Local rugby legend looking to form team in Mint Hill

By Jamie Jamison
The Mint Hill Times

William “Skipper” Bailey has many years of experience playing and coaching rugby. However, no rugby team exists in his home town of Mint Hill and Bailey wants to change that.
Bailey was asked to join the Charlotte Gargoyles Rugby Team after high school in the 1970s. During his career in the United States Air Force, he played rugby at Fort Bragg.
Bailey has more than 12 years of experience as a player, and six years as a coach. Most recently
he coached a rugby team at UNC-Charlotte. He currently holds the highest rugby coaching
credential possible, and has never had a losing season. Bailey believes the strong high school football traditions in the Mint Hill area makes it an ideal place to form a rugby team.
“Mint Hill is blessed to have nationally ranked high school football teams located so close,” he said. “A lot of those players may not pursue football after high school. Rugby is a game that will fill that void.”
Rugby is a physical sport that can be very appealing to some athletes. Bailey stresses the levels of stamina required to participate.
“It’s a sense of stepping into a game where we wear no pads and we do not stop the game for any reason. It is two 40 minute halves of non-stop action, and knowing that you have the endurance to last over 80 minutes of full contact.”
Most Americans are unfamiliar with the rules of rugby, but know it has similarities to American football. In football, the defense stops a ball-carrier by tackling him. Once the ball-carrier is down the play is dead and the offense retains possession for the next play. In rugby when a ball-carrier goes down he must release the ball. It can then be recovered by
either team and play continues without any stoppages.
Don’t feel like you have to be a former or current football player to play rugby. Bailey says there are places in rugby for just about anyone.
“Rugby has a position for every size, shape, model and means; short, tall, large or not. Knowing the game and your teammates, how they act under pressure, if they can play hurt, and having endurance and a sharp brain makes a rugby player successful.”
Some high schools in Charlotte currently have rugby teams, including South Meck, East Meck, and Charlotte Catholic.
In 2007 Skipper Bailey was elected into the Charlotte Rugby Hall of Fame. Since 1971, only 42 players have earned that distinction.

“I was very surprised and thankful when I found out. It is very humbling knowing that only Hallof Fame Players can vote you in. It validated me as a rugby player!”

If any athletes, young or old, are interested in playing rugby contact the Mint Hill Athletic Association, or Skipper Bailey at MintHillRugbyFootballClub@gmail.com.

17 comments on “Local rugby legend looking to form team in Mint Hill
  1. Rugby in mint hill?
    Yes, best athletic decision yet for Mint Hill.An
    With skipper Bailey’s dedication to rugby.
    I’m positive we’ll succeed.

  2. It is good to see The “BIG I” with a team……their coach is a player that I personally know and coached Mr. Adam Kelly……….. what happens after high school?
    There are only a couple teams in the area they can play for…. 45 mins away. 1 is a very competitive team the other they are trying….. there is nothing worst than driving that far putting in so much and that lonly drive home, beat up!! Most of those players for both teams I have coached. I assure you playing for me will be fun and competitive!
    Mint Hill rugby is looking for men 18 and older to play in a D-3 or D-2 team here in Mint Hill.

  3. Is this team a go? Or just a possibility? I am old (41) but still in decent shape…at least strength-wise and am still very active in rec sports. I played rugby at UNCC back in the early ’90s and have thought about taking one last stab before it is too late. I live in Mint Hill and it would be very convenient. Have young kids so not sure of the committment level but am intrigued.

  4. Mike, we are working on that mens team, looks like @ 1 year away, would love your help, and I see you played for Mike Hanson? at UNC-C. He took that team to the state final’s…. great effort. My vision is to get players from Independence H.S. , Butler, and the new one Rocky River and maybe Queens grant. I would like to see the HIgh schools in the area start a girls team. Check out this link! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qHr9oDlvuoY

    Also we will have a facebook page Mint Hill Rugby Football Club. That way we can stay informed, as well as others.

  5. This is all very exciting. I played Women’s Rugby at Bucknell University (actually helped start the club) back in the early 80′s. Its been a while, and I’ve forgotten alot of the rules, but I might be interested in getting involved in helping to get a girls’ team started.

  6. I have recently had the opportunity to have Skipper down at Gastonia Gargoyles Rugby Club to do some guest coaching for our club. His understanding of the game, his skills, his coaching ability and dedication are amazing. Our team learned so much just from the two days that he was here. I truly hope that Mint Hill can build a club up there. With Skipper at the helm they are sure to be a great rugby club.

  7. I have had the privilege of being coached and playing along side of William “Skipper” Bailey. His passion and knowledge of rugby will help people understand this sport and the culture it fosters. Now more than ever, Skip is still an innovator of the sport. He is aggressively thinking of new ways to change the sport and of how to continue the culture of this great game. Skip created a sense of family and community when he was coaching UNC-Charlotte. Skip and his amazing family always welcomed the “rugby guys” over to the house for socials. Skip and his family were always there when someone on the team needed support. Because that is what rugby teaches you. Support, Support, Support! Mint Hill would be crazy to let this opportunity go to waste.

