Brooklyn Boro

Hey Brooklyn, ‘Try’ rugby for a change

New Team Kicks Off at Midwood Field on Saturday

June 3, 2014 By John Torenli, Sports Editor Brooklyn Daily Eagle
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There’s a new game in town. And it’s a mash-up of a couple of very old ones.

Brooklyn fans eager to follow a local team now that the NBA’s Nets have been sent home for the summer can show up at Midwood Field on Saturday afternoon at 4 p.m. for an up-close look at the Brooklyn Kings, first-year members of the USA Rugby League.

“It’s a little different than Rugby,” noted Matt Bailey, a Kings player as well as the team’s founder. “It’s a hybrid of the traditional 15-man rugby and American football.”

The Kings, comprised mostly of first-year players from across the five boroughs and a couple of veterans from Australia as well as the United Kingdom, will be taking on the Boston 13s after fighting to a 30-30 draw last weekend against the Rhode Island Rebellion.

“Instead of 15 players, there are 13,” Bailey went on to explain. “It’s a faster game, 13 linebackers vs. 13 running backs playing both sides of the ball in unblocked contests. [You get] six downs to score a Try. If not, you have to kick to the other team. There’s no forward passing, no first-down rules.”

The Try, of course, is the sport’s equivalent of a touchdown, and the 26 participants who will lock horns on Saturday will be “try”-ing their best not only to win the contest, but also to inspire youngsters to give the new game a shot.

“Our focus has shifted to engaging the local community,” said Bailey, who spent 20 seasons playing Rugby in Australia before pursuing his dream of building his own team following the completion of a degree in sports management.

“We’re going down this week to formally involve the students [at Midwood High School] in the game. Within the next season or two, we want to start a youth program. We want to begin a route that some of the other clubs [in the USA Rugby League] have taken.”

Managed by Rugby veteran Nick Youngquest, whom many New Yorkers may recognize as the handsome face and chiseled frame of Paco Rabbane fragrances, the Kings are scheduled to play three home games during their first season in the league, which is staging its fourth campaign here in the states.

The Kings will also host the Philadelphia Fight at Midwood on June 21 and take on the Rebellion here on July 19.

In all, the USA Rugby League will have 11 teams competing from Boston to Brooklyn to Jacksonville from now until Aug. 23, when the University of North Florida hosts the National Championship Final on its campus.

Playing as a representative of the powerhouse Castleford Tigers of the UK Super League, the Kings are hoping to provide a “festival-type atmosphere” for local sports enthusiasts.

The franchise will even unveil its own cheer squad on Opening Day as the newly formed Brooklyn Royals Dance Team makes its debut.

“In a few short months, this has sort of snowballed,” revealed Bailey, who is hoping for a crowd of several hundred for the opening game. “Sports business is a passion of mine. It’s my little baby. I also work full-time here in advertising. To see this group of young American athletes play a game from back home is wonderful. We’ve created a brotherhood here.”

The Kings already have a pair of sponsors – Sixpoint Brewery and the Savory Pie Guy – and are promising those who show up for the opener an opportunity to celebrate, or drown their sorrows, with the squad following Saturday afternoon’s match at Kent Ale House in Williamsburg.
“We’ve already generated a lot of interest world wide, selling membership packages in Australia, New Zealand, UK and even Dubai. Now our focus has shifted to engaging the local community,” added Bailey.

The combination of hard-tackling, end-to-end action, the occasional nose bleed and savory pies mixed with ale should be enough to engage most Brooklynites searching for a sport to call their very own.

Tickets are $5 for walk-ups and kids 15 and under get in free.

So give it a “Try”.

For more information on the Kings and the USA Rugby League, log on to

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