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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A group of local rugby players took to the pitch Friday for some friendlies and some fun. Despite the blustery cold, the group shared warm memories of a Saint Joseph’s Prep and Temple University teammate, Josias Sterling, who tragically died in 2009.
It was the 10th and final “Apple Pie” 7s Rugby Tournament — named after Sterling’s favorite pie — to benefit the Josias Sterling Foundation.
“The rugby community has always been a very tight-knit brotherhood,” former St. Joe’s Prep rugby coach Bill Gregory said.
Sterling passed away in an accidental drowning in a riptide at the Jersey Shore. Ever since, his friends and family have taken part in a rugby tournament geared to preventing future water-related accidents.
“We came to find out that the opportunity to learn swim safety and swim lessons is very lacking in the community,” Gregory said. “We felt that in Josias’ honor and his name, if we could fund a program that prevent similar tragedies, that would be a good mission to honor his name.”
To honor his loss, the fundraiser emphasized the “fun” with some of the rugby players dressed as Santa in red and white suits while others dressed as vikings and even a unicorn.
“I’ve never seen anything like this in my life,” one spectator said.
Since its inaugural year, the charity event has funded over 1,500 scholarships for water-safety training.