2019 Rugby for Research Event Biggest Ever

Rugby for Research festival on May 4 to support AFSP


The Chillicothe Rugby Football Club (CRFC) announced recently that it will be dedicating its 9th annual Rugby for Research charity fundraising event on May 4 to supporting the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP).  AFSP’s mission is to “save lives and bring hope to those affected by suicide” and do this by funding research, and providing a wide variety awareness education, programs, and resources, funded primarily through Walk Out of the Darkness fundraising walks in communities around the country every fall. The Chicago-based Illinois chapter supports communities across the state.

Founded in 2008, the Chillicothe rugby club held its first Rugby for Research event in 2011 to support the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) in response to the tragic news that the sister of one of the Chillicothe Barbarian boys high school rugby players had died while in a diabetic coma. The initial idea was to support a different cause every year, but the organization embraced JDRF and continued the association for 5 years, raising over $15,000 for research into curing Type 1 diabetes.

Everything changed on April 22, 2015. It was a Wednesday evening, and the Chillicothe Cailíní girls rugby team had a rare mid-week home match against the girls from Plainfield. Later that evening, the Chillicothe rugby family was shocked to learn that one of the Cailini girls had taken her own life at home that very night. Alexis Encinas was 16 years old. It was devastating to the family, the rugby club members, the students and staff at Illinois Valley Central  High School, and the entire community.

Everyone came together, and the players in the Chillicothe rugby club, the students and staff at IVC High School, and people throughout the community shared the family’s grief and offered support and encouragement to the family and to each other. A year later, the school dedicated the week of April 18-22 to suicide awareness, and the rugby club announced rededicated the annual Rugby for Research fundraiser to supporting AFSP in the memory of Alexis. This is the fourth year raising funds for suicide prevention research and awareness through the event

The Chillicothe Rugby Football Club’s mission is “to educate youth in the sport of rugby, encourage good sportsmanship, and promote the overall betterment of the social, moral, and physical development of the young men and women in the community.”  Rugby for Research has become an integral part of the way that CRFC fulfills its mission.

This year’s event will be bigger than ever, featuring a total of eight youth rugby matches on three fields, featuring teams with players in 3rd through 12th grades.  There will be boys and girls high school matches with teams from Chillicothe (Barbarians, Cailini), Bloomington/Normal (Twin City Tornados), Peoria/Pekin (Peora Area Renegades), and Chicago (Lane Tech High School).  There will also be a middle school festival with teams from Chillicothe (Maulers), Aurora/Oswego (Fox Valley Chiefs), Naperville (Crusaders), New Lenox (South Suburban Cobras), Glen Ellyn (Stingers), and St. Charles/Batavia (Fox Valley Predators).  In addition for the youngest kids, there will be touch rugby matches featuring players from Effingham (Blackbirds), the Quad Cities (Young Irish), as well as the Chiefs, Crusaders, Cobras, Stingers, and Predators.

In addition, kids that have never played rugby can learn the basic rules of the game from certified coaches and can participate in touch rugby games.  There will also be a small business vendor show and fundraising activities that include a silent auction, 50/50 raffles, t-shirt and food sales, and more. Admission is free, although voluntary donations will be accepted at the gate.

For more information, please contact the Chillicothe Rugby Football Club at or visit the event page at