Please find below a very good article by Alex Goff of www.goffonrugby.com about how college rugby has grown in recent years. Click this link to see pictures of the Dartmouth field and the USMA Clubhouse Rendering.
Shining Lights in College Rugby Illuminate Possibilities
By Alex Goff for Rugby Imports
September 28, 2005 It was a beautiful day the way fall days in New Hampshire can be. The sun glinting off the hospitality tents, the crowd packed around the rugby field, and two exciting, dramatic rugby games to watch.
Such as the opening of the Corey Ford Clubhouse at Dartmouth College in Hanover. Corey Ford was a 1921 graduate of Dartmouth and coach of the rugby team much later. He left his home to the club to be used to finance a clubhouse. Dartmouth Rugby, in its wisdom, decided that if they were going to build a home for rugby, they were going to do it right. They initiated contact with alumni (pictured, along with other photos, courtesy of Rory Goff), and started an effort to raise enough funds for a new field, and a clubhouse with high-ended facilities that looked the part.
Good for them. They did a wonderful job, and anyone who set foot in the Corey Ford Clubhouse will tell you its beautiful, and the field next to it, with the grassy banks all around, is lovely too. But Dartmouth is by no means the only school to do this. Its just the latest in a series of college programs that have tried to leverage a growing rugby alumni population, the improvement in the sports image on campus, and the example of others to say that being a club sport doesnt mean you cant aspire.
Flagship of these types of programs was for many years the University of California Berkeley. And clearly they are masters on the field, have their own rugby field and clubhouse, and are a varsity program. But several other schools challenge Cal for facilities and a presence on campus. Stanford, of course, with their paid coaching positions and rugby stadium, is another obvious example, and the University of Oklahoma has its own field and a clubhouse they are very proud of.
Even DII Arkansas State has its own field. Dartmouth has opened theirs and the United States Military Academy has received a massive donation of over $8 million from Mr. and Mrs. Lee Anderson for the construction of a new field and rugby complex at West Point. Construction is supposed to start in the fall.
Or Penn State, who showed up at PSU administrative offices having already raised $500,000 for the stewardship of their home field and the refurbishment of an existing building to serve as PSU Rugbys headquarters. As it turned out, it has now become more cost-effective to build a new structure next to the field, so that is what they are doing.
This professional, grown-up approach to college rugby finding the alumni, securing donations, acting like grown-ups to college administrations has led to further benefits. Cal becoming a varsity program is one example. Penn State mens and womens rugby being elevated from Club status to “Team Sports” status, a condition between club and varsity, is another.
Administrations are figuring out that these rugby developments are good for the school as a whole. How many Dartmouth alumni are now more involved with their Alma Mater thanks to the opening of the Ford Clubhouse? Anecdotal evidence indicates that these rugby projects increase overall donations to an institution.
So for all those reasons, both for rugby clubs and for college administrations, making an aggressive push to your rugby alumni to donate funds and give your team a true home is a smart move.
But for all that to happen you each have to do something: Clubs. You have to reject the old habits of a try and a beer. Straighten yourself out. Get new jerseys. Have your website be accurate, respectful and celebrate the sport. Dont do anything on the road that makes the administration rescind van privileges. You have to uphold some standards for the administration, and the alumni, to take notice.
And to all the college administrators, many of you are neglecting your duty. You are so quick to devote millions of dollars to varsity sports, but ignore the fact that your rugby teams, even as club sports, are still representing your school. They are not asking for seven figures. They are asking for a decent field to play on and access to locker rooms.
College administrators, you fall all over yourselves to accommodate scholarship athletes, but your refusal to offer even minimal support to a rugby club means you can be endangering full-time students who pay full tuition, and whose parents trust you to protect them. When a school makes the team play on a field built over a landfill, or on a field rife with potholes, or makes no effort to help a team have proper medical care on the sidelines, whos at fault. The school is, and you, we all in fact, need to do better