The Notre Dame College men’s rugby team concluded its inaugural schedule in the National Small College Rugby Organization Great Lakes Conference with an unblemished 5-0 record to win the East Division Championship. The Falcons now move on to the regional championships on Oct. 27 and 28 that will be played at Notre Dame’s Green Road Rugby Pitch.
Notre Dame was selected to host the Great Lakes Rugby Conference Playoffs which will consist of a four-team bracket featuring NDC, Denison University, Cedarville University, and Calvin College (MI). The winner of that tournament will progress to the Midwest conference playoffs with an eventual shot at a USA Rugby National Championship.
Notre Dame introduced rugby as a men’s and women’s scholarship club sport this fall. The men’s team is made up of 23 student-athletes, some with previous rugby experience and some newcomers to the sport. This combination of experience levels and personalities clicked from the start as the Falcons tallied five consecutive victories (against Ashland University, Cleveland State University, Hiram College, The Ohio State University and John Carroll University) to capture the conference title. In doing so, the Falcons decisively outscored their opponents by a total score of 141-53 (NDC defeated Hiram by forfeit).
"The club has really come together and is playing as a very cohesive team,” said Brian McCue, NDC’s director of rugby. “They have worked at a very high rate to get this far. Their discipline and extra effort in off-day workouts and pushing themselves hard in training has given Notre Dame a great advantage over our opponents."
NDC initiated its rugby program in response to the growing nationwide attraction of club sports and the powerful influence they have in attracting and retaining students. Club sports engage students with a shared interest who may decide to switch from a college varsity program. Club teams also build camaraderie and offer alternative sports that other schools do not provide.
“Offering a greater variety of extracurricular activities is a low-cost way to boost retention and engage current students looking to connect with the school and their peers in a way that fosters teamwork, competitiveness and a chance to be a part of an established group,” said Brian Emerson, NDC’s dean of students.
As an added bonus, scholarships are available for new students who qualify and participate in club sports, in a similar way as provided to students who participate in the College’s band, choir and theatre programs.