Girls National High School Rugby Championships coming to Pittsfield this weekend
PITTSFIELD -- Teams from all over the country will join the scrum at Taconic High School this weekend for the Girls National High School Rugby Championships.
The field will include 16 club teams from 10 states, including host Berkshire United. Each team will play two games on Saturday and one on Sunday. The teams have been split into two eight-team divisions. The National Girls Coaches Committee determined the seeds based on the teams' 2014 results.
Division I includes experienced West Coast and Midwest club teams and one team from Maryland. The top two seeds are Fallbrook, Calif., and Wisconsin's Divine Savior Holy Angels, the winners of nine of the last 10 national titles.
Division II consists of less-experienced teams, mostly from the East Coast. Fourth-seeded Berkshire will face No. 5 Kingston, N.Y., at 11:10 a.m. Saturday. The winner will face the winner of the game between top-seeded Pleasanton, Calif., and No. 8 State College, Pa., at 3:30 p.m.
The two teams in each division who win twice on Saturday will meet for the division championships on Sunday at 12:15 p.m. on the two fields being used. Third-, fifth- and seventh-place honors will be decided in games earlier in the day.
The Berkshire United girls team was formed just two years ago and includes high school students from nearly every Berkshire County school.
Club President and Tournament Director David Colli said he's been preparing since August, a process that has involved providing hotel accommodations for the incoming teams while also finding sponsors and volunteers to help the tournament run smoothly.
"It's been a process, that's for sure," Colli said. "We've been working at this for about a year. ... We've got incredible sponsors and the community's been really supportive."
Colli said the most challenging part of organizing a tournament of this size and magnitude was making sure everyone involved was on the same page.
"There are so many moving parts to everything that's going on," he said. "The hard part was finding the right way to manage it all and the proper procedure to handle it."
The opportunity to host a national-level tournament is rare for a mostly rural area like Berkshire County, especially one that is relatively new to the world of rugby.
The ability to travel to other national tournaments is difficult for a team the size of Berkshire, because it lacks the travel budget of a sponsored club. Colli said that, by serving as host, his team will have a chance to be exposed to a level of talent that it wouldn't normally meet.
Having a tournament that runs smoothly, and fielding a competitive team, will increase the chances of future tournaments returning to the Berkshires.
"It gives the kids in community a great opportunity to play at a high level," he said. "It also opens up the doors of opportunity for college coaches scouting them."
Tickets for adults are $10 each day, and tickets are $5 for high school students. Children younger than 14 are admitted free.
To reach Akeem Glaspie:
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On Twitter: @THEAkeemGlaspie.
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