The Mason-Dixon Rugby Club has forged strong international ties on atrip to Great Britain and two visits to Canada.
That reputation will pay some dividends for Carroll residents Wednesday night, when Her Majesty's Royal Air Force team takes on Westminster-based Mason-Dixon at 7:30 at the North Carroll High stadium.
Mike Gallagher, coach of the Mason-Dixon team, said the match wasarranged by the Potomac Rugby Union, which oversees the sport in this region. The British team is touring the East Coast, and also will compete against the Chesapeake Rugby Club next weekend in Baltimore.
"It just seemed a natural fit between their level of play and our club," said Gallagher. "It's really great to observe the players' skills in other countries."
Gallagher said visits like this help forgelasting ties between rugby clubs and players.
He noted, for example, that when Mason-Dixon toured England and Wales in 1989, the Cheltenham Civil Service team attended several of the Americans' matches. Mason-Dixon also has a standing invitation to a prestigious tournament in Ottawa, thanks to its two trips to Canada.
Gallagher said a few members of the Cheltenham
team have visited Mason-Dixon playerswhile traveling in the United States. Bonds also were formed while spending the night with opponents, as a way to save on travel costs and socialize with foreign players.
The Royal Air Force team was to fly from its base in Germany to New York late last week and will drive to Andrews Air Force Base in Prince George's County. Mason-Dixon players will pick up their guests at Andrews on Wednesday and give thema quick tour of Baltimore while heading back to Carroll.
After the game, the teams will have a reception at BJ's on Fairground VillageRoad in Westminster. Then, the visitors will spend the night with Mason-Dixon players before being driven back to Andrews on Thursday.
Gallagher said Westminster High originally offered its field for thegame, but Wednesday was not available because of a schedule conflict, so the North Carroll facility was selected.
Mason-Dixon cannot charge admission because of the team's amateur status, but spectators are asked to bring non-perishable food items or a $1 donation, which will be given to Carroll County Food Sunday.
"It's a nice way to do something for the community at the same time," Gallagher said.
He said the team plans another trip to England next year.