By CHRIS MARKHAM
Two of the most prestigious programs at the University of Mary Washington are the men’s and women’s club rugby teams. The teams’ long history of success at the highest level is what puts them over the top of other programs in Virginia and puts them in the conversation with other top-tier rugby teams in the country.
The men’s rugby team, also known as Mother’s Rugby, was recently recognized for this history of success by receiving a reputable sponsorship, one that is sure to add a lot of buzz and excitement to the already gifted program. UMW agreed to a five-year sponsorship deal with Canterbury of New Zealand, one of the premier rugby apparel providers in the world.
“They are supposed to be one of the biggest sponsors in rugby right now,” sophomore flanker Brandon Lough said. “Having them sponsor us here at Mary Washington will help us a lot.”
Canterbury is a sports clothing company that focuses on rugby but also supplies gear for cricket and other sports. The company distributes primarily to rugby-playing nations, creating one of the most unique brands in sports.
With the sponsorship comes an array of new gear for Mother’s Rugby. New jerseys, shorts, socks and scrum caps are just some of the equipment the team can expect in 2014.
The new sponsorship provides the team with a world-class image. Canterbury is very much considered the Nike of the Rugby world. Whereas Nike sponsors the NFL, many international and professional rugby teams across the world are sponsored by Canterbury.
“It will help us get more recognized by other teams on the east coast or even in the United States,” Lough said.
Since Mother’s Rugby is a club, the team receives little funding from the school. Adding a well-known sponsor to the program is sure to bolster recruiting and performance on the field.
“It will help us with recruiting because this year we’ve recruited 12 guys for the men’s team, and with Canterbury we can get even more,” Lough said.
Canterbury joins Coldwell Banker Elite, Sheetz, Castiglias, the Parisi Speed School, Orthopaedic Specialty Clinic, LineX, Cowboy Jack’s and the UMW Foundation as the sponsor of the Mother’s Rugby program.
Mother’s Rugby competes during both the fall and spring seasons, but practices virtually year-round. The team has already played two games this year, winning one of them. They have four more games slated for the fall, including a scrimmage on Saturday, Sept. 20 at James Madison University.
Later in the semester UMW will face off against a slew of universities across Virginia, including Longwood University, Old Dominion University, the College of William and Mary and Emory & Henry College.
“After we lost a lot of our best players to graduation, we are rebuilding and we look pretty solid right now,” Lough said.