Women’s Rugby, Golf Begin to Take Shape at Quinnipiac
Published: Monday, September 27, 2010
Updated: Monday, September 27, 2010 10:09
Quinnipiac Athletics ushered in a new era this past Wednesday, as QU held information sessions for current students that are interested in joining the new women's golf and rugby teams. Both teams hope to start play by the spring of this year with hopes of gaining full varsity status by the 2011-2012 academic year.
The university was forced to add the two women's teams after a U.S. District Judge ruled that Quinnipiac was not complying with Title IX regulations. The university had attempted to add competitive cheerleading as a sport, but the court ruled that the sport was not developed enough to be considered a Division I sport under NCAA regulations. Quinnipiac was then forced to scramble to increase its participation in women's athletics.
"[Women's golf and women's rugby] have always been on the radar," Quinnipiac Athletic Director Jack McDonald said. "They've always been sports that we've been thinking about. When it was time to add them, they were the first two to come to mind."
While the university has begun the process of identifying women's golf and women's rugby as official sports, their male counterparts appear to still be on the backburner. New Blue Rugby has been an established non-university recognized club sport for several years, while the men's golf program was cut in March 2009.
"Rugby for men and women at this point is clearly something we hope to do," McDonald said. "The timing is not right for the 2010-2011 academic year. It's something that's been discussed and I think every administrator on campus knows that it's something we'd like to do. It probably will happen but I just don't know when."
McDonald said there were no current plans to add men's golf back to the university.
About 30 people showed up for the rugby session and McDonald played the girls a video showcasing the sport of women's rugby. Quinnipiac would be the fifth NCAA program, and only the second at the Division I level (Eastern Illinois is the other) to provide women's rugby as a varsity sport. The significance of adding a women's rugby team at Quinnipiac did not go unnoticed by potential players who attended the info session.
"It's really good for the sport, not just Quinnipiac, but the sport in general. I think it's going to be a little rough, but I think it will be good," said senior physical therapy major Rachel Nash. "There are always some growing pains, but in the end it will be fun and a good experience."
McDonald said that they were in the process of finalizing an agreement with a head coach. He would not identify the candidate, but he said that the coach has experience on both the college and national rugby levels. The university hopes to be able to announce the coach within the next month or so.
Of the 30 women who attended the session, only a handful of them had actually played rugby before. Most had played other sports such as softball and lacrosse in high school, and had only played rugby in an unorganized format. With such a lack of hands on experience, a slow start could be expected from a team built from scratch.
"At first we might not be very successful, but over the years it's definitely going to be recognized more and more," Nash said. "It's hard to see it happening right off the bat, but there's definitely a lot of interest [in rugby]."
The women hope to get started with scrimmages and practices during the spring semester. They were also invited by the coach of the Yale women's rugby club team to practice with them once QU has a team assembled.
"Yale's one of the most renowned institutions in the world," McDonald said. "It's pretty cool to have a big brother or big sister like that offer to help and that is really special."
About a dozen women attended the golf session that immediately followed, and McDonald announced that former men's golf coach John O'Connor is in line to become the women's coach. The team hopes to hold tryouts in a few weeks. The school hopes to be able to have a few players qualify for the Northeast
Conference Championships which are being held in Daytona Beach, Fla. this year, but at this point that possibility seems unlikely. The team will become an official sport in the 2011-2012 academic calendar year.