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Fred Miles Watson/staff photo Renegades compete for All-Navy rugby slots
Military rugby teams continue to flourish throughout the Armed Forces with the U.S. Armed Forces Sports Council recognizing it as a sport in 2000. Locally, the Bangor Renegades have a stout history of talented players being selected for higher competition and that’s true in 2009 for three Navy petty officers.
Culinary Specialist 1st Class Richard Hartwick, Aviation Boatswain’s Mate 2nd Class Luca Murgia and Machinist’s Mate 2nd Class Hank Woodward were selected to attend the 2009 service selection camps for Rugby in Florida taking place this month.
Woodward, stationed at the Intermediate Maintenance Facility at Bangor, says he is ready for the challenge.
“It feels good to be selected so far, but I haven’t made it yet. We’ll be trying out in Jacksonville and then on to Fort Benning for a week, providing we make the first cut,” said Woodward who has been playing rugby for about five years.
“I played a little bit in high school and practiced with the Arkansas State University college team to stay in shape. I’ve been playing for about a year with this team,” he added.
Many worldwide sports, including football, derive from rugby, a sport that has been played for over 150 years.”
If they make the cut, then it’s off to Georgia where the newly formed All Navy team ratchets their play up a notch or two, playing one game each against the Marines, Coast Guard, Air Force and Army for the Armed Forces Sports Council Military Rugby championship.
Murgia, stationed aboard USS John C. Stennis’ V-1 Division, welcomes the competition.
“It feels awesome to get selected and to be playing at this high level,” he said. “Guys are coming from all over the world to play. It’s a fun experience.”
“I started playing when I was stationed at Pensacola. A Marine buddy of mine told me I should come out and play and I did. Then I got stationed up here and got involved with the Renegades.”
This is the second time Murgia has competed in All Navy Rugby.
Richard Hartwick is stationed at Bachelor Housing at Naval Base Kitsap- Bangor.
“I transferred up here to Washington and missed football tryouts, but I didn’t want to sit around and waste my off duty time while on shore duty,” Hartwick said. “So I looked online and found out about this team and it said no experience necessary, will train, and it sounded good to me.”
He added that he reviews game tapes and use the Internet to learn more and more about the sport.
Locally, the Bangor Renegades play only other military teams in the region, but members also play in the local Kitsap Rugby Football Union, a division III team also named the Renegades, who play teams in the Pacific Northwest and Canada.
Coach’s assistant Jared Spurlock, a veteran rugby player, says the Renegades has always been a good starting point for Navy guys.
The Kitsap Rugby Football Union is dedicated to the promotion, encouragement and growth of Rugby Union play in the Kitsap area. KRFU currently fields four teams; a mens Division III team, a brand new women’s team, a U19 boys team and a U19 Girls team.
Players of all skill levels, including new players, are always welcome.