Grand Traverse Rugby Club is a not for profit organization set up to help grow rugby in Northern Michigan. The 501 (c) 3 organization concentrates on Youth Rugby while also helping our Senior Men’s and Women’s side.
High School Girls
Traverse Bay Blues High School Girls became a part of the Club in 2005 have been top contenders in our league with five time State Championships. We look forward to bringing home the title again this year.
Blues Rugby allows many high school girls to play a team sport that gives them confidence in life; it teaches them teamwork, discipline, and respect. Many of the High School Girl's players go on to play in college and on a women’s team after graduating. Several of our players have also been selected to play at higher levels of rugby, such as Michigan Select Side, Midwest Select Side, and even for our National Team, the United States Eagles. Rugby will give them the self-confidence and assertiveness that will be necessary after leaving high school.
High School Boys
The High School Boys program has been around since 1999. We are always recruiting players in the five county area and beyond.
Blues Rugby allows many high school boys to play a team sport that gives them confidence in life; it teaches them teamwork, discipline, and respect. Many of the players have gone on to play at multiple levels in college, including D1A. Several of our players have also been selected to play at higher levels of rugby, such as Michigan Select Side, Midwest Select Side, and even for our National Team, the United States Eagles. Rugby will give them the self-confidence and assertiveness that will be necessary after leaving high school.
The Traverse Bay Blues Women's team was founded in 2016 by Therese and Lauren Panian. Made up of many former high school Blues players as well as some players coming to our team from college rugby teams. There are also many women discovering this sport for the first time! Since founding and playing on the team, both Therese and Lauren Panian are now playing semi-professional women's rugby in Denver, CO working towards trying to get onto the Lady Eagles National Team for the 2021 Women's Rugby World Cup in New Zealand. The women's team also hosts a "Prom Dress Rugby Match" every year on Father's Day weekend to celebrate our founding and pride in participating in this sport. It is a friendly match where everyone is welcome to play.
The Traverse Bay Blues Senior Men’s side was founded in 1973 and currently competes in USA Rugby’s Midwest Geographic Union’s Division III Northern Conference. Through the years over 2,000 players have played for the Blues, including players that have gone on to play internationally, in the MLR, and earn multiple caps for the US national team, USA Rugby’s Eagles, Phil Thiel and Angus McClellan II. The current Blues Men field a team comprised of a mix of experienced former high school and college players, senior men’s players, and an infusion of talented new players from all across the 6 county area. The Blues Men also founded the Cherry Pit Rugby Tournament that will be making its return in 2020.
Local Men’s Rugby Team Brings Michigan Cup Home
The Michigan Cup, formerly The Michigan Cherry Cup, has a long history in the Traverse City area and Blues Rugby Club, dating back to its founding in 1973 as the Cherry Pit Rugby Tournament. The Michigan Cup serves as the season opening tournament for the Michigan Rugby Union’s Division 3, which contains 12 teams spread across 2 conferences. The tournament has for years brought hundreds of players, fans, and rugby enthusiasts to the area each summer for invigorating competition and local tourism. In 2015 Michigan Rugby reformatted the Michigan Cup host structure to cycle between various hosting cities for 2-year terms. Since the restructuring, the tournament has been hosted by Traverse City in 2015, Lansing in 2016-2019. Due to complications with the completion of their new field, the 2021 host had withdrawn and thereby reopened the selection process.
At the Michigan Rugby Union’s Annual General Meeting this past Sunday, Blues representative and new head coach, Derek Braun, put the Blues and their field in Garfield Township into the potential list of 3 possible hosts. After receiving a majority of the votes, the Blues and Traverse City were awarded the Tournament for 2021. When reached for comment, Coach Braun said, “It’s a great opportunity to show Michigan Rugby the new home we have created with our partners at Garfield Township, and to bring teams from all over the state to the beautiful Traverse City area”.
The last year has been difficult for everyone, and the rugby community is no exception. The Traverse City Blues have been itching to get back to rugby activities, as they have been unable to hold conventional practices or competitive matches for a year’s time. As an outdoor sport, rugby is easily consumed as a safe spectator event and the return of the Michigan Cup to Traverse City has sparked a new wave of eagerness among the team and community. The official date of the tournament has yet to be set, but the Michigan Cup Tournament will be held in the early portion of August.
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Board of Directors
Josh Benghauser - Club President
Trina Girardin - Secretary
Mike Amon - Treasurer
Bob Brick - Co-Fundraising Chair
Tim Brick - Co-Fundraising Chair
Derek Braun - Men's Head Coach
Tania Santos- Women's Head Coach
Cornel Olivier - HS Boys Coach
Paul Fitzsimmons - At Large
Anthony Dell'Acqua - At Large
Andrew Smith - At Large