Mayor Bill Euille has thrown down the gauntlet. Last year the mayor challenged John Letford, The Lord Provost of Dundee, to pit the Scottish team against the finest rugby team that Alexandria could field. Letford accepted the challenge from Dundees counterpart across the Atlantic.
Dundee, Scotland, has been Alexandrias sister city for more than 30 years, but after so many years of playing nice sharing cultural, educational, economic and medical ideas its time for the sisters sibling rivalry to surface on the rugby field.
Both teams are hungry to take home the Mayors Cup from the August 9 battle in Dundee. A rematch is scheduled for May of next year in Alexandria.
Alexandrians are biting their nails, though, as rugby is just gaining popularity in America; the rugged sport has been a part of Scotlands history for hundreds of years.
This is something [Dundee] has been doing for many years, Euille said. Its fairly new here, but Ive seen the team that has been selected to be part of the cup challenge and Im impressed with their size, durability and skill.
The team comprises players from Alexandria Rugby, which has players from the Mid-Atlantic Rugby Football Union. The team will travel to Dundee on Tuesday, August 5, for some sightseeing and training before going up against its Scottish counterparts.
Dundee has a more historical rugby tradition, having sent numerous players to professional teams and even the Scottish National team. Mayor Euille is nonetheless confident with Alexandrias chances diplomatically confident.
Well, win or lose, theyll all be winners, Euille said, adding, I do expect us to be victorious.
Players have been training for the match since February. Alexandria Rugby has been working with local businesses to fund and organize the trip.
This will be the first of many rugby-related interactions between the two sister cities, Alexandria Rugby board member Fred Wixson said. The purpose of the match is to showcase top-level rugby to the citizens of Alexandria, especially its youth. The more opportunities our kids have to see the game, the more quickly they will realize what a wonderful, team-focused sport rugby is and give it a try.
No matter which team prevails, both cities will benefit from the match; proceeds will benefit local youth programs. But Mayor Euille, a sports enthusiast, offered up an edgier wager: I dont think The Provost over there is one for betting on sports and I dont even do that here at home but I will offer him a Virginia country ham in exchange for some Scottish smokeys. He added that smokeys smoked salmon are one of the his favorite foods to eat when visiting Dundee.