MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - When members of the Power Center Academy rugby team showed up to school Thursday morning, they thought they were coming to a ceremony to celebrate new rugby uniforms donated by Republic Services.
The ceremony ended up being a surprise for something more exciting, a new rugby field.
Founded in 2011, Power Center Academy established rugby as a cheaper alternative to a more expensive football team. With the guidance of teacher and Memphis inner city rugby co founder Shane Young, PCA is now the Alabama of high school rugby in West Tennessee.
The school even appeared in the Tribeca Film Festival documentary, "The Rugby Boys of Memphis," but despite their success, the school still never had a home field. Young said that posed a lot of challenges.
"The sun starts going down in the fall season and we're flicking on car lights to have enough lights on the field," Young said. "You know the field's just a public park that has no flatness to it. It's all terrain so kids twisting their ankle."
Senior PCA rugby player Samuel Johnson said the new field will help the team get in more practice time.
"It's not like we have to end practice early just because it's too dark and we can't see," Johnson said. "Now it's like we have time to work harder. We don't have to go anywhere else."
Republic Services general manager Brandon Colom said he was overjoyed when he announced the construction of the rugby field funded by Republic Services and Habitat for Humanity of Greater Memphis.
"They were very excited whenever they heard about this donation and this philanthropy opportunity that we were bringing to Gestalt Community Schools and the Power Center," Colom said.
Habitat for Humanity of Greater Memphis' CEO and President Dwayne Spencer said he's happy to be a part of the project that he says will boost school spirit at Power Center Academy.
"They'll have that sense of pride and that sense of ownership that 'We're at home,'" Spencer said. "It's the home team field. Home team advantage."
While the school hasn't announced a groundbreaking date yet, they are hoping to have the field ready to go by August.