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Alaska Mountain Rugby Grounds impresses teams from around the world

  • Author: Loren Holmes
  • Updated: July 21, 2017
  • Published July 20, 2017

Overlooking Anchorage is a rugby field like no other. Carved out of the Hillside, it is unexpected and picturesque.

The brainchild of Alaska Demolition owner Justin Green, Alaska Mountain Rugby Grounds has seen a lot of local games, but last weekend it hosted some of the best over-35 players in the world.

"A lot of these players are retired professional or national players," said Cameron Vivian of Alaska Rugby. "It's very high-caliber for us."

Members of the Mangatainoka Barbarians, a New Zealand rugby team, perform a haka before a July 15 game at the Alaska Mountain Rugby Grounds. A haka is a traditional war dance common in many Pacific Island cultures and is a tradition of the All Blacks, New Zealand’s national rugby team. (Loren Holmes / Alaska Dispatch News)

Hamish Clentworth, the chairman of the visiting Mangatainoka Barbarians Rugby Club of New Zealand, was almost at a loss for words.

"We've decided we have to make a few words in the dictionary redundant," he said. "Wow, amazing, fabulous. The scenery, the people, everything has just been fantastic for us."

Mangatainoka is one of the world's premier over-35 club teams. Many of its members have played for the All Blacks, New Zealand's national team that is considered one of the best in the world.

"It's nice to have the recognition of a very good team like the Mangatainoka Barbarians coming this far to travel to get to this venue," said Whitey Nelson of the Misfits Rugby Club of Colorado.

Rugby teams from Canada, Colorado and New Zealand played at the Alaska Mountain Rugby Grounds last weekend. (Loren Holmes / Alaska Dispatch News)

Green created the Alaska Mountain Rugby Grounds with the hope rugby would take hold in Alaska, a vision that appears to be coming true.

"The example here is what one person can do when they have a vision and a passion," said Clentworth.

Nelson said he's played the game for 30 years and said the field is one of the best he's ever seen.

"It sent chills down my spine, like a little kid walking into Disneyland for the first time," he said.

The Alaska Mountain Rugby Grounds is bigger than a football field. (Loren Holmes / Alaska Dispatch News)

"… It reminds me of the movie 'Field of Dreams.' If you build it, they will come. And here we are: Canada's here, New Zealand's here. This is just the start of big things to come for this place."

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