Mystic River Rugby Club
|Full name||Mystic River Rugby Club (MRRC)|
|Ground(s)||Pine Banks Park
Malden, MA (Capacity: 1000)
|Coach(es)|| Josh Smith
|League(s)||NERFU Division 1
NERFU Division 2
The Mystic River Rugby Club is a New England Rugby Football Union (NERFU) club, founded in 1974, located in Malden, Massachusetts and Melrose, Massachusetts, who field teams in Division 1 and Division 2 Rugby Union in the United States.
The Early Years (1970's)
The Mystic River Rugby Club was founded in 1974 by 32 members of the Boston Rugby Club, who in true revolutionary spirit, took a great step forward in exercising their independence. These men had long since functioned as a ‘club within a club’ and had developed a distinct style of play both on and off the field. These members were experienced rugby players and immediately the Mystics established a schedule within the first division of New England. They soon became a sought after fixture by teams from all over based on a reputation for hard, fast rugby and an aggressive “joie de vie”.
The club evolved throughout the 1970s with the influx of younger players and Tours to Wales and the former Soviet Union highlighted these years. In 1978, the Mystics became the first American rugby team to be invited to play rugby in the Soviet Union. In the early 1980s the club saw a major turnover, a somewhat generational change, when several new players were attracted from local colleges. Old Boys rugby began to take shape and several of the original Mystics began playing a schedule of "over 30's" rugby. In 1986 the Mystics returned to Malden/Melrose where they were originally incorporated in 1976.
The 1990’s: The Birth of a Dynasty
With several of the club’s players regularly representing New England and the East Coast in representative side play, the Mystics were committed to championship level rugby. Their reputation earned them respect overseas as well, with touring sides, such as the Glamorgan County RFC, seeking a challenge at top level rugby.
In 1989, Mystic River defeated their parent club Boston to win the first of seven straight New England championships. They would go on to win the Northeast Championship that same year. In 1992 the Mystic finished second in the US, losing to the Old Blues from California in the National Finals. The Mystics had established themselves as a force within the national rugby community.
The Mystics Today (2000— )
Over the years, the club has not lost its original style and flair, and now the Mystics enjoy a distinct reputation at the highest level of competitive rugby in the United States. The 2007 season saw the Mystics win their first New England title after twelve years, moving on to take the Northeast Championship in 2008 and a spot in the National Division 1 Sweet 16. In their 2009-2010 season, Mystic River again took both the New England and Northeast Championships, making it through to the quarter-final round of the USA Rugby DI National Championship Series as well as making their first ever appearance in the National Sweet 16 in 7s competition. 2010 also marked the expansion of the Mystic River Youth Rugby Program and the addition of the U-19 Mystic Eagles, who saw success in both 15s and 7s tournaments in their inaugural season.
In 2014, Mystic River merged with cross-town rivals, the Middlesex Barbarians, in an effort to develop the game of rugby in the area. While the details of the merger allowed the forty year old rugby club to retain their name, Middlesex coach Josh Smith took over head coaching duties for the combined club, with former Eagle prop Jake Sprague as forwards coach, and Glen Mannering directing the backs. As 2014 came to a close, the newly formed Mystics went undefeated and were perched comfortably at the top of the Division 1 table, while their D2 counterparts (Mystic Barbarians) finished their season in second place, three points behind division rival New Haven, going into the playoffs and beginning a new era for Mystic Rugby.
Mystic Eagles (USA National Side)
This is a list of Mystic River players who have represented their country with the USA National Rugby team, also known as the Eagles, in rugby fifteens or sevens. Not represented in this list are the many Mystics who have been named to the Eagles' player pools over the years.
- Pono Haitsuka (Flyhalf, 6 Caps) — Made his Eagles Sevens debut at the Dubai leg of the HSBC Sevens World Series and scored his first try in the tournament's Shield Semifinal.
- Alec Montgomery (Fullback, 6 Caps) — Represented the United States from 1986 to 1989.
- Anthony Purpura (Prop, 1 Cap) — Made his Eagle debut against Russia in the 2010 Churchill Cup.
- Richard Tardits (Flanker, 19 Caps) — A former U-21 French international rugby player, Tardits was a walk on for the University of Georgia football team where he held the record for most career sacks (29) until it was broken by David Pollack (Cincinnati Bengals) in 2004. He played in the 1999 Rugby World Cup for the United States after four seasons in the NFL with the New England Patriots and Arizona Cardinals. His debut as an Eagle was in 1993 against Australia.
- Jake Sprague — (Prop, 2 caps) Made Eagles debut vs Uruguay in a Rugby World Cup qualifier.
Notable International Players
This is a list of Mystic River players who have represented other nations in senior rugby fifteens or sevens.
- Declan Brady — Ireland (Rugby League)
- Steve Brain — England
- Molibi Maphanyane - Botswana
- Herman Mostert — South Africa
- Edwin Shimenga — Kenya
- Alfred Uluinayau — Fiji
- Kyle Winter — Indonesia
- New England Champions (1989–1995, 2009-2011)
- Northeast Champions (1989, 1991, 2008, 2010-2011)
- Eastern Champions (1991)
- National Finalist (1992, 1998)
- "Official Mystic River Rugby Website: Club History". Retrieved 21 November 2014.
- "To Russia, with rugby". The Miami News. 24 July 1978. p. 5C. Retrieved 21 November 2014.
- Blake, Andrew (11 October 1998). "Rugby's Mass. appeal: Everyone's welcome to join the fun". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 21 November 2014.
- "Mystic River, Middlesex Merge". Rugby Today. Retrieved November 14, 2014.
- Chipps, Issac (24 July 2014). "Mystic River Rugby and Middlesex Barbarians to merge". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 14 November 2014.
- Official Mystic River Rugby Club Site
- New England Rugby Football Union (NERFU) Site
- USA Rugby Site
- World Rugby Site