Fall 2005

After virtually 40 years of great success at the highest levels of both Club and Collegiate Mens Rugby competition, Brown University’s rugby program has been floundering for the last five years and has now reached a low ebb with only 4 victories and 18 defeats over the last three seasons.

This fall we lost all of our league matches and were able to beat the University of Massachusetts in a post season match that allowed us to play a few additional matches; however, these matches were not for any ranking.

In our weekly match reports we could not hide from some of our results such as our 74-0 loss to Harvard and our 95-0 loss to Boston College. Unfortunately over the past five years we have had some very big losses, but without a weekly report, your reporter was able to avoid publishing the score.

So what will the coaches and players and hopefully the University do to move the program forward?

The first point I have mentioned before: with no slots for rugby players available in the admissions process, we will have to take what admissions provides. But I am surprised that Harvard and Dartmouth, currently two very good rugby schools, are so far ahead of Brown in accepting guys who have played the game. With rugby’s international reach, this is a sport that fits the international profile that Brown seems to be promoting. But at the moment, there just seems to be very few students at Brown, aside from recruited athletes, who played sport at a reasonable high level. Until we are able to convince Brown that excellent student/athletes, preferably from foreign rugby playing countries, are worth having for both their academic and athletic talents, we will have to make due with what is currently admitted.

Secondly, we began a process last year to focus our efforts on freshmen and sophomore recruits. Last year we recruited well and this fall’s squad, in spite of our record, was the best squad we have had in many years. In spite of the record, attendance remained strong, enthusiasm was high, and our second XV enjoyed a 5 wins, 1 loss and 1 tie fall season. We ended the season with 17 juniors, 12 sophomores and 14 freshmen. At least 5 freshmen played some first XV rugby this fall.

We have just voted for new officers for calendar 2006. This group will lead the club through the spring and next fall’s league season. In order to enhance our administration, we have elected many more players to jobs and have made recruiting our most important job for the spring.

The major problem with this fall’s squad was simply a lack of size and strength. I applaud everyone’s effort, but we were just out-manned. So our primary focus will be to make sure we search every corner of the campus to discover anyone who has the size, speed, attitude and interest to allow us to be more competitive at our level. We will know this spring if we have been successful.

Our spring season looks promising. We have decided to play local Rhode Island teams which will allow us to make match day decisions during March and early April when the weather is so unsettled. Also, all of these teams are second division clubs, not the physical powerhouses we were pitted against last fall. If we can win some matches and gain some new talent, skill and confidence, we will enter the fall season well ahead of last September.