Can-Am Rugby Tournament lives up to the hype again

SARANAC LAKE The banners advertising an upcoming film summed up the 35th annual Can-Am Rugby Tournament perfectly: Forever Strong. The tournament hosted 90 teams 10 less than usual but every game was played in Saranac Lake, a feature that pleased most participants, according to event organizer Jay Annis. A lot of people told me that it was nice not to have to drive back-and-forth, Annis noted. We had a few small issues when you put that many players in one spot, you have parking problems but in general, everything went very smoothly. Due to field issues, games that normally would have been held in Lake Placid had to be hosted by Saranac Lake. Last year, a number of fields in Saranac Lake werent in good enough condition to play on, but were available this year. Every year it floats back-and-forth, Annis added. The tournament is the largest event held in Saranac Lake throughout the year, dwarfing even Februarys Winter Carnival. This year, the influx of people generated a much needed boost to a struggling economy. Sylvie Nelson, executive director of the Saranac Lake Area Chamber of Commerce, said that this year was a banner year for local businesses. We had busy hotels, busy restaurants, plus family members of players did a lot of shopping locally, she said. Overall, its an important weekend for Saranac Lake. Like Annis, Nelson noted that the central location of the event had little impact on business. We arent aware of any ill-effects, said Nelson. Organizationally speaking it may have had an effect, but on our end we didnt really see any difference. With the swollen population comes an increased need for law and order, but according to new Saranac Lake Police Department Chief Bruce Nason, the weekend was fairly tame. It was a good weekend for us, he said. There were only a couple of arrests only one disorderly conduct and one DWI. The guys worked real hard, Nason added. Were down to minimal staff so there were pretty much eight guys that worked the entire weekend they did a great job. Sponsors for the tournament were Bud Light, Balls Out Rugby, and the Saranac Lake Central School District, whom Annis thanked for the use of its grounds and facilities. Several injuries were reported over the weekend, but as of Tuesday, all athletes had been released from the hospital. Next years tournee is scheduled for July 31 to August 2, and sign-ups are currently underway. Annis said that 50 teams are already registered, and he expects slots to fill up fast. Word is spreading not just around North America but internationally, he said. A guy from England played with the Old Boys this year. He was vacationing in New York and called up and asked if he could play. Now, hes going to tell his club back home. Annis said that he is always looking for more sponsors and more volunteers, and that anyone wishing to get involved can contact him at Spencer Boatworks, 891-5828, or through the Can-Am website at www.canamrugby.com

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