On Saturday June 6th we hosted the 8th Annual AIG NYC Rugby Cup where over 800 student athletes made up 67 teams and came together to celebrate the youth rugby community in NYC and to compete in the biggest flag rugby tournament on the East Coast.
The morning weather threatened to spoil the fun but the drizzle couldn’t dampen our spirits, and the sun appeared just as teams began to arrive. Each team was kitted out with tournament jerseys representing one of the Rugby World Cup nations, as well as one of 5 PRUSA “Values in Action” – Go Forward, Get There, Switch On, Try Makers, and Play What You See. Students get to keep these unique jerseys and can use them to keep track of how many times their team has played in the NYC Rugby Cup! The jerseys, sponsored by Canterbury of North America, are a favorite part of the day.
Let the Games Begin!
Founder Mark Griffin kicked off the day by welcoming teams, family, and fans to Randall’s Island and expressed excitement for groundbreaking features of the day, including having participants ranging in age from 3 through 18 with the introduction of the first ever High School Flag Rugby Division, as well as a “Rugger Tots” class, powered by AIG. The Opening Ceremony was highlighted by an incredible performance of the National Anthem by Kyle Pfortmiller, a baritone with the Metropolitan Opera and proud father of a child in our program! The air was buzzing with excitement as teams dispersed to prepare for kickoff of the first pool play games at 10am.
This year’s tournament featured four divisions, Elementary School, Middle School Co-Ed, Middle School All-Girls and High School, stretching across 6 fields on Randall’s Island! Pool play continued through the morning and as student athletes worked up an appetite they refueled with fresh fruit, granola bars and water thanks to the generous support of Costco. Our player’s bumps and bruises were taken care of thanks to the help of two PTs from Star Physical Therapy, who also facilitated internships for our NY Academy players this summer. The New York – Presbyterian Ambulatory Care Network also provided an ambulance for the day to ensure that the safety and wellness of our participants was a top priority.
Building a Strong Community
— Jennifer F. (@H4WJennifer) June 6, 2015
Former Youth Development Mentor Sean Rafferty and his mentee Will organized a fun fitness challenge in line with their #GetWILLPowered community, whose goal is to raise awareness about childhood obesity and empower people to change their lives to embrace health. Their fitness challenge was huge hit, wish students lining up to get a chance to tumble and roll through the obstacle course.
— Jen Chen (@proptartX) June 6, 2015
- We were thrilled to have some amazing community partners join us this year, including Hope for the Warriors who held a letter writing drive for the fourth consecutive year! Between games students could make a genuine connection with military service members with a good old fashioned letter, and test their strength with a push-up challenge.
The getwillpowered obstacle course! Getwillpowered does NYC #playrugbyusa #hopeforthewarriors #mysticriver #teamdoughbar #rugby #skills #getwillpowered #changeisgood #americangladiator #momentoftruth #startofmyjourney #fitfam #childhoodobesity #saverecess #wheretheresawilltheresaway #howdoyoulikeyourT #sweet #inspire #hardwork #health #eatclean #nevergoinback #havefun #stayactive #mysticriver #goblue #hoshitoshi #getkristenfit
A video posted by @getwillpowered on
Our first ever Rugger Tots class, powered by AIG, was also a hit with the youngsters, parents and coaches alike, with 25 kids 3-7 years old playing fun rugby games with Founder Mark Griffin and our Community Program Manager, Danny. We’re still not sure who had more fun…the kids, or Mark and Danny! This year’s tournament also introduced recycling bins for the first time, in an effort to reduce waste. Thanks to our friends at Grow NYC, who provided receptacles, we were able to recycle over 400 gallons of plastic that would have otherwise been wasted. Thanks to everyone who did their part!
GO FORWARD AWARD RECIPIENTS
Jahira (PS 110)
Jared (PS 282)
Jefferson (Queens VTHS)
Luis (Monroe HS)
Maya (MS 169)
Naomy (St. Ignatius)
Sevaughn (MS 289)
Last year at the AIG NYC Rugby Cup we introduced Green Cards for the first time. Referees and volunteers were on the look out to award them to players showing exceptional sportsmanship during a match or on the sidelines. To continue to build a positive culture around our tournaments we introduced a new way to select recipients of the Go Forward Award, formerly the Frank Garcia “Spirit of Rugby” Award. Rather than selecting a Most Valuable Player based on athletic ability, we were looking for players who exemplified the values of rugby and positive sportsmanship. Before every game on Saturday coaches from each team were asked to pay close attention in the game to identify a player on the opposite team that went above and beyond to uphold and embrace values such as sportsmanship, discipline, fair play, determination and camaraderie. The nominations were tallied throughout the day and the students with the most nominations were presented with the Go Forward Award during the closing ceremony!
