Rugby United New York Helps Fund Creation of Local Men’s Club
RUGBY UNITED NEW YORK HELPS FUND CREATION OF LOCAL MEN’S CLUB
Rugby United New York is continuing its efforts to support the community and grow the game, this time by helping fund the creation of a local rugby team – Queens Rugby’s new men’s side. Owner James Kennedy has committed to purchase the kit for the new team, who will begin play in the Empire Geographic Union Division 4 this season.
During RUNY’s successful first Major League Rugby season, their oft-cited hashtag #UnitetheEmpire spoke, in part, to the unique circumstances of being the professional rugby team in New York City. As the U.S.’s biggest city, and as a melting pot for ex-pats from all parts of the world, the Big Apple is uniquely suited to developing a large and diverse rugby culture. But that often means long-standing local rivalries. Since inception, Kennedy has always considered it one of his organization’s goals to bring New York City’s broad array of rugby players together. Today’s announcement furthers that goal.
Queens Rugby’s new men’s side is being founded by Dan Browne and Mike Cotto, two long-time members of the American rugby community. Browne was most recently a member of New York Rugby Club, the oldest continuing domestic rugby club in the nation. But he is perhaps best known to the RUNY faithful as the head of RUNY’s fan club, the Rooster Boosters. Cotto was introduced to the sport when he was 17, joining the LIRFC Colts U19 program before continuing with SUNY Oswego and LIRFC men.
Seeing interest in rugby in the Queens area growing, Browne and Cotto decided to take the leap and form this new side. It has been their dream to bring more rugby to area and they are now proud to see that come to fruition.
Their opportunity came by way of Eric Mace, who founded Queens Rugby as a high school program in 2018. Mace also received early assistance from RUNY. He says, “James and RUNY’s commitment to growing the game cannot be understated. With their support, we have been able to establish a brand-new high school program based in Flushing, fielding both a boys’ and girls’ side. Being able to bring each of our kids to a number of RUNY home matches has only deepened their love for the sport and has inspired many of them to pursue opportunities to continue playing rugby at the college level. With our second season starting soon we look forward to growing alongside RUNY and continuing our commitment to building rugby in Queens”
With Mace’s success serving as a confirmation of the growing local demand, Browne and Cotto saw a chance to build something new in a borough in need of more competitive rugby options. Aside from Rockaway RFC, an old and respected club, Queens is largely unrepresented in men’s rugby. RUNY already has a strong relationship with Rockaway and expects the introduction of this new side to be mutually beneficial. Kennedy is looking forward to seeing a new local derby grow.
The first meeting of the Queens Rugby men’s side occurred the evening of July 24th. Preparations are being made for the upcoming fall season. Training will be at Queensbridge Park. For more information on how to get involved with Queens Rugby, contact [email protected]
And don’t expect RUNY to stop there. Queens Rugby is just their latest endeavor in a series of community outreach, expansion and support efforts. And no borough will be left behind. RUNY is also actively exploring the formation of a new club out in Staten Island. Turns out Unite the Empire is more than just a hash tag.
About Rugby United New York
Rugby United New York is a professional rugby team who joined Major League Rugby as an associate member in 2018, playing a brief, but successful exhibition season. Their first full MLR schedule will took place in 2019. RUNY’s vision is to bring the excitement of professional rugby to the New York sports landscape. The use of rugby’s core values of teamwork, inclusion, respect and integrity, will help to educate, inspire and connect with the New York Community. Rugby United New York, the city’s first professional rugby franchise, strives to unite the entire rugby community and enrich it at every level throughout the region. The team was founded by James Kennedy of the Murphy Kennedy Group, who is an active supporter of grassroots rugby.
About Major League Rugby
MLR is a professional rugby league that launched in April of 2018. It’s an initiative of the American rugby community, in partnership with private investors, who believe that American rugby can thrive at the highest levels: as a commercial enterprise; as an influential player on the international scene; and as a participation sport at the youth and senior level. MLR is the pinnacle of the American rugby, and provides a rallying point for local communities, a focal point for American rugby fans, and an aspirational destination for young athletes. For more information, visit usmlr.com.
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