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The news site of Marywood University

The Wood Word

The news site of Marywood University

The Wood Word

Marywood rugby switched from athletic program to club team

Marywood rugby switched from athletic program to club team
Photo credit/ Kelsey Van Horn

In April of 2023, the Marywood men’s and women’s rugby teams underwent a drastic change, moving from an athletic program to a club team. But Athletic Director Andrew Smith said some social media posts about the change are untrue.

“There have been several falsehoods posted on social media channels regarding the changes to the rugby program – most notably that athletics ’cut’ or ‘demoted’ them,” Smith said.

He emphatically said this change for the rugby programs is not a cut or demotion, but instead a switch that will benefit the teams and give them more autonomy on how they are run.

“The bottom line is the status of the men’s and women’s rugby programs have not changed at all, they just moved from where they were ‘housed’ – from Athletics to Student Engagement,” said Smith.

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According to Smith, this change falls in line with how other Division III, regional and conference schools have their rugby programs organized. This includes many schools in each team’s athletic conference – the men compete in MARC and the women in EPRU. Additionally, with “more than adequate budget” being transferred from Athletics to the Office of Student Engagement, the student athletes will have control over how they decide to spend their budget. They will also continue to have full access to campus vans and facilities, which Smith says is something many other schools do not allow. Further effects of the change in housing include team members having to sign less compliance paperwork, no necessary medical forms and no compliance meetings or seminars.

However, sophomore men’s rugby captain Gavin Daye did not echo Smith’s sentiments. Daye said when the news first broke to the rugby programs, the reaction among players was generally negative.

“It showed that the school didn’t really care about us. They really didn’t care about us to begin with. We didn’t get treated as well as other sports did,” said Daye.

On the financial side, Daye claimed they have a significantly smaller budget this year, making it difficult to cover gear and gas costs for away games. Their budget can only cover transportation costs, and “even that is cutting it close,” added Daye.

“We don’t have a semester budget, we have a yearly budget, and even then it’s less,” Daye said.

Daye also felt that the rugby programs did not receive as much attention or recognition, though he noted that has slightly changed over the months since the change happened.

“I think we get a little more attention, but that’s just with the uptake in new student engagement social media presence. I see a lot more rugby posts now, especially with us and the girls’ team,” Daye said.

Since they are now a club team, both the men and womens’ teams no longer have paid coaches. Instead, experienced upperclassmen take on those roles, with the men’s team coached by a senior and the women being coached by a grad student. With no coaches, the student players manage everything from travel to match setups.

“On the business side of things, like paying for vans and transport, and all the gear stuff is taken care of by students. The other captain, Rubane [Singh], who’s the president of the rugby club, takes care of all that kind of stuff, like setting up games,” Daye explained.

Although there is more pressure on the students to manage their own program, Daye said things seem to be running more smoothly when compared to last season, with the players now having more control over their program and the ability to make their own decisions.

“Last year kind of felt like a dictatorship. I didn’t enjoy going to practice as much because I didn’t really vibe with the coach, but this year I enjoy going to practice a lot more,” said Daye. “It’s a lot more fun, better vibes, everybody gets along better than they did last year.”

Though Smith asserted the rugby program’s departmental swap wasn’t meant to be a demotion, Daye feels differently about it.

“I do feel insulted by it, I understand where he [Smith] is coming from but I do feel a little insulted by it. I think we worked hard as a team, both the guys and girls. The guys last year, we were one of the better teams in our conference, and the girls went to nationals last year, and I don’t even think the school posted about it.”

Contact the writer: [email protected]

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About the Contributors
Jack Biggs
Jack Biggs, Assistant Sport Editor
Jack Biggs is a sophomore Multimedia Communications major with a focus in Sports Media and is an Assistant Sports Editor for the Wood Word. Biggs also DJs for 91.7 VMFM and is a member of Marywood's tennis and esports teams. Outside of school, Biggs spends hours watching his favorite sports teams lose in classic Pittsburgh fashion.
Kelsey Van Horn
Kelsey Van Horn, Design Editor
Kelsey Van Horn is a junior graphic design major, and she holds the Design Editor position at The Wood Word. She is currently interested in publication and web design and is hoping those areas of interest get incorporated into her future career. Kelsey additionally enjoys illustration and art history. When she's not in a computer lab working diligently, she's most likely spending time at the gym or at home on the yoga mat. She has a strong interest in health, nutrition, fitness, and general wellbeing.
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