July 22, 2021 By Christian Murray
A Queens-based rugby club that was founded in 2019 is about to kick off its 2021 season and its leaders are currently recruiting players.
The club, based out of Astoria, has around 60 active members and is called the Queens Rugby Club, the first rugby club in the borough to incorporate “Queens” as part of its name.
“We are looking for new members, and would like to get more people from central and eastern Queens,” said Michael Cotto, an Astoria resident who founded the club. He said that most of the club’s members live in Astoria, Long Island City and Maspeth.
Cotto said that the club had a terrific inaugural season but his quest to build up the club suffered since the 2020 season was called off due to COVID-19. He said that while membership is strong he is looking to bring on new players.
The team is diverse, he said, consisting of American-born residents as well as foreigners from nations such as Argentina, Paraguay, Colombia, France, Australia, England and Ireland. The sport, known for its physicality, was founded in England in the 19th Century and shares many similarities to American Football. There is, however, one notable exception—the players don’t wear pads.
Many Americans were introduced to the sport at college, although some are new to the game.
“We teach people the game and some have become superstars,” Cotto said, who grew up on Long Island and was introduced to the sport in high school by an exchange student from Italy.
The club is holding a meeting at Rivercrest Restaurant, located at 33-15 Ditmars Ave. in Astoria, at 5 p.m. on Saturday and is calling for people interested in joining to show up.
The club will start weekly practices for the fall season on Wednesday, July 28. Practices will be held by the new track at Astoria Park each Wednesday between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m.
The games will take place on Saturdays throughout the Tri-state area, with home games on Randall’s Island. The first game will take place in early September.
The team has a number of sponsors, such as Rivercrest, Big aLICe Brewing Co. and Ocean Hill Apple Brandy in Brooklyn.
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