4/13/16 Update: Mobile Area Rugby Foundation and Battleship Rugby

Rendition of the Brookley Field rugby complex

Artist’s rendition of future home of Battleship RFC released.

“It has been a lengthy process and everyone has worked diligently to get to this point.” From Robert Corley, Chairman, Mobile Area Rugby Foundation Coordinator,

To our teammates (new and old), friends, family and supporters, I hope this email finds you well in these early months of 2016. For some, the recent passing of friends and family members may darken the skies. Trust that you are never alone, and your Battleship family will be WITH YOU and your family at all times. Please allow me to offer condolences from my family and your Battleship Rugby family. While this can be a difficult time, there is much to celebrate around the Battleship community and still plenty of work left to be done.

Mid-last year, the administrators and club members of Mobile Area Rugby Foundation and Battleship Rugby Football Club began discussing the future of rugby in the Mobile area. The executive committees of both organizations explored the best pathways for growing rugby, at all levels, across southwest Alabama. A recommendation to consolidate the two entities was presented to both organizations’ constituents and approved at the Battleship Rugby AGM in August. As part of the reorganization, Mobile Area Rugby Foundation acquired new administrative duties, including rebranding all non-collegiate rugby in Mobile as Battleship Rugby. This will include Battleship’s U12 flag rugby league, the U19 7’s, and the senior men’s and women’s teams. This transition has not been without its opportunities and we realize updates have been lacking. Please trust this is merely a function of the admin hard at work growing rugby in all channels and know the flow of information will improve over the coming weeks and months.

I want to thank the current Battleship Men’s players, coaching staff and administrators for the grit they displayed in playing through this past season. The competition cycle started off promising but fell short of expectations. There is no lack of talent or determination in the current XV’s team, and we look to build upon the efforts displayed by our storied veterans and novice-players alike.

The 2015-2016 season also witnessed Mobile’s first women’s XV’s and 7’s sides taking the pitch. At the GRU meeting earlier this year, Battleship Women’s RFC was approved to enter the True South’s competition cycle for 2016-2017. This is a huge milestone, and the women have earned their accolades every step of the way. We will continue to grow the brand many of you have built and serviced through your hard work, sweat, and broken bones.

Roughly two years ago, Battleship Rugby’s home for nearly 20 years was condemned by the City of Mobile due to structural concerns with the lighting and the clubhouse. This came as a shock considering the close relationship we have all fostered with the Business Innovation Center and the City/County of Mobile.

After exploring a number of options, we determined that the best course of action would be to identify new strategic partners and a new home for Battleship Rugby. We have since agreed on Mobile Aeroplex at Brookley as the new location for rugby operations. Many of you have probably heard rumblings or mentions of this new arrangement. The limited information broadcast publicly is intentional, as we would like to hold off on publicizing our move to Brookley until we have established our presence within the Aeroplex. Over the weekend, the first of three shipping containers was delivered to the site, where it will be upcycled for storage and a viewing pavilion. I have attached a rendering of the final product we intend to call home for Battleship Rugby. There are some significant steps in phase 1 that will need to take place for all of us to recognize the fruits of our labor.

We have initially budgeted a sum of $10,000 to complete the construction of this site. That money has been earned, built and protected by all of you, for this purpose. I remember discussions in 2001 where Steering Committees and Old Boys envisioned a home of our own, aside from the BIC. I was invigorated by the long-term planning and had faith in the club administrators to take action that would allow Battleship to flourish and prosper for many years after my playing days. You guys have positioned us to make a bold move to ensure the program’s sustainability, but also to increase the visibility of rugby in Mobile. For that, I thank you. Without the members of Battleship Rugby, past and present, there would be no purpose to all of this and no history to preserve.

Some of you have been called upon to make connections, bridge gaps, or to provide services to help us create the new home for Battleship Rugby. A huge thank you goes out to you for your time and effort to help us preserve our legacy. In the coming weeks and months, many others of you may receive emails, calls or a knock on the door asking you to use your time, money or material to realize our goal of building a new, lasting home for our club. You all have done so much in the past forty years, a thank you is just not enough. The work we have done in the past twelve months to earn your trust and respect is just scratching the surface. Our aim is to reward your efforts with a facility deserving of the time you’ve spent away from families at fish fries, BBQs, and scraping aluminum.

Whether you are a current member, recent BOB, or a revered founder of this fine institution, please consider donating time, money or material to help us to complete the construction of our new home. You can donate to the facilities fund through paypal at Mobile Area Rugby Foundation Inc. If you can contribute time or material (dirt, grass seed, dozers, seeders, mowers, lighting equipment), please contact rcorley@mobilerugby.org so we can complete this facility for the Fall social cycle.

You should anticipate monthly updates on the progress of not only the facility, but our growing Men’s, Women’s, and Academy Programs. Currently, we are preparing to launch a touch rugby program, a highly-competitive Summer 7’s program, and defend our U12 flag rugby gold medal at the Alabama State Games. We will also be announcing this week a vacancy in the Men’s XV’s and 7’s Head Coach position for the 2016-2017 competition cycle. In addition, we will be deploying a Rookie Rugby P.E. curriculum for homeschoolers in early May. If you are interested in getting involved in any of these programs, please feel free to call or email me directly.

In closing, there are a number of great things on the horizon for Battleship Rugby. You all have paved the way for our current opportunities. For that, I thank you. We do have a lot of work to do over the next few weeks and months, and we could use your support to accomplish our vision. Please consider contributing in any manner. We have many needs and will be making additional program changes to ensure the viability of this club and organization. How will you help shape the future of Battleship Rugby? As a player on the 2001 National Championship team, I take great pride in the history and the future of this organization. As a player that began his career in the wake of Battleship’s 1992 National Championship, I have immense respect for those who paved the way. Help us realize the vision we have all talked about for nearly twenty years.

With you, Robert Corley

Source: BOB Old Boys List

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