The first ever High School Flag Division had three girls teams and four co-ed. Our fabulous intern Talima reflected on the girl’s bracket and was particularly impressed with the Monroe HS squad, who had lost 5-1 in pool play against PRUSA Brooklyn. Facing them again in the Cup Final the Monroe girls switched on and put up an impressive fight to the end, losing narrowly 3-2. The HS boys bracket had impressive plays from all teams, but Field Captain Mallory Woods says her favorite moment from the day came just before the boys Cup Final match. Manhattan RFC and Monroe HS took the field to face off for the title trophy, but the match was delayed for about 10 minutes. Rather an huddling up as individual teams the boys showed incredible camaraderie as they kicked and passed a rugby ball between their squads as they waited for the match to begin. I’m not sure we’d see that kind of positive community anywhere but the NYC Rugby Cup!
Boys Cup Winner – Manhattan RFC
Boys Plate Winner – Queens VTHS
Girls Cup Winner – PRUSA Brooklyn
Girls Plate Winner – Monroe HS
MIDDLE SCHOOL CO-ED
The Middle School Co-Ed Division historically has the most teams competing, with 27 entered this year, representing Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx, New Jersey and upstate New York! The majority of these teams are a part of the New York City Department of Education’s CHAMPS initiative, which promotes student physical activity during the critical years of middle school, and we’d like to thank the DOE for their hard work and continued support in helping us bring flag rugby to more schools in NYC. A big shout out to a few of the teams for whom this was their first NYC Rugby Cup including Shield Winners MS 668 BEES, and MS 556 whose principle Dillon Prime was a former rugby player and CHAMPS coach.
Cup Winner – MS 392
Cup Runner Up – MS 282
Plate Winner – Manhattan RFC U14s
Bowl Winner – MS 362
Shield Winner – MS 668 BEES
ALL GIRLS MIDDLE SCHOOL
The All Girls Middle School Division has been a favorite element of the tournament since it was introduced at the 2012 Cup. We are dedicated to providing equal playing opportunities for boys and girls in all of our programs, and are happy to report that 40% of our program participants nationwide are girls!
Saturday’s matches were full of upsets and surprises as the #1 and #2 seeded teams were knocked out in the finals. This is a credit to the dedication of all the teams, as each year the competition gets closer and closer. JHS 185 is one of our long standing programs, coached by Joanne Olsen for many years before she passed the team on after last year’s Cup. Congratulations to the team for advancing to their very first Cup Final this year, and for playing with a lot of heart. They narrowly lost to PS 282.
Cup Winner – MS 282
Cup Runner Up – IS 185
Plate Winner – MS 202
Bowl Winner – MS 362
The Elementary School Division hosted 20 teams including teams from our Junior Sports Leadership Academies at PS 208 and PS 75, as well as brand new programs the Hoboken Hawks RFC, Harlem Children’s Zone, and The Trinity School. The wide range of experience made for exciting matches as teams played against brand new competitors. PS 282’s Elementary team advanced to the Cup Final, making that their third Cup Final of the day. PS 282 traded tries with Elysian one for one up to the final moments when Elysian was able shut them out as the clock ran out. It was an electrifying game, and both teams played with incredible determination.
Cup Winner – Elysian
Cup Runner Up – PS 282
Plate Winner – Hyde Leadership School
Bowl Winner – PS59
Shield Winner – PS 75
Crown Winner – PS 110
End of an Era
Saturday was bittersweet for the PS 202 rugby team as it marked their very last NYC Rugby Cup. Middle School grades 6-8 have been phased out at this school, and the middle school flag rugby program along with it. PS 202 is one of our longest running programs, started in 2008, and they’ve been fierce competitors and a vital part of our rugby community from the very beginning. We’d like to say thank you to Coach Jen Chabus for her incredible dedication to her team over those 8 years. Through countless early mornings, long bus rides, and blistering hot tournament days her commitment to her student’s success was unmatched. Thank you for everything – you will be missed!
This incredible day was made possible by the support of our generous sponsors, as well as the hard work of 44 dedicated volunteers – thank you to both NY Cares and Credit Suisse for arranging them. We’d also like to say thank you to our PRUSA Staff who dedicated many long hours to making sure this was a rewarding day for everyone involved.
You can check out the Official PRUSA Photo Album below, but some of our favorite photos from the day were shared with us by students and their parents and fans! The Community Photos album on Facebook, has photos and videos from our whole community and you can add yours by posting on Instagram with the hashtag #NYCRugbyCup.
Thank you again to everyone involved in making Saturday such a huge success. We can’t wait to do it all again next year.