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University of Memphis Signs Blake White As Coach

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University of Memphis Signs Blake White As Coach

Rochard Cole, left, welcomes Blake White, right, to Memphis.

In a major move in college rugby, the University of Memphis has signed former Arkansas State University Head Coach Blake White to be the Tigers' new Head Coach.

White was named Head Coach for Arkansas State in August of 2017 on an interim basis before being made the long-term head guy. He lead the Red Wolves for three seasons before stepping down this summer.

Hired by the Tiger Rugby Foundation at Memphis, White will be the Head Coach and also manage Tiger Rugby operations.  

“I’m thrilled to be coaching the Tigers,” said White in a statement.  “This program has so much untapped potential.  There is no limit for this program.”   

Tiger Rugby was started in 1983 by Steve Williams, who led the program for seven years. Many of his players became leaders and coaches for rugby programs across the US.  The modern Tiger Rugby program was resurrected by Josh Gardner in 2004.  Richard Cole and Steve Swatzyna took over the program in 2006 and grew the program to be competitive in the South Independent Rugby Conference (SIRC) and then to the Southeastern Collegiate Rugby Conference (SCRC). Marc Holley took over the reigns in 2019 and led the Tigers to their first ever SCRC Division II Conference title. 

Along the way, it became clear that the post of Head Coach was a significant time challenge for any volunteer coach. The responsibility of club management, fundraising, scheduling, training, and game day management were all very time consuming.

White's availability seemed to be a sign for Memphis. The former HS All American and Arkansas State player also played in Australia for the West Brisbane Bulldogs. 

“Coach White has the talent, temperament and skills to take the Tigers to the next level,” said Cole, Tiger Rugby Foundation Chairman. “We are all very excited about his passion for our players, Tiger Rugby traditions, and the City of Memphis.”

White is currently meeting with volunteer Tiger coaching staff, players and supporters and making plans for the spring season. SCRC moved their 15s schedule to the spring and still hope for a 7s tournament in November 2020. While he waits for rugby to return to the University of Memphis, White has been coaching the Junior Blues in a limited fall 15s season.