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If the Chicago Lions are burned out from the 7s season that flows into a 15s season two weeks later, the Milwaukee club may be even more so.
Not because the Barbarians made the national 7s championships – they didn’t, being edged out on a tiebreaker. But the club is smaller and more reliant on a dedicated group of players.
“Guys are realizing now that it’s a February to November season with no breaks,” said Milwaukee’s Pat Sharpe. “We have to do a lot of recruiting and working in newer players. The 7s guys are taking the fall off, and that’s understandable.”
As the season goes on, more players, especially recruits from the University of Wisconsin system (notably Whitewater and Milwaukee) will come in. And perhaps the biggest recruiter for the club will be an inanimate object.
The team has just started practicing at their new facility at Zablocki Park in the Southwestern corner of the city. The opening of this area as a rugby facility is the result of much work between Milwaukee County and the club.(It's a long story involving retaining ponds and butterflies, among other things – we will give you the full saga in RUGBY Magazine later on.)
The facility includes a lighted practice pitch and a game field, which will be available Friday nights to host high school games.
A nice, reliable place to practice and play is always a draw for players, and the opening of what will potentially be named the Milwaukee Rugby Park is a big step for the club.