The Washington DC Major League Rugby expansion team will be called the Old Glory DC, and unfurled itself to the world today, with partners Chris Dunlavey and Paul Sheehy at the helm.
Dunlavey, who is a partner in the management firm Brailsford & Dunlavey, and Paul Sheehy, former USA Eagle, strong supporter of the Gonzaga HS program, and owner of Sheehy Auto Stores, lead the business side of a team that has been granted franchise rights for a large area in the Mid-Atlantic.
After considering hundreds of team name ideas submitted by fans and advisors, the club selected Old Glory DC as its name.
“The response to our Name the Team challenge was incredible, with close to 1,000 fans participating,” co-owner Sheehy. “We had so many great names to choose from, but in the end, we felt we had to choose a name that could only really work in Washington, and that is inclusive of all of the diverse members of our community.”
“And we think our fans will see the deeper meaning,” added co-owner Dunlavey. “Yes, it’s a flag, but Old Glory has been places. It’s battle-scarred. It’s weather-beaten. But still it flies proud. It symbolizes all the strength, resilience, commitment, and substance over style that are the hallmarks of rugby and, for that matter, the American character.”
DC Old Glory is the MLR team for the area from Philadelphia to Richmond, VA, and the club has a franchise area west into Ohio. It's a massive area, and, said Old Glry operations manager Tim Brown, one full of potential.
"The Carolina, Ohio, and Philly are talent-rich area," said Brown. "Some of the nation's best athletes in football, basketball, and wrestling come from this area. The people in Ohio are really excited about what we're doing, and we really want to attract the rugby players and athletes from our region."
“We’re really focused on trying to build this from the grass roots up,” Sheehy told the Washington Post. “It’s a grass roots sports. We’re working with the local youth teams. If we can get the local rugby community behind our effort, we can probably sell out a 5,000-person stadium.”
This has already been shown to be true. There are rugby fans out there, and sports fans who don't want to traipse into the city when there's more bang for their sports entertainment buck closer to home. That's what helped the Seattle Seawolves (playing, as they do, in Tukwila ten miles from downtown Seattle), and is a model pursued by Austin, Houston, RUNY, and Utah.
“There’s risk to it,” Dunlavey told the Post, “but we both have enough of a passion about the sport and the belief in it as a good thing for our region that we want to get behind it.”
Next up? Talent acquisition. Some players are already committed to the team, but Old Glory DC will be running a series of combines to find more players.
"We know there are players who have played in high school and college who know how to play and have the core skills," said Brown. "What I'd like is to show these young players what it's all about, and to come out of each combine with a list of players who feel they want to play professional rugby."
The club will host four combines and made a point of holding them at venues that rugby players know. The club will have an exhibition season this spring, and is looking for players for that season, but it also looking for the future.
Below is the schedule and a link to sign up.
DC Old Glory Combine Schedule:
Player Combine Session #1 - Columbus, Ohio
·Date: Sunday, March 10
·Location: Fortress Field, Obetz, Ohio
·Address: 2015 Recreation Trail, Obetz, OH 43207
·Time: 10 am to 4 pm
Player Combine Session #2 - Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
·Date: Sunday, March 17
·Location: The Proving Grounds Sports Complex – Fields 4 and 5
·Address: 725 Conshohocken Rd, Conshohocken, PA
·Time: 10 am to 4 pm
Player Combine Session #3 – Charlotte, North Carolina
·Date: Sunday, March 24
·Location: Queens University Sports Complex
·Address: 2229 Tyvola Rd, Charlotte, NC 28210
·Time: 10 am to 4 pm
Player Combine Session #4 – Washington, DC
·Date: Sunday, March 31
·Location: Catholic University – Cardinal Stadium
·Address: Varnum St NE, Washington, DC 20017
·Time: 9 am to 3 pm