The Atlantic Cup, a tournament jointly organized by the Wilmington and University of Delaware rugby clubs, is celebrating its fortieth anniversary this year.
Held on the third weekend of August, the tournament offers participants a weekend of sea, sun, fun and rugby. With the fields located beside the ocean in Cape Henlopen Park, and a short drive from the beach towns of Lewes, Dewey and Rehoboth, the tournament has been popular among rugby clubs in the Mid-Atlantic. This year, however, club officials are hoping the tournament will be bigger than ever before.
Wilmington president Kevin Barry said that the tournament organizers have individually invited certain teams to come to the tournament, hoping that their Men’s Premier Division will be ultra competitive.
“There are some fantastic teams competing in MARFU. This year alone, Rocky Gorge won a national championship while Philly-Whitemarsh reached the championship game. Doylestown and Brandywine have also played in a national championship game in recent years. So we have reached out to teams like this, teams that have been regularly making playoffs in the last few years, and asked them to come to the Atlantic Cup. We want the tournament to be fun for everyone, but we also want to see some good, competitive rugby.”
The Atlantic Cup also has a Men’s Open Division, a Woman’s Division, and an Old Boy’s Division, and as with the Premier Division, Wilmington have reached out to certain teams that they believe would be competitive in these divisions.
The tournament organizers also believe that the tournament offers all teams a chance to get some rugby under their belts before league play begins. Barry, originally from Ireland, said he was surprised to see that most clubs begin their competitive season without any pre-season games.
“Last year we began our season by playing Doylestown. It was a game that had major playoff implications, and it just struck me as a little unusual that it was the first game of the season for both teams. That is why we think the Atlantic Cup offers a great opportunity for all teams to come work out some of the kinks, integrate new players and run some plays before the serious business begins in September.”
“At the same time, there is a lot of fun to be had at the Atlantic Cup. The fields are located right off the beach, so players can take a dip after a long, hard, day of rugby. The beach towns have a vibrant night life and are only a couple of miles from the field, so the tournament is a great blend of the social and serious sides of rugby.”
There will also be individual competitions at the tournament. A goal kicking competition will be held, with prizes for the best male and female goal kicker. There will also be a raffle with various pieces of rugby equipment on offer.
The Atlantic Cup will be held on August 18th and 19th in Lewes, Delaware. Further information can be found on the Wilmington RFC website.