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School-Supported College Teams You May Not Know About

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School-Supported College Teams You May Not Know About

Lander University rugby in action. Hannah Davidson photo for Lander Athletics.

While the organization of collegiate rugby is up in the air, there are other changes afoot.

There are new and relatively-new athletic department-run programs starting up around the country. Several of these are small colleges that realize they can use rugby to boost their enrollment and raise their profile. We at GRR want to raise your profile, too. Be part of our player data base to get your name and info in front of college coaches.

HS Rugby Players—Get Noticed!

Put your player info into our Player Recruiting Data Base.
It's free, and it exposes you to college, academy, and select-side coaches and uses the power of Goff Rugby Report to get your name out there.

It's easy. and free. Click to submit your info>>

Marian University

A private Roman Catholic university in Indianapolis, Ind., Marian was founded in 1851, but the rugby program is brand-new, with this year being a year of recruiting only.

Marian has a student body of about 2,400 and offers 40 majors.

Head Coach: John Harley. Hired in December, 2019, Harley coached the Fishers HS program and the Rugby Indiana and EIRA Midwest select sides.

Queens University of Charlotte

A private university in Charlotte, NC with a student body of about 2,300. Founded in 1857 Queens offers 34 majors, and started men's and women's rugby in 2017. Since then the program has enjoyed some significant success. This past fall the Queens men's program won the D2 national championship.

Director of Rugby/Head Coach: Katie Wurst has served as Director of Rugby since the rugby program started, and Frank McKinney is the men's Head Coach. He has coached with the Charlotte Tigers, and The Citadel.

Belmont Abbey

A private Roman Catholic university in Belmont, NC, Belmont Abbey has an undergraduate enrollment of about 1,500 and offers 47 majors. 

While Belmont Abbey has had a rugby club before, the university has just this past fall started its Athletics Department-supported rugby program. 

Head Coach: Nick Whitrow was named as the program's first Head Coach in December. Whitrow has coached both the South Carolina and the North Carolina HS select sides, and he also coached at Clemson.

Marywood University

A Catholic university in Scranton, Pa founded in 1915, Marywood has an undergraduate enrollment of about 2,000. Marywood started a school-supported rugby in 2018.

Head Coach: John Gulden coaches both the men's and women's program. He previously coached at West Chester and Lock Haven.

Post University

A private for-profit university in Waterbury, Conn., Post was founded in 1890. The university has a strong history in Business, Criminal Justice, and Accounting.

Head Coach: Crist Holveck was hired as Post's first rugby Head Coach in January. He previously coached the Coast Guard Academy for five years.

Bethel University

Bethel is a private Christian liberal arts university in Mishawaka, Ind. It was established in 1947 and is affiliated with the evangelical Christian Missionary Church. The school serves just over 2,000 undergrads and has over 50 majors. The Pilots started a school-supported rugby program in 2015.

Head Coach: Darrell Knowlton had served as assistant coach at Bethel and before that was Head Coach at Culver Military Academy, and also has worked with the HS All American coaching staff.

McKendree University

A private university in Lebanon, Ill. founded in 1828, McKendree is the oldest college in Illinois. With about 2,300 undergraduates, McKendree announced in February that is had started a school-supported rugby program.

Head Coach: Joe Lippert has been hired as the Head Coach after coaching at Lindenwood-Belleville. 

Christian Brothers

A private Catholic university in Memphis, Tenn., Christian Brothers is the oldest college in the city, founded in 1871. The university has about 1,450 undergraduates and 38 majors. CBU announced in April it would start rugby as a club sports supported by the athletic department.

Head Coach: Bryan Colbridge is the men's and women's Head Coach. A New Zealander who coached with the Memphis Inner-City Rugby program. 

HS Rugby Players—Get Noticed!

Put your player info into our Player Recruiting Data Base.
It's free, and it exposes you to college, academy, and select-side coaches and uses the power of Goff Rugby Report to get your name out there.

It's easy. and free. Click to submit your info>>

Alderson Broaddus

Created in when two Baptist universities merged, this Philippi, WV institution with just over 2,000 students and 27 majors. The school began supporting a rugby program in 2018, and the women's team has joined NIRA for the 2020-21 season.

Head Coach: Laura Miller is the Head Coach for both the men's and women's teams. Miller coached at Life University and coached the South Independent Rugby Conference all-conference team.

Southern Virginia University

A private liberal arts college that follows the teachings of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) and based in Buena Vista, Va., but it is not directly affiliated with the LDS church. SVU has an enrollment of less than 1,000, and just started a rugby program in this season. Playing in the Cardinals Conference as a small-college team, SVU managed to beat Queens, who went on to win the men's D2 championship.

Head Coach: David Smyth coached BYU for 27 years before moving to SVU. He has won multiple major championships.

Lander University

Based in Greenwood, SC and established in 1872, Lander has an enrollment of about 3,000, many studying mathematics, biology, and the physical sciences.

Head Coach: Buck Billings joined Lander after coaching the Tribe HS program in Tennessee. 

New Mexico Tech

New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology is based in Socorro, NM and offers study in over 30 majors in the science, engineering, and technology fields. College Factual rated NMT the best college for a physics degree for the money. Its rugby program plays in the NSCRO in the Rocky Mountain region against other teams in New Mexico, Texas, and Colorado.

Head Coach: Gearoid Dunbar is an Irishman who works for the school in a number of roles in club sports at NMT, but one of his jobs is to coach the men's rugby team. He has a degree in coaching and also played lacrosse for Ireland.

More School-Supported Men's Rugby Programs

Some of these programs are varsity, some are operated under the athletic department, and some are clubs that have funding and support more than most club sports teams have.

Here's a (probably incomplete) list: 

American International, Arizona, Arkansas State, Army, Brown, BYU, Cal Maritime, California, Central Washington, Claremont Colleges, Coast Guard, CSULB, Dartmouth, Davenport, Furman, Grand Canyon, Harvard, Iona, Iowa Central CC, IUPUI, Kutztown, Life University, Lindenwood, Mary Washington, Mount St. Mary's, Navy, Norwich, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame College, Penn State, Roger Williams, Salve Regina, Santa Clara, St. Bonaventure, Saint Mary's, Stanford, UCLA, USMMA, Vassar, Western Washington, Wheeling University

Buyer Beware

The key thing for players and student athletes to remember is that while you may receive financial assistance to play rugby at an institution, be aware of the following:

Some financial assistance is based on your academic performance or test scores, and you need to keep your grades up to maintain that assistance

Sometimes, if you leave a program early you find that you owe reimbursement for scholarships or grants

Total it all up. Scholarships and assistance might be enticing, but do the math and figure out how much you will ultimately pay. Make sure you add in room and board. It can be true that a school that doesn't offer financial assistance is still a better financial deal because its tuition and other costs are lower to start with.