    One of my fondest memories of Skip was at the Clover Tournament where Skip took a crash ball off the ruck screaming “Bonsi!!” Skip smacked into the forwards, I was in support and when Skip went to ground I rucked over. As i was rucking i looked down and saw Skip at the bottom of the ruck smiling like the Cheshire Cat. To this day that image has stayed with me, because of the humor of the situation. But also the philosophic meaning behind it. Even though you’re down and out or at the bottom of a ruck KEEP SMILING. Just be happy your still in the game! The whole point of rugby is that it is , first and foremost, a state of mind, a spirit!

  8. man when i heard about this i was grateful.i was born into Rugby and cant imagine life without it.use to every other team in Charlotte is just way too far from the bottom of my heart i thank him for making a team in mint hill!!!! oh and eastmeck has a great team along with providence and i dont think matthews has a team he should recruit from those schools too

  9. This is a link to show you guys how many team are in the area: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_Carolina_Rugby_Football_Union
    Mr. Bailey has a vision of rugby here in Mint Hill and the logistics is one of the best in the country as far as High School talent and locations…. also this is a sport that men and women can play for a long time after school.” Mint Hill Rugby Club ” I can see that. Good Luck “Skipper”!!

  10. I was truely honored to be able to learn the game of rugby from Skipper Bailey. I came into the game never playing football, but always looked back wishing i had. I felt rugby would be my only chance to fill that void of not playing a contact sport. I was able to pick up the game rather quickly thanks to the knowledge that Skipper brought to the pitch (field). He pushed all of his players hard to make us the best that we could be.

    He cares about the well-being of his players and taught us how to play the game smart and as men. He’ll be the first to tell you that this game is not about taking cheap shots. When you’re on out on the pitch you hit hard and play hard, but there’s a level of sportsmanship that goes along with the game.
    It is a gentlemens game, and although it is a grueling, violent sport, at the end of the day you shake hands with your opponent and head to a social where you can congregate as men who love the game of rugby.

    I have very fond memories of Skipper, from him being my mentor for the game of rugby, to having the privilege to be able to play with him, to just being able to spend time with him as a friend (or build a treehouse, haha). Good luck Skipper with your endevours. I’m sure you’ll be a great coach as you were for me, and don’t forget to kick for open space!

  11. Sign ups and the 1st meeting for the “Mint Hill Rugby Club” will be held on Saturday, June 4th, 11:00am – 12:30 @ 5916 Lebanon Rd, Mint Hill, N.C. 28227
    This meeting will be for players, supporters, coaches, fans and able bodies!
    If you are an old player, we want to hear from you!
    Also to keep up, til website is up, we are using ” Face Book “. Search for Mint Hill Rugby Club!

  12. If Mint Hill started a mens rugby club it would be a great step towards making rugby a more popular sport. I have played rugby with the Matthews rugby club vipers for the past 3 seasons and has been a great experience. Me and a bumch of other players with Matthews are going to CPCC next year and we need a team to play for that isnt to far away. This would help alot of local rugby players be able to still play after high school.

  13. With injuries that I am not able to have surgury on, limits my ability to help out with this effort,
    There are a lot of players in the area, someone step up to the plate and do this.
    I have been diagnosed with athritis in hip and a torn labrum and it can not be repaired hip needs to be replaced… not real happy about that , but it just hurts to much each day to continue. I am trying to find a surgeon, here in Charlotte that will do a fee base surgery and waiting for a referal from the V.A. hospital in salisbury…. that could take 3 months or more, I have had this problem going on 3 years. A person on medicare will get faster health care service over a Honorably discharged from the United States Airforce.
    Parents… get you kids playing this sport… get something started here in MInt Hill… I promise you it is a sport that you can play for a long time… and will test your kids mentally and physically.

    Higest regards,

    William “skipper” Bailey

  14. I met william in 1982 when the got out of the Air Force. I was word searching Charlotte Rugby and found this story. I had to comment reading all the other comments. 1st there is something you do not know about william,skipper,…I called him bill, he was abondoned as a child, neglected as a teen. He started goping to church at the age of 17 five days a week. I got to play with him a couple time and he is a different kind of person. I think he was 23 when we met I remeber the first time I saw him run the ball, I have yet to see anyone control the field the way he did. The guy is like 5ft 10 235lbs and nothing but meat. He was scared of no one on or off the field. I have never seem he coach and was proud to see he was inducted to the Charlotte Rugby. He does not fit in out there and he has told me several times it was the hardest thing he has done. I personally did not care for most of the players out here real clicky people, most College grads and shund him at times. But as you can see he was not denied his place in Rugby History. Mint Hill you have no idea what Bill is capable of. I see he has been unable to walk and could not get this team started. I am embarrested for you the city of Mint Hill you just let golden opportunity to have a real Rugby player help you get on the map.

  15. Having Known William since 1996, and his devotion and dedication to the sport of Rugby, it is only a matter of time before the Mint Hill RFC will have a winning tradition. I have played against Skipper, and on the same team as well as being coached by Skipper and learned alot from this man due to his committment to this sport. Skipper’s desire and passion to the sport of Rugby can only rub off on those players that he will lead. Thanks for all the memories Mr Bailey and good luck to you and your future Rugby endeavors! Cheers!!

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