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The Journals are the premier publications for high-quality, hyperlocal news and advertising in Monmouth County, New Jersey

Nov 22, 2021

Central Monmouth Rugby Club Recruiting for Spring Season

By Tim Morris

Photo courtesy of Central Monmouth Rugby Club. Central Monmouth Rugby is bringing the sport to youth in Monmouth County. The club starts its second season next spring.

The Central Monmouth Rugby Club has a simple aim. “Our goal is to promote rugby in Central Monmouth and attract kids who are interested in learning the sport,” said Anuk Fernando, one of the founders of Central Monmouth Rugby. He added that providing a safe and fun environment is a priority for the coaches.

The club was started this past spring and, by the fall, was hosting its inaugural tournament at Cross Farm Park in Holmdel. Teams from Morristown and Franklin attended the event.

Central Monmouth Rugby fields both boys’ and girls’ teams in Under 12, Under 14 and High School divisions. The teams are called “The Hive.”

Membership in the club grew from nine in the spring to 22 in the fall, and coaches hope to increase the number for spring 2022. Lou Rebimbas, coach of Central Monmouth, is confident that the sport can sell itself to area youth. Afterall, it sold itself to him. Rebimbas played high school football at Middletown High School North and college ball for Montclair State University. After graduating MSU and joining the workforce, the ex-linebacker was looking to stay in shape.

“I needed something to do,” he explained. “I wanted to stay active. I heard about a rugby club in Union and decided to give it a try. I loved it. I’ve been playing ever since.”

Rebimbas and other rugby enthusiasts like Fernando decided it was time to bring the sport closer to home and offer opportunities for youth in Monmouth County to learn.

“We started from the ground floor teaching the game,” Rebimbas said.

What has made Rebimbas confident that participation numbers will grow is what the club’s members told him this year.

“Players have come up to me and said they really like [rugby] a lot, more than they thought,” he noted. “They had a positive experience.”

The sport has attracted players from across the athletic arena – football, lacrosse, hockey and wrestling – because of its non-stop action. Unlike a number of sports, rugby is not expensive to compete in. Players just need a scrum cap, mouth piece and cleats. Rebimbas pointed out that club stresses safety first.

“We teach them safety, the right way to tackle,” he said. “There’s no launching.”

Rugby, Rebimbas remarked, is more than a sport.

“You develop friendships, and people bond. There’s a rugby community,” he explained. “We want to be a club you belong to, not a team you play for.”

A long-term goal for the club is fielding girls’ and boys’ high school teams. If there’s enough participation, it could force high schools to introduce programs. Rebimbas, whose son Christian and daughter Annemarie are club members, pointed out that rugby has more college scholarship opportunities for girls than most college sports. 

Rebmimbas and his assistant coaches, Daniek Oldroyd, Pat Moroney and Micheael Flaherty, are certified by USA Rugby. George Lazarou and Fernando are the operations support team.

The club participates in the Spring and Fall Tackle Rugby League sanctioned by Rugby New Jersey.

Anyone interested in joining the club in the spring (no experience required) or finding out more about the sport can email info@centralmonmouthrugby.com or call 909-489-5538.