Field is set for national high school rugby tournament in Pittsfield
The 16-team field has been set for the Girls High School Rugby National Championship Tournament, which will be played May 17-18 at Taconic High School.
The host Berkshire United team is a part of the field, and will have the opportunity to increase its national profile over two days against the top club teams in Division I and II from across the country.
David Colli, Berkshire United club president, said the idea of applying to host the tournament came from wanting to compete at a national level, but not being able to enter as many tournaments due to travel and other expenses.
"Last year, the national tournament was in Racine, Wis., and the cost was about $16,000," Colli said. "We weren't prepared to raise that type of money. As a long shot, I applied to host the tournament around Thanksgiving. We found out before New Year's that we were going to get it. It's really awesome for the community."
Colli said Pittsfield Mayor Daniel L. Bianchi and the city's parks department have been very supportive during the ongoing planning for the tournament.
In addition to sending out acceptance letters to all the teams competing, Colli is working to secure hotel space for visiting teams, sponsors, transportation and referees, in addition to the many other tasks that go into planning for the tournament this size.
"There's a lot of work involved with putting the tournament on and doing it on a nice level," Colli said. "As a young team, to play on a national level is impressive. The girls last year did a good job of learning to play at a national or regional level."
The United will also rely on volunteers to help with sign-in, concession, parking and other duties. Colli said members of the Smith College, Westfield State and Williams College rugby teams have already expressed interest in volunteering.
Colli said Taconic, which hosted the 2012 state meet, is a great place to host the tournament, and the school has "awesome fields."
Formed two seasons ago, the Berkshire United girls team is made up of players from Drury, Hoosac Valley, Mount Everett, Mount Greylock, Pittsfield, Taconic and Wahconah high schools. Berkshire finished in the top two in Massachusetts in each of its first two seasons, going undefeated and unscored upon until last year's state tournament.
Regionally, Berkshire plays against clubs from Lincoln, North Quincy, Worcester and Essex County, to name a few. The club also travels to Vermont, Rhode Island, New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Maryland to compete in tournaments.
By competing in the national tournament, Berkshire will have a chance to play teams from teams as far west as Washington and California, in addition to Midwest teams from Ohio and Wisconsin.
"It's really an honor to get invited to national tournaments," Colli said. "It shows the dedication the kids put in. It's a validation of the program. Work hard and expect success, and good things will happen."
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