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Rutland hosts annual rugby tournament

Saturday, May 4 - WEST RUTLAND - The fifth annual Marble Valley Invitational, a single elimination rugby tournament hosted by the Rutland rugby club, the "Roosters," will take place this Saturday.

Tucked down a windy dirt road in West Rutland, past Mary's Café and just beyond the Sculpting Center on Marble Street there rests a relatively unknown rugby pitch at Gawet Field. Once a year, teams from upstate New York, New Hampshire, the Boston area and across Vermont compete for a ceremonial slab of marble.

"We wanted to start the tournament to try and bring some awareness to the community regarding rugby," said Tom Edwards who, along with fellow Rutland rugger Keith "Moose" Page founded the tournament. Five years ago, Edwards and Page tapped into their over-50 combined years of rugby history and connections to invited teams from New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Vermont to the first tournament as a way of kick starting the spring season.

"I came up with the idea of calling it the Marble Valley Invitational to keep the regions identity, affiliation and history with marble; especially seeing as our field is owned by a marble company," said Page, explaining the tournament's connection to marble.

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Along with the unconventional marble trophy, it has become tradition for the Roosters to provide wild game kebabs for the social event, often moose or deer. "It's a special nice little twist we have oppose to the usual post game pasta or whatever," said Page.

"We try to keep it social and fun. Teams always want to come back and play in it and we felt that was always more important than just trying to win it," said Page of the tournament.

Currently, the tournament consists of six teams but the future could see it grow. Both Edwards and Page would like to create a second field to accommodate up to ten teams over a two day period. "Many teams leave early and miss out on the party. It would be nice to have a bigger presence in the downtown of Rutland on Saturday night and bring in the participation of more local businesses," said Edwards.

The first game of the tournament with begin at 9 a.m., and will be held at the Gawet Memorial field at 845 Marble Street in West Rutland and is open to the public.

Photos by Patric Hendrick