Rugby club cleans up around Shelton Dog Park

SHELTON — Some area rugby players got down and dirty Saturday cleaning up the area around the city’s dog park.

Two dozen members of the Aspetuck Valley Rugby Club spent a portion of the day gathering more than 30 bags of trash from the trails and surrounding lands around the Shelton Dog Park — a tradition started in 2018.

The club, with a high school-aged squad ranked No. 15 nationally, recruits players from throughout the state — many from Shelton. The high school head coach, Ray Weiner, also lives in Shelton, so holding this trash-a-thon in the city was a perfect fit, he said.

According to team manager Talia Burress, the players get sponsors who agree to pay a certain amount for each hour worked. On Saturday, the crew raised more than $2,400. The money goes to the club, which uses it to help cover costs for trips and equipment for those families that need assistance.

“As a nationally ranked club, we do a lot of traveling. It gets expensive and events like this help offset the cost,” Burress said. “Coach Weiner feels the boys need to earn their sponsorships, not just have money handed to them, and that’s where the trash-a-thon came in.

“This is a way for the players to bond,” Kinney added, “while raising money all while also giving back to the community.”

Founded in 2012, Aspetuck Valley Rugby Club offers programs for players ages 8 through high school. The club has expanded in recent years, Kinney said, with more than 100 players across all ages with youth teams at U10, U12 and U14 and three high school teams: freshman, D1 and D2.

Kinney said the trash-a-thon remained in Shelton over the years since "so many players (are) living in the surrounding area and Shelton. We may branch out next season.”

Players are from Shelton, Monroe, Newtown, Middlebury, Wilton, New Canaan, Stamford, West Haven, Milford, Redding, New Haven, Fairfield, Darien, Bridgeport and Stratford. The squad’s home field is listed in Newtown, but Kinney said the team also holds contests at Shelton High and Perry Hill schools.

For more information on the club, visit https://www.aspetuckrugby.org/

brian.gioiele@hearstmediact.com