By REUBEN GEORGE
It is safe to say every student athlete’s dream is to play at the highest level of college sports. The University of Mary Washington men and women rugby programs have fulfilled that dream.
Once a club sport, both men’s and women’s teams have recently become recognized by the school as NCAA Division I and II teams respectively. Under the direction of coaches Min Sae Chase and Tim Brown, the men’s team finished third of 11 teams in conference play this past year, including a very strong performance in the national tournament, the Cherry Blossom.
In becoming an official Division I program, the team joined the newly created Chesapeake Collegiate Rugby Conference. In joining athletics, the rugby program receives a number of benefits that they had not in the past and the various other athletes at Mary Washington currently receive.
They have access to the varsity weight room, they are able to work with the varsity fitness coaches and the athletic department will further encourage the attendance of the rugby games and matches.
Last year, the University of Mary Washington imposed sanctions on Mother’s Rugby, the men’s team, for violating the UMW code of conduct. With the help of returning players and recruits both internationally and locally, Mothers rugby is excited about the opportunity given to them by UMW to build and better their program. The men’s program has welcomed 13 new players including three top transfers, five never domestic freshman and five freshman from overseas.
“It will be a challenging year,” said junior Ryan Iskowitz. The level of competition will be higher and according to Iskowitz the team has built a “rigorous program, hired a new fitness coach and employed two alumni who are ex-players,” to help direct this program to the path of success. Coach Tim Brown says, “The guys are really excited and up for the challenge,” which he says is improved at noted by the, “excellent team chemistry.”
Mother’s Rugby will be in action this weekend against the Nova men’s rugby team, which includes some former Mary Washington rugby players. They will host their official Division I home opener against nationally-ranked Towson St., Saturday, Sep. 17 at 1:30pm at their new battleground field. Iskowitz, Brown and the rest of the Mary Washington men’s rugby team are very excited for this opportunity and we are all prepared to cheer on our first ever division I program.
If you are interested in viewing the women’s team they have one on sept. 10 at Old Dominion and their first home game is Sept. 17 against Longwood at 10am.