After a season that featured an expanded roster of games, and some new combatants the Nashville Grizzlies RFC are practicing and fund-raising in preparation of June’s international Bingham Cup games.
The team, which is defending its 2008 Bingham Plate win in Ireland, moved into a broader range of Matrix division play this year, taking on five teams in a six-week period during the spring portion of its season. This added straight teams from Hopkinsville and Johnson City to an annual mix that already included gay teams out of Atlanta and Charlotte, and had a positive impact on the players, said Jon Glassmeyer, team president.
“We wanted to play more teams, better teams, so that we could get better ourselves,” Glassmeyer said. “And we accomplished that goal. We didn’t win all our matches, but we got better every time.”
Playing straight teams meant some hesitancy on all sides, but at the end of the day the matches went well, and having more opponents in driving distance will only benefit the Grizzlies going forward.
“Our world has been expanded a little bit, and theirs has as well,” Glassmeyer said. “This will allow us to have more matches in a season, which will help us continue to improve.”
As for Bingham, named for Mark Bingham, a former University of California-Berkeley/San Francisco Fog rugby player who died in the Sept. 11 atacks aboard United Airlines Flight 93, the event currently is set for June 17-20 in Minneapolis, and the team has paid its registration fees and is raising funds to cover travel and hotel expenses.
Once that event wraps up, it’ll be time to head home and prep for the new season in the fall. And with its deepest bench yet, that’ll be easier than in years past.
“Our fourth anniversary was this March, and it was the first time that we had both a majority of our players return and also added new players,” Glassmeyer said. “We now have more than 25 men on the team, and going into the fall that will be amazing. It’s a far cry from a couple of years ago when we had eight regulars — and we thought that was a good thing. Now we practice with the Belmont team, and some of the women’s teams, and can have up to 35 people out there.”
For more information on the Nashville Grizzlies, visit www.grizzliesrugby.org.