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Mount St. Mary's President Raves About Rugby

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Mount St. Mary's President Raves About Rugby

MSM beat Salisbury, and is looking to do more as the program grows.

Approval and backing for a college rugby team from the university administration is still a rare and elusive thing, but at some colleges it’s becoming a reality.

Goff Rugby Report spoke with one of those university leaders who is pro rugby - Simon Newman, President of Mount St. Mary’s University in Emmitsburg, Md. Newman, born in England, played a little rugby in school before concentrating on cross country and cricket. But as the MSM rugby program has grown and improved, he has recognized the sport as a way to raise the profile of the school, and attract new students.

“Our rugby team is awesome,” said Newman. “I am so proud of it. Things have changed a lot since [Head Coach Jay Myles] arrived. We had a rugby team like a lot of places, but Jay changed things completely, chaining the entity and leadership of the team, bringing in coaches from around the world …

“They became an extremely fit, well-disciplined team.” 

When some of the best players didn’t stay disciplined, they were dismissed, a move Newman applauds.

“The entire character of the team changed, and they also started winning,” said Newman. “Our rugby club has a wonderful atmosphere. Our guys are polite, disciplined. Their character is impressive. When they go on the road they visit children’s hospitals and orphanages. They could do anything during their off time on the road, and they decide to do these sorts of things themselves. They have shown their maturity.”

As a result, MSM is putting more resources behind the team, and hope to see what was an NSCRO national contender last year look to move into DI, perhaps next year. The school is offering rugby scholarships, and is looking to do more.

“We have big plans,” New man said. “We’ve already introduced scholarships and we will want to attract some international athletes. We have a coach-player exchange. We know there are Catholic high school producing very good rugby players, and we can attract those students and international students more successfully with rugby than we can with sports like football.”

Mount St. Mary’s actually doesn’t have a football team, and won’t, said Newman. It is too expensive and stresses the college’s Title IX compliance. With rugby, it’s a simple case of having a women’s rugby team, as well.

“Our men’s team is further along than our women, but we’re putting support behind the women as well,” said Newman. As for the men’s team, they logged a win over perennial DII power Salisbury earlier this year, and as talks continue about re-aligning top college teams in the Mid-Atlantic states, Mount St. Mary’s might be poised to join the big dogs. 

“We’ve already got a great coach and coaching team,” said Newman. “We have the ability to be one of the top teams in the country.”

But it all started, said Newman, with a commitment to character.

“I tell people that the most gentlemanly students we have are on our rugby team.”