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Embarrass River Rugby Club

Embarrass River Rugby Club


The Embarrass River Rugby Club continues to grow. The effort to bring rugby to western Shawano county was led by longtime rugby enthusiast Brian "Moose" Gleason. Gleason and his family hoped to continue participating in rugby as they had in the Appleton area. Gleason has participated as a player, coach, and referee accumulating nearly 20 years of experience in the sport of rugby.

While living and working in Appleton, Gleason played rugby with the Fox Cities Gargoyles. The Gargoyles are a Div. III men's club and Gleason had played for the team for over 12 years and served as club president during their Midwest region playoff run in 2008. In 2012, Gleason aided in rebranding a struggling boys high school team in Appleton and Dragon Rugby Club was born. Brian continued to stay involved in the rugby scene and in 2017 was elected to the Wisconsin Rugby Union board of Directors where he served until the creation of Wisconsin Youth Rugby. He remains on the board of directors and executive committee of multiple statewide rugby organizations.

The rugby club that Brian had helped to resurrect, Dragon Rugby Club of the Appleton Area, expanded into girls high school rugby the following year and then youth flag rugby shortly after. The most recent expansion for the club was into Middle School tackle rugby, in which Gleason's daughter Michaela was participating. All of Gleason's four children participated in Dragon Rugby Club programs and continue in the sport today. 

In the spring of 2018, the Gleason family moved to Split Rock and quickly realized that the limited opportunities for club athletics in the area did not include rugby. Gleason views this as an opportunity to bridge the geographical gap between established youth rugby clubs in the Fox Cities and Green Bay area, with those of the Stevens Point, Wisconsin Rapids, and Wausau areas. The programs that the newly formed Embarrass River Rugby Club (E.R.R.C.) hopes to install include both boys and girls middle school tackle rugby, a youth flag rugby program, and potentially high school boys and girls rugby. This is a grand undertaking considering participation in school-age sports has seen a significant decline in recent years across the country.

Gleason admits it could be a challenge, "I hope the success of the local Thundercatz Football program brings renewed interest in contact sports... I am passionate about this sport and believe rugby could provide an identity for the community". Growing a program where there is currently very limited knowledge of the sport, will indeed be an uphill challenge. Building a knowledge of the sport will be a cornerstone activity in the initial years and Gleason has reached out to area physical education teachers at the elementary and middle school levels about introducing the fundamentals of rugby in gym classes.

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