SportStars Magazine

Rugby Kick-Off Tournament: Cordova High Hosts 35th KOT

Rugby Kick-Off Tournament, NorCal, Sacramento

Northern California Rugby Season Officially Gets Underway Across Nine Levels Of Competition At Long-Running Kick-Off Tournament •

Northern California youth and high school rugby season officially begins January 26-27 at Cordova High in Rancho Cordova. The 35th Annual Kick-Off Tournament hosted by the Sacramento Valley Rugby Foundation is everything rugby. The event gathers an army of volunteers, a village of vendors, a flock of referees and nearly 100 teams. Those teams compete across as many as eight fields and nine levels of competition.

The KOT serves as a breeding ground of sorts for the game’s future stars. And not just young players getting their first touch of a ball in front of a crowd. The KOT has become American Rugby’s greatest recurring exercise in game development — helping to develop individual players, as well as entire squads. Coaching staffs, referees and game administrators benefit as well.

Its takes guts and vision to dream this big. It’s those dedicated volunteers who help pull it off so (near) flawlessly year after year!

Rugby Kick-Off Tournament, NorCal, Sacramento

Members of the Jesuit and CKM McClatchy Clubs square off at midfield during the 2018 Kick-Off Tournament. (Photos by Dave Lawicka)

Jerry Ahlin has been a permanent fixture in the Sacramento rugby scene since the 1970s. For nearly 20 years now he’s served at the KOT Director, and Chair of the Sacramento Valley Rugby Foundation. As he threatens to ride off into the sunset, we accept his retirement announcement with a heavy heart. It was his vision and perseverance that has shaped what the KOT is today.

As high school competition grew, the KOT has led the way. The event has had several homes. The included Burbank and Kennedy High, Sac State, and on to Granite Regional Park in 2005. With great fields, professional parking, great vendors, and improving competition, the event blew up.  

Find This Year’s Kick-Off Schedules HERE

Recruiting better refs, adding U19 Girls, Middle School, U12 and U10s were all an important part of the game’s growth. Ahlin saw value in growing the size of the pie. More rugby for all. Healthy competition. As the event outgrew Granite Park, Ahlin worked hard with Cordova High to bring the event to even more fields.

The Sacramento Valley Rugby Foundation’s may be able to deliver a more permanent home still. It was always the organization’s goal to develop facilities that could guarantee rugby would always have a high quality home in the region. The KOT was proof of the need for such a facility.  

The Foundation secured a lease for 91 acres at the former Mather Air Force Base in Rancho Cordova. Plans were drawn for up to 17 fields and permits were applied for. The project was then  held up for years as an Environmental Impact Statement needed to be developed. With the EIS now complete, Ahlin’s dream could come true sooner than later.

Find out more about the KOT or the SVRF by visiting Better yet, come to this year’s KOT and visit the Admin tent.

— Raymond Schwartz for Sacramento Valley Rugby Foundation

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