Lindenwood University, a four-year liberal arts institution located in St. Charles, Missouri, has announced the launch of a varsity rugby program and subsequent scholarship funding of one of the most comprehensive college programs in America. The move has enabled head coach Ron Laszewski to travel nationally to competitions such as the Rocky Mountain Challenge to recruit elite-level players for classes in the fall term and the future.
Laszewski credits Lindenwood’s progressive approach to varsity sports and its thorough research regards the growth of high school rugby in the U.S., and their recognition of the sport’s potential. In addition to freshman and transfer signees, an existing domestic and international student base will supplement the university’s rugby program.
Lindenwood rugby scholarships range from partial to full depending on various factors such as academics, test scores, rugby ability, athletic honors in all sports and character. Varsity rugby student athletes receive tuition assistance, on-campus housing, all meals, all travel expenses (with per diem meal allotments), uniforms and teamwear. Athletic trainers and strength and conditioning personnel will be in attendance at all training sessions and matches. The student rugby athletes will be able to avail themselves of varsity weight, meeting, video, and locker rooms as well as access to Lindenwood’s high intensity training (HIT) center. Varsity athletes are eligible for an additional $2,400-per-year in work study funds.
The coaching staff will also include four assistant coaches including an Australian graduate assistant who, as a player, came through the Brumbies Academy. In return for earning his MBA, the GA will concentrate on rugby-specific tasks of coaching the three-quarter line, film analysis, recruiting, and one-on-one player development beyond training.
Lindenwood has signed a few southern hemisphere recruits such as Randwick (Sydney, Australia) leading scorer Brendan Davis. But the majority of players are American with recruits from Colorado, Tennessee, Georgia, California, Missouri, Indiana and other states.
The squad will also feature cross-over athletes such as Lindenwood sophomore sprinter Matthius Harris. Harris has a personal best-time 10.6 100M and is currently tearing up the St. Louis summer 7s league. Laszewski is adamant that his team will be “predominantly an American squad which is vital to the University’s long-term goals as we aim to do our part to help raise the level of rugby in this country.”
In the upcoming 2011-2012 season LU will begin play in DII, but Laszewski intends to advance yearly through the competitive levels as LU’s roster solidifies. Their home pitch, in construction as we go to print, will be fully-functional for the fall matches and will afford the latest in synthetic field technology.
With none of the costly, big-name varsity sports teams to drain the budget, Lindenwood has been able to concentrate on less familiar athletic activities. Lindenwood currently sponsors 48 varsity programs and the payback of 43 national championships in the last 10 years would bear out the wisdom in their choice.