By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kaitlyn R. Breitkreutz
YOKOSUKA, Japan (May 25, 2013) – The U.S. Navy’s forward-deployed aircraft carrier USS George Washington’s (CVN 73) Rugby Football Club team participated in an international rugby “Meat Cup” tournament at Ikego, Japan, May 25..
The tournament consisted of six, international rugby teams that came together in friendly competition to raise money for the Make-a-Wish Foundation.
“I had an Ensign pull me under his wing when I first arrived aboard George Washington, and he taught me that rugby isn’t just a sport to enjoy and have fun with but is one of the most charitable,” said Interior Communications Electrician 2nd Class Sean Gehrold, from Ramtown, N.J. “It’s something I think that a lot of people don’t realize.”
Each team played a minimum of three 20-minute matches with a minimum of 10 players. The top three teams won placement prizes, but the real reward was the more than $60,000 the tournament was able to collect and donate to the Make-a-Wish Foundation.
The “Meat Cup” tournament is a young tradition that started with a simple email when George Washington rugby players and local teammates gathered regional rugby players together for a match. Players responded not only from local military bases, but from all over Japan.
Some of the players, like those in the Tokyo Crusaders Rugby Football Club, were locals living in Japan who came from Ireland, New Zealand and Australia. Others were local Japanese and even Sailors from the Royal New Zealand Navy who are members of the HMNZS Te Mana Rugby Football Club. Regardless of their nationality or occupation, rugby united all the competitors for a common cause.
Sunny weather allowed each team the opportunity to get on the field several times during the tournament. Despite hard tackles and hits by all the players, smiles were easy to see as the teams shook hands and walked off the field.
“It’s the best part of rugby – the camaraderie,” said Evan Hitchman, Tokyo Crusaders’ captain, from Sydney, Australia. “Everyone gets together with the opposing team after the game and we shake hands and have a drink.”
This is the third event that the George Washington Rugby Football Club has had the opportunity to donate to the Make-a-Wish Foundation, but it does not look like it will be the last.
“It’s a tradition that we’re continuing and we’re going to keep fundraising to do our part to help those less fortunate,” said Gehrold.
George Washington and its embarked air wing, Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5, provide a combat-ready force that protects and defends the collective maritime interest of the U.S. and its allies and partners in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.
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