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TENA LEE - Hendersonville Standard
Hendersonville could soon be home to the state’s first regulation-size rugby fields after a vote Tuesday to allow a local rugby club to develop land donated to the city by Durham Farms developers.
The developers of the 1,100-home residential development north of Vietnam Veterans Boulevard agreed to donate 75 acres to the city for use as a
park in 2013.
The city’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen voted unanimously on Tuesday to allow Sumner Rugby Football Club (Sumner RFC) a 501c3 non-profit, to build two regulation-size rugby fields on a portion of that land – roughly eight acres, according to Hendersonville Parks Director Andy Gilley.
“We’re excited and thankful the city is willing to give us this opportunity,” said Sumner RFC Board President and coach Brian Silkwood. The club will spend roughly $200,000 to develop the fields in a first of several phases, Silkwood added.
The city will continue to own the land and will maintain the fields once the work is complete, Gilley said.
The proposal was recommended by both the Hendersonville Parks Board and the city’s Public Works Committee.
Parks Board members approved Sumner RFC as an officially recognized club under the Hendersonville Parks Department umbrella in the fall of 2018. Rugby is considered a youth club sport, and is not associated with the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association (TSSAA).
The group has argued that having regulation-sized rugby fields would allow Sumner RFC to host tournaments and bring youth rugby fans to Hendersonville – something it says would have a positive economic impact on the city.
Established in 2011, Sumner RFC has won three state championships: in 2012, 2017 and 2018. Many of their players have moved on to play the sport at colleges like the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, Western Kentucky University and Belmont University.
The local club is affiliated with USA Rugby, a nationwide organization that provides coaches’ training, insurance and organizes the U.S. National team.
The group plans to laser-grade each field as well as provide an irrigation system for the fields, according to Silkwood.
“We’ve been trying for a while to have our own, permanent home here, and this is a big step toward that,” he said.
Sumner RFC players have been playing and practicing on fields at Arrowhead Park.
The next step for the group is to submit a site plan to the city’s Hendersonville Regional Planning Commission for approval.
Silkwood’s wife Vanessa, who is a member of that body, said she will recuse herself from that vote.
In conjunction with the City of Hendersonville, Sumner County Rugby has been given the opportunity to improve the newly donated city park land near Durham Farms subdivision.
The immediate plans for improvement include
1. Site Preparation
2. Laser Graded Fields
3. Field Irrigation
4. Construct a well to irrigate fields reducing future expenses
5. Parking lot
Please consider donating to help support this community project by clicking the Donate Button Below
As of February 2019, $210K has been raised
The estimated cost of Phase 1 is approximately $250K
There will be a donor wall for all donations over $5K
Sumner Rugby Club is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization and all donations are tax deductible
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504 Long Hollow Pike, Goodlettsville, TN 37072