The Golden Isles Rugby Football Club wants all local rugby players to participate in next month's anniversary bash.
In the last weekend of August, the local rugby team, known as the Hammerheads, will celebrate its 40th anniversary in the Golden Isles. The club launched in 1976, and since its inception, hundreds of local rugby players have played for or against the squad.
When the Hammerheads gather at the end of the month, they want anyone who played in a match with the team to attend.
"We want all the old guys and young guys alike that have either played with Golden Isles or against Golden Isles for the last 40 years," Bill Foster, a longtime Hammerhead, said. "We'd like to see everybody show up, and that would be several hundred people."
To properly observe the anniversary, the Hammerheads — and anybody nearby who plays rugby — will partake in a three-day weekend of fun, socializing and, of course, rugby.
The Hammerheads will play in a Friday golf tournament on Aug. 26 at Jekyll Island's Great Dunes course. The rugby group will tee off at 2 p.m. and are making sure to welcome golfers with "all levels of skill." To follow, the group will have a social hour starting at 6 p.m. at Wee Pub on Jekyll Island.
Aug. 27 will be the primary day for the rugby competition. Matches will take place at Howard Coffin Park, which has been the home of the Hammerheads for the entirety of the club's 40 years. The Young Boys match will take place at 1 p.m. The Old Boys match will immediately follow it at 2 p.m.
Event organizers are open to playing "7s" or "15s," which designates the number of players on each side. The seven-player games offers a much higher pace, and likely more scoring. But, frankly, it'll wear rugby players out, so halves are shorter. The 15-player game allows for more rest, but requires an ample number of players and substitutes.
The size of the games will be determined by how many former Hammerheads and foes return for the 40th anniversary festivities. Much like the first day of the weekend, there will be a nightly social at Zachry's Steak and Seafood. Aug. 28 will be a beach day for the Hammerhead families to enjoy on Jekyll Island.
"We tried to keep it simple because the rugby guys need it to be kept simple," Foster said.
The 40th anniversary celebration comes in an important year for the sport, as well.
For the first time since 1924, rugby returns to the Summer Olympics in Rio De Janeiro. At the Games, rugby will be played in a "7s" format. The United States defeated France 17-3 in the 1924 Olympics. Add that to last year's World Cup and college championships on TV, and the sport of rugby is as big as its ever been in the world.
"Rugby has never been more popular in the world," Foster said.
The growth of the sport, and desire to continue that in the future, is why Foster and the Hammerheads are encouraging any local athlete interested in the sport to attend the anniversary weekend.
The weekend fits nicely in the calendar, in between the September start to the fall season and the return of classes at College of Coastal Georgia, a location Foster wants to help grow the sport. The Hammerheads have intentions to work with the college to have a "little brother team" that can have a symbiotic relationship with the Golden Isles Rugby Football Club.
"We'll teach them how to play, and they'll provide players for us," Foster said.
For more information, contact Foster at 912-571-2532.