Without food, is a rugby match a true rugby match?? In fact, for many mums, dads and players, it’s the best part of the sport! As Liz Weinstein, Avon Rugby Golden Swarm coach (Avon, IN), states, “I think the social part after the game is one reason we have returning players and continue to grow as a young team.”
In an earlier post, I talked about the social and what we do for our team. But I wanted to know… what do other teams do? In an effort to learn more, not only did I become quite hungry, but I found out that everyone enjoys talking about food! And a great time to plan your social food is now, before the season starts (at least for us Midwesterners!).
The social is the part after the match that provides an opportunity for camaraderie between the hosts and guests, centered around the breaking of bread. At the adult level, a social often includes going out after the match to a local watering hole or restaurant. Sam DiFilippo helps coach a local men’s club, the Fort Wayne Rugby Club. He says that sometimes a team will offer food at the field, but it “sometimes … doesn’t meet the needs of a real social, depending on the facilities and the weather.” For youth and high school teams, the socials are generally right on the sidelines of the field.
The basic menu involves a main dish (monster sub sandwich, hot dog/brat, pizza, etc.), a side or two, and a drink. Several clubs I spoke with offer pizza, chips and a drink – it’s easy, delivered hot and fresh, and minimal food prep is required. The Bishop Dwenger Saints (Fort Wayne, IN) moms like to have fruit available, usually bananas and oranges, some sort of protein/granola bar, a dessert of some sort, like cookies or brownies and water bottles.
Trevor Cracknell, coach at Warsaw High School in Warsaw, IN, says standard fair for his Tigers is pizza or Wal-Mart fried chicken. He told me of one of his rugby parents who owned a commercial BBQ and provided pulled pork with all the trimmings for a day when they hosted a total of 5 teams. Yum!! [Now, Trevor is from England, so of course this led to a discussion of the possibility of true English fish and chips for after a match. We’re working on a suitable recipe, with some help from James Harrington, and we’ll keep you posted.]
One of the best testaments to the game and social comes in the form of a compliment. Curt Trout, head coach of the Fishers High School Tigers in Central Indiana, says that some of the best socials they attend are at Brownsburg High School, home of the Brownsburg Bulldogs. Curt attributes part of their continual success to the efforts of Liz and Guy Clossey. Although their son graduated several years ago, they continue to be involved with the club and help with socials. Last year, Fishers played LaSallette at Brownsburg, and Liz and Guy helped feed the team. As Curt says, “they are incredible people”. Indeed!
My food journey also took me to Boca Raton, Florida. Carrie Dowling, aka “Carrie the Rugby Mom” as she introduces herself, is involved with the Boca Raton Junior Buccaneers Rugby Club. While they often do pizza for the youngsters, they sometimes play teams that provide a full Argentinian BBQ! As Carries says, “It is amazing! They have large grills they tow behind their cars and trucks. Flank steak served hot off the grill on fresh bread with chips and a drink. Our parents get excited when we know we are going to these clubs!”
Of course, every club has to operate within its budget constraints. Not everyone will be able to do a full Argentinian BBQ, and some clubs will opt for homemade items. Things like pizza and subs can also be a great low-cost main dish. Last year was my first as the parent of a girl rugger, and the Bishop Dwenger Lady Saints had the great fortune of playing the Avon Rugby Golden Swarm for their very first match, on a cold, cloudy, wet, and windy St. Patrick’s Day. Thankfully, the social made the day sunny!
Parents Dawn Cook and her husband, an England-born-and-raised rugger, were instrumental in putting together the socials for the first season of the Avon team. Dawn told me about this first social: “Since the game was on St. Patrick’s Day, and we enjoy socializing on that day, my husband and I felt what a great theme. I made several trays of shepherd’s pie and three pots of beef stew; along with that we had Hawaiian rolls, green Gatorades and for dessert my kids decorated green cupcakes with St. Patrick’s decorations. I purchased green and white decorations and Hawaiian leis. It was fun and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves.” I loved this so much that I took a picture of the Avon parents serving food – they were all so nice and I look forward to seeing them this year!
I’d LOVE to hear what’s being served up at your rugby socials! Any new food ideas? All this food talk has made me hungry! In the meantime, remember – while it’s all about the food, it’s also about the smiles on the kids’ faces – and those are abundant at socials!