By Neil Morris
Cary, N.C. Theres an adage that says, “Football (soccer) is a gentleman’s game played by ruffians, and rugby is a ruffian’s game played by gentlemen.” This June, the Triangles preeminent soccer facility, WakeMed Soccer Park, will welcome international rugby onto its grounds with a trip to the Olympics on the line.
On Wednesday, Carys Town Council approved use of the Park as the host site for 2015 North American and the Caribbean Rugby Association (NACRA) Mens and Womens Sevens Championships. The Council also appropriated $115,000 to cover anticipated costs for the tournaments, which will be reimbursed 100 percent from the Triangle Sports Commission (TSC) pursuant to an agreement that will finalized between the Town and TSC.
The NACRA Sevens Championships are tentatively scheduled to take place June 11-14, with Thursday and Friday designated as practice days and Saturday and Sunday for competition. The top 12 mens and womens national teams across North America and the Caribbean are expected to participate in their respective tournament. Countries eligible to send teams are the United States, Bahamas, Barbados, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Canada, Cayman Islands, Curacao, Guyana, Jamaica, Mexico, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago and Turks and Caicos.
The added importance of this event is that its designated as the 2015 World Rugby Regional Association Sevens Championships for NACRA. Rugby sevens is being added to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games — the first time rugby in any form has been included in the Olympics since 1924. The winners of the mens and womens championships in June will automatically qualify for the 2016 Summer Olympics.
USA Rugby was selected as the host country for these Olympic qualifying tournaments and according to Hill Carrow, CEO of the Triangle Sports Commission, approached TSC about holding the event in the Triangle.
[USA Rugby] likes our area, theyre familiar with the soccer park and think that it would be a great location, Carrow said. They know TSC is one of 10 Community Olympic Partners with the U.S. Olympic Committee so that means we have a strong focus on promoting and supporting Olympic sport activities.
While WakeMed Soccer Park was one of two facilities being considered to host this event, Carrow says USA Rugby had already performed a site visit to the park and the Towns approval was the final step to securing the tournament.
We dont need to do anything else at this point, Carrow said. USA Rugby had basically awarded it to us, assuming that if things went well with the Town Council that it would all be confirmed. We have to finish some agreements between [TSC], the Town and USA Rugby, but its a done deal. The event is coming here.
The tournament will be a ticketed event and Carrow said it will likely be broadcast, although hes uncertain whether it will be over-the-air or streamed online.
Olympic qualifying rugby coming to WakeMed in June