Vampire Sand Rugby Tourney May 14 on Flora-Bama Beach
After a two year pandemic break, the Vampire Sand Rugby Tourney returns to the Flora-Bama Beach on May 14, with up to eight men’s teams and four women’s teams playing round robin games of five aside rugby beginning around 9 a.m. The Pensacola Aviators and Battleship Mobile will both send two sides, and Baton Rouge and Gulfport are also sending men’s teams. Pensacola, Mobile, Panama City and a touring side, the Harpooners, will enter women’s teams. (Info: 251-721-3956).
A fundraiser for the Leukemia/Lymphoma Society, the tourney will include a blood drive (thus, the name). Each team and most of the teams’ followers will donate blood following their last game, and the team with the most blood donated on their behalf will earn a special award.
Dale Wood, with help from his twin brother, Dean, first organized the tourney to honor Alex Sharland, president of the Deep South Rugby Referees Assn., while Sharwood was going through treatments for leukemia in 2019.
“Alex will miss the tourney because he is on assignment from USA Rugby helping with an international match. He will not be with us in person. But he is still with us. So, that’s a good thing,’’ said Dale Wood. “‘Give Blood. Play Rugby’ is our slogan. We want everybody to come and give blood if they can, whether they are rugby players on not.
“This is a social event. That is our mind set going in,’’ he added. “We want this to be a celebration of rugby and kinship. Everybody knows somebody that plays rugby. And we invite those people to come out and experience what is always there when rugby players get together. Hopefully, they will want to give a pint of blood as well.’’
Team rosters will be limited to eight and games will consist of two five minute halves in the Flora-Bama sand.
“Ideally, we will be able to get in four matches an hour, but we’ll just have to see how it goes,’’ Wood said. “We are really going to encourage everybody that comes out to pack the blood bus. They were very pleased with the response last time. We want to smash that record.’’