BY PAUL LEIGHTON
---- — BEVERLY — For the last dozen years, the North Shore Rugby Football Club has played its games in relative anonymity on fields across the region.
On June 8, the club will attempt to showcase the rugged sport at one of the area’s best sports venues while benefiting the family of Boston Marathon bombing victim Martin Richard.
The North Shore Rugby Invitational will be held at Hurd Stadium, with all profits going to the Salem Five Bank’s Richard Family Fund.
Eight-year-old Martin Richard of Dorchester was killed in the marathon bombings and his mother and sister were seriously injured. His father, Bill Richard, is originally from Salem.
“A large group of us was at the Red Sox game for the marathon and so many of us were affected by that whole situation,” said Zachary Cook, the president of the North Shore Rugby Football Club.
“With the Richard family having ties to Salem and the Salem Five starting a charity, we thought this was a great way to have a tie to a larger charity that really, really needs help.”
This will be the first rugby match ever held at Hurd Stadium, best known as the home of the Beverly High School football team.
Cook is hoping the prominent site will attract a larger crowd and help to promote the sport, which has a passionate and loyal following but is not one of America’s mainstream sports.
“We’ve been on the North Shore for about 12 years but we’ve sort of bounced around homes,” he said. “Technically we’re based out of Salem, but we play our matches in Lynn on a less-than-beautiful pitch. We’ve always looked for better places to play. We want to treat this as an opportunity to introduce rugby to the community.”
The North Shore Rugby Football Club is a nonprofit organization that has done charitable work before, including using its brawny players to set up for the Beverly Bootstraps Thanksgiving party and the Lynn Police Department’s Christmas party.
The club has a men’s league with 44 players as well as youth clubs for boys and girls with 47 players. The men’s team was moved up to Division 2 in 2011 and finished second in the New England Rugby Football Union Club in 2013.
Many of its players are touring Iceland this week with matches against Iceland’s national team.
Cook, a 31-year-old Beverly resident, started playing rugby at St. Michael’s College and continued to play when he studied in Ireland.
“I played every sport as a kid, and what I love about rugby is that every type of person has a role,” Cook said. “Rugby is one of those sports that embraces every type of person. I felt like I came home when I played rugby for the first time.”
Staff writer Paul Leighton can be reached at 978-338-2675 or email@example.com.
If you go What: North Shore Invitational 10s Tournament When: Saturday, June 8, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Where: Hurd Stadium, 105 Essex St., Beverly Admission: $5, with all profits going to Salem Five Bank's Richard Family Fund Hosted by: North Shore Rugby Football Club Tournament participants: Cape Cod RFC, Boston Ironsides RFC, Framingham Exiles RFC