By Jean DePlacido
---- — Last weekend’s rain caused the first-ever rugby match at Hurd Stadium in Beverly to be postponed for a week.
Now, the North Shore Rugby Club will host the four-team event this Saturday to raise money for the family of 8-year-old Martin Richard, who was killed in the Boston Marathon bombings.
Martin’s father, Bill, is a graduate of Salem High School, and a fund for the family has been set up by the Salem Five Bank in conjunction with the city of Salem. Richard’s mother, Denise, and sister Jane were also seriously injured as they watched runners cross the finish line on April 15.
“We’re grateful to the city of Beverly for supporting an event that allows us to raise funds for such a meaningful cause while playing the sport we love in a top notch facility,” said NSRFC president Zachary Cook, a Beverly resident. “We have never hosted a tournament on the North Shore and once we began planning it started to snowball, so we decided to bring in three other teams.
“All the rain last Friday forced the city to shut us down,” added Cook. “That’s not going to change things at all; it just means we have an extra week to prepare. What we want to do is give back to the community, and it’s fitting to do something for this particular family with ties to the region.”
Boston Ironsides, Cape Cod, Framingham Exiles and North Shore rugby football clubs will compete in a round-robin tournament, which begins Saturday at 10 a.m. Each team will play the others in a 10 a side format (as opposed to the traditional 15 a side). The top two clubs will compete for the championship.
A $5 donation at the entrance is requested, with all proceeds going to the Martin Richard Family Fund.
“We’re very excited to host it,” said Cook. “What happened at the Boston Marathon was a local tragedy that has turned into a national charity to raise money for the families, and there’s been so much outpouring of generosity. We’re happy to contribute in any way we can, because we’ve called the North Shore home for more than 10 years but never had an event that has made us feel as much a part of the community quite like this.
“We have deep roots here; many members of our club were student-athletes (at local) high schools and colleges. The event is a real homecoming for many. A lot of us grew up here playing football in Hurd Stadium, and the ability to come home and play rugby there is a great feeling.”
NSRFC plays its home games in Lynn, with members coming all the way from the Brighton area to as far north as Topsfield. Players range in age from right out of high school to seniors in their 60s. The club finished second in the New England Rugby Union Cup in Newport, R.I. over Mother’s Day, and in 2010 moved up from Division 3 to Division 2.