HARRISON TOWNSHIP, Ohio (WDTN) — It’s been nearly three years since a fire sparked on the grounds of the Dayton Area Rugby Club.

Crews say it was suspected arson.

They’ve started rebuilding, but they still have a long way to go and are looking to bring in donations to do more work this summer.

The club bought the grounds on Shiloh Drive in Harrison Township for roughly $25,000 in 2012. That same year, they formed the Five Rivers Youth Rugby Foundation.  

“Running the property, the foundation runs on a $15,000 a year annual budget between utilities, restrooms, field maintenance, fertilizing, mowing, that type of thing. So our operating costs are about $15,000,” says treasurer Chris Schreel.

The program depends on memberships, donations, and fundraising to operate.

In March of 2020 a fire damaged their clubhouse and set them back. Harrison Township firefighters saved what they could, but some of the destruction had already been done. 

“I’d equate it to having a black eye. It’s not like we stopped using the grounds. But it was just an eyesore,” says Matt Tracey who’s on the board of Five Rivers Youth Rugby Foundation.

The kitchen and concession area was destroyed, and most of the building had smoke damage.

“We did lose several thousand dollars’ worth of equipment and merchandise that we use for the club as well as the potential income that we used to use for the concession stands,” describes Graham Hunter, the president of the Dayton Area Rugby Club.

After the fire in 2020, they raised $10,000 to make initial repairs. 

“It was great to see that outreach from the community as a whole,” says Tracey.

“The first thing we did was—We spent about $6,000 having new doors put on,” states Schreel.

Now, they have started another gofundme to raise more money to complete repairs. They hope to start work on the building before their season starts. They estimate this phase of the rebuilding process will cost $30,000.

“Although we have covered a lot of the costs, we are now at the stage where we’re trying to rebuild, and that’s where we’re starting to struggle a little with it with the funding side of it,” says Hunter.

They’re also planning to auction off signed jerseys and a ball from the 2015 Rugby World Cup Champions to help raise money.

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