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"As a rugby club, we are a family -- I often address my teammates as ‘brother’. It makes perfect sense to join our families to promote both the sport of rugby and the beers of CMBC.”

Cape May Brew Cup

Okay. Let’s recognize a universal truth.

Generally speaking — and this certainly doesn’t cover the entire population –, but, generally speaking…

…and we hope we’re not rocking your world, here, but…

Rugby players like beer.

There are probably a few players out there who don’t, and this may be the case of the squeaky wheel getting the grease — or, in this case, the Cape May Lager — but, as stereotypical as it may be, in our limited experience, it’s true.

Rugby players like beer.

We don’t blame them.

You may be thinking, “How many rugby players could there possibly be in South Jersey?” and that’s a good question.

The answer: not many. In fact, there are only two adult men’s teams playing in the southern eight counties: the South Jersey Devils based in Cherry Hill and the Jersey Shore Sharks based in Galloway.

These guys like beer enough to approach us about sponsoring their annual championship match, and, needless to say, we said yes.

Introducing the Cape May Brew Cup!

58430240_10156879288032535_6517533500684369920_n-2“This was some easy math,” Hank says, ever the analytical engineer. “At its core, rugby is a community. These guys don’t just get together to play a game; they’re a family. That’s something we can get behind.”

The South Jersey Devils were founded in 1969 and were the only team in South Jersey for almost twenty years. In 1986, a few members of the Devils got tired of traveling to Cherry Hill for practices and matches, so they splintered off into the Jersey Shore Sharks, beginning a rivalry that has persisted for over thirty years.

They’ve been meeting up in this championship game, for… well… it’s been difficult to say how long this has been going on or what the record may be.

“I’ll see if I can find some historians who haven’t been hit in the head a lot,” jokes Sean O’Mara, Tighthead Prop for the South Jersey Devils.

We had some differing reports: it may have begun in 2008. Or it may have begun in 2005. Through a great deal of research and a rabbit hole of social media posts, it appears that South Jersey has slightly edged Jersey Shore throughout the years.

“5-4 bad guys,” jokes Alex Brigden, co-captain of Jersey Shore.

IMG_8902-2Originally called the Bayfest Cup and played in conjunction with Bayfest weekend, it’s been a while since the two events converged.

“In my nine years on the team, we never once actually played during Bayfest weekend,” Sean says.

So, for some time, it’s made sense for the two teams to seek out a new name for the match, and Cape May Brewing Co. seemed like the perfect fit: Sean and Hank have known each other since freshman football in high school.

“When Hank first started dreaming up the brewery,” Sean tells us, “I begged him to let me help in any way I could. I actually set up the Facebook and Twitter accounts when they first launched and ran them for a while until they hired much more competent folks to take care of them. I even got engaged at the first-anniversary event, and Hank was a groomsman at my wedding. I’ve been looking for an excuse to help promote the Cape May Brewing Company brand with my team for a while now.”

In addition, our very own Distribution Manager Justin Vitti has played for Jersey Shore in the past, when he’s not out playing darts, making things disappear, or ensuring that our delectable brews make it into your glass, that is.

Photo by: Mat Boyle / matboyle.com

“I’ve been going to CMBC since its early days,” Alex says, nodding toward Devil’s Reach and Coastal Evacuation as his favorite brews. “I still remember Mop Man pouring my first ever Cape May IPA from a kegerator that served as the ‘tasting room’. I have seen the brewery grow tremendously over the years.”

Not only do the two teams have a personal connection to the brewery, but they all drink a lot of our beer.

Like… a lot of our beer.

“I have at least a six- or four-pack of CMBC beer in my fridge at all times,” Sean says, looking toward White Caps and Snag & Drop as his favorites, “not because of loyalty to my friend but because it’s just that good.”

Being a little closer, Jersey Shore makes it down to the brewery a little more frequently.

Photo by: Mat Boyle / matboyle.com

“The team has made many a trek to the brewery to have beers together,” Alex says. “Some of our team members live in the Cape May area and the rest of us make it down there as much as possible. Even if the team can’t get there as much as we’d like, we drink the beer all the time. It is at the bars my team frequents, it is in my beer fridge at home, and it’s in my glass as I’m answering these questions. It’s on tap at our after parties and it can be found getting passed around after a match at the field in growlers for all to enjoy.”

Beyond their obvious love for our product, both players recognize that this sponsorship is a bit of a no-brainer.

“It always seemed like a perfect match: rugby and beer. Writes itself,” Sean says. “The Cape May Brew Cup just makes sense.”

Photo by: Mat Boyle / matboyle.com

Alex agrees.

“Cape May beer is synonymous with South Jersey and the Jersey Shore,” he says. “It’s part of the fabric of our communities. To have a match between the only two rugby clubs in southern New Jersey sponsored by one of the OGs in New Jersey beer is the perfect combination.”

And it sounds like it’s going to be a barn burner on May 11th at Jersey Shore’s home pitch at Veteran’s Memorial Park in Galloway. South Jersey recently moved up to Division 2, finishing 5th of nine, just short of the playoffs with a league record of 3-5. Jersey Shore made it to the playoffs for Division 3, losing in the first round.

“Our spring season has been up and down as the team has been dealing with quite a few injuries,” Alex tells us. “Make no mistake though: this match has been circled on our calendar for some time now.”

Photo by: Mat Boyle / matboyle.com

South Jersey lost the cup last year for the first time since 2011, mostly because they’d underestimated Jersey Shore.

“They came prepared,” Sean says of Jersey Shore. “I’d spent the entire week before the game talking trash on social media and had to post about eating crow.”

One of the reasons Sean pursued the sponsorship by CMBC was to make sure his team was ready for this match.

“There’s no way we’ll let them be the first to hoist the Cape May Brew Cup,” Sean says. “It’s coming home with the Devils.”  

For Jersey Shore, it comes down to two things: pride and determination.

Photo by: Mat Boyle / matboyle.com

“We have been working hard and are looking forward to hoisting the very first Cape May Brew Cup,” Alex says. “CMBC is along the Jersey Shore; so the cup naturally belongs there and we intend to keep it there.”

However, when it comes down to it, this partnership is about strengthening a community. While the two teams are rivals, it’s definitely a friendly rivalry, marked by a common quest for excellence and tempered with the recognition of a cause greater than themselves.

“When either myself or the team is at CMBC,” Alex says, “we always feel as if we’re amongst friends and family. As a rugby club, we are a family — I often address my teammates as ‘brother’. It makes perfect sense to join our families to promote both the sport of rugby and the beers of CMBC.”  

Swing down to Jersey Shore’s home pitch at Veteran’s Memorial Park in Galloway on May 11th. Help us crown the first winner of the Cape May Brew Cup!