great seeing how the team has grown: taking on the values of rugby as a community, welcoming new players, making friends with players on opposing teams, [and] always playing in a sporting manner… The gold medal is a great recognition for them to recall their commitment and hard work throughout the season,” said Blore.

The winning athletes include Josh Betancourt, Cameron Glennon, Will Johnson, Brennan Kane, Brody Lynch, Henry Marcotte, Brendan Payant, Daniel Quee, Oliver Raskin, Wyatt Smith, John Wallace and Tim Walsh.

Looking to get involved? The NERC will soon be announcing its winter skills and conditioning clinic. The club is expanding to new local communities and hopes to start involving girls in their competitions in the fall.

Head to the NERC website (https://www.newenglandrugbyclub.com/) and Facebook (https://tinyurl.com/RRugbyCA) for more information on the club.

Correction: In an earlier version of this article, Brad Nathan was misidentified as David. We regret this mistake.

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