By Michael Otero
Add women’s rugby to the long list of sports at Post. The announcement was made on Feb. 1 at the Pratt Recreation Center.
Rick Hamilton, senior associate director of recreational sports, had a part in the introduction of the program to Post, and said, “As an institution we are constantly evaluating and exploring ways to create opportunities for women within athletics. Women’s rugby is one of the fastest growing and emerging sports in college athletics.”
Hamilton is right on the money there. In a survey done by the American Sporting Goods Manufacturers’ Association, rugby landed the top spot of fastest growing team sports with over 2 million new players. (A very close second was lacrosse).
For those who aren’t familiar with rugby, it is one of the few full contact sports and the only one offered by the NCAA for women according to usarugby.org. There is physical contact on almost every play, but that’s not all that comes with the sport. “Successful rugby teams combine tackling, speed, strength, agility, passing, kicking and driving for a multifaceted attack.” In comparisons to a traditional American sport, rugby comes closest to football, but is still a vastly different game.
“We believe that women’s rugby will attract student-athletes not only from the region, but national as well. Several institutions in the region have started women’s rugby and have had success with it,” said Hamilton. Some of the division II universities who have started a women’s rugby team include: American International College, Central Washington University and West Chester University.
Bryan Collins, who is the athletic director, said that women’s rugby has great potential at Post. “[Women’s rugby] was not always on our radar. We were looking to increase opportunities for our students, specifically on the female side. We feel this would be a good fit for LIU Post. The popularity has shown great growth.”
In the spring of 2016, the athletics department will hold clinics and practices with the hopes of gathering talent and getting a team together. The plan right now is for women’s rugby to open up as a club sport in 2016-2017 with the intention of moving to varsity a year later.
When asked if a men’s rugby team may be in the works, Hamilton stated, “If there seems to be an interest there, we would explore this as a club opportunity, but not with the intention of moving to varsity status.”