New Chapter for Clemson Tigers Rugby
New Chapter for Clemson Tigers Rugby
Clemson University Rugby is making some big changes as the program looks to its next chapter.
The Tigers have left the Mid-South Conference in DIA to join the SCRC in DIAA, which is more fitting for the program’s club-sports status. But that’s only one of the changes. Former Eagle Troy Hall has been hired on as Head Coach and Director of Rugby.
For Hall, who, along with his wife, Dr. Sarah Hall, runs Hall Consultants, a High Performance Physical Wellness & Nutrition Consulting company, the move was a logical one. He and his wife lived relatively nearby before moving to Clemson in South Carolina.
An Easy Decision
“It was one of the easiest moves we’ve done,” said Hall, who has lived on both US coasts. “Now I live seven minutes from the rugby field. It’s the closest commute I’ve had since I was a kid.”
Hall was hired on last spring but with no rugby allowed he had to get creative. Since the fall semester began he was able to start bringing the players back onto the field. In September and October he ran a series of sessions twice a week, keeping the players in small groups. In November they switched to a six-on-six touch rugby competition using strict COVID protocols to keep safety as the priority.
Throughout the fall I was also able to get to know the guys much better and start building relationships," said Hall. "Engagement and getting to know the whole-person is important to me. I also want the players to get to know who I am outside of coaching. To get to know Sarah and my two kids, Celeste & Wesley. Creating the right environment for the players that focuses on the overall player experience is absolutely key in my eyes. We want players to feel like they belong, to be themselves & to challenge each other to be better me everyday. Do we want to compete hard? Yes. Do we want to get better? Yes. Will we go through tough times? Yes. Do we need to do things differently? Yes. But, as we move forward together it is super important that we enjoy the ride, adapt when we need to and have fun along the way."
Hall added that the six-on-six touch league exceeded his expectations.
"The players were outstanding," Hall said. "Their buy-in and commitment as a group is what made the experience a really memorable one. We were able to develop more leadership in the program and make some really good strides not only ON the field, but also OFF it as well. I wanted to challenge the players to learn how to play International Touch using the proper rules, to create game plans, adapt and more. This is a big reason why I was refereeing each week too. I wanted to empower the players to make decisions, learn together and develop a great team spirit with each of their small groups. We definitely made the best of a unique situation."
A Focus on Community
Former Clemson Head Coach Jim Gaine is still involved in the program and he met with Hall to discuss increasing the role of the Clemson Rugby Foundation in the Community. Hall said it’s that plan that has him in for the long haul.
“We’ve got our own field and a really nice setup,” Hall added. “We have a goal of connecting more with the community and inspiring more kids to play our game. I have been involved in grassroots rugby for a long time and it is a huge passion of mine. I simply want to create more opportunities for kids to come out and have fun learning our game."
Darragh Leader Joins Clemson
Hall has brought on Darragh Leader (brother of former Lindenwood All American and capped Eagle Tadgh Leader) as a graduate assistant. Leader played in the Connacht system and brings plenty of rugby experience & knowledge. Darragh is receiving the CRF Clemson MBA scholarship to cover his entire MBA tuition.
"When Darragh first connected with me in April, I was certainly intrigued and interested in what he had to say," said Hall. "Hearing about his goals and aspirations for coming this way and what he was looking to do. I immediately reached out to a mutual friend and teammate—US Eagle, AJ MacGinty—who played with Darragh at Connacht. AJ had nothing but good things to say about him, not just his on-field talents, but more importantly, that he is a top bloke. This was enough good feedback for me, so I scheduled a Zoom call with Darragh, connected with Jim Gaine (CRF Founder), and the rest is history. At Clemson, there is a real opportunity to build something really special. To have more of a positive impact in the community. But, it takes people, a team, good role models, and quality leaders with experience to make it happen."
Gaine, the CRF's Founder and President, said support from the university has helped get Leader involved.
"I'm grateful for the time and effort of MBA Director of Academic programs, Jane Layton, and the expert guidance of Dave 'Yoda' Fleming. I couldn't be happier in this outcome," said Gaine. "From the moment Troy discussed this idea with me I felt strongly this is something our supporters could get behind and aligned perfectly with our mission. It was clear that Darragh was looking for ways to improve himself professionally while also willing to share his knowledge and experiences in exchange. We've created partnerships with the University like this before for Athletic Trainers and now we have done it again with the Wilbur O. and Ann Powers College of Business. Having Darragh join the Clemson Family opens up more international networking opportunities for our young rugby players in Clemson and across the region."
While Leader pursues his Clemson MBA degree and coaches with the rugby team, his research and work outside of class will include identifying opportunities that enhance the Clemson Rugby brand for improved marketability, revenue, and support.