BEING A JAYHAWK RUGBY PLAYER:
A game and a life like no other.
By Bob Tucker
The Kansas Rugby Foundation – President Elect
I didn’t want to miss an opportunity to visit with you about what we have going on at KU Rugby. 34 of us alumni of this rugby club just returned from our annual “Golf Rodeo”, this year in Austin, at the Barton Creek resort. Most of us played 3 rounds of golf at this Omni property. Well, some would call it golf.
But the most important part of this trip was renewing our old friendships and starting some new ones. On my count, there were about 7 or 8 guys that were new on the trip. These guys were mostly from generations younger than I am. And they were a great addition to the trip. I was impressed with these guys when I met them. There are a lot of entrepreneurs and business owners that are successful in their own right. I retired a couple years ago after pounding the corporate nail for 40 years. Having an annual trip to enjoy some warmer weather with the Jayhawk rugby alumni is a great way to get rid of the winter blahs!
In addition to golf, we talked a lot about how involvement in a team sport like rugby contributes to our life. Rugby draws a unique sort of talent. Not necessarily one that is on the usual beaten path. I think that unique features and attraction to rugby is one we need to consider. Most of us had athletic backgrounds. Football, basketball, wrestling, track. Maybe baseball. Or something else. But one thing for certain; a desire to have the comradery of a club sport, where you lead, and you get the work done. No one else was going to do it for you. The jerseys. Lining the field. Administration. Even coaching and many times refereeing the match.
Today our sport is different. We have the benefit of many student athletes that started in high school. Women’s rugby is part of our community. And kids are playing in the USA at the middle and grade school level. Not just boys, but girls too! The result is fantastic. I visited with club alum DARRYL LANE about his background. He has coached 3 girls’ high school state championship teams in Colorado. And he has been instrumental in finding money in the form of scholarships for many of these girls to attend college. Schools on the east and west coast are using rugby to give women team sports opportunity! I can tell you college campus recruiters are looking for academic excellence, but also want well rounded talent. Rugby requires grit, it requires time management, and it instills leadership qualities in its participants.
No wonder rugby is one of the fastest growing youth sports in our nation.
We have a lot of other Jayhawk rugby alumni that are business leaders and also lead rugby organizations nationwide. I was impressed with hearing of the expanding impact playing rugby at KU has had in people’s lives. We’ll have more on that in the future.
As Jayhawks, our goal, our vision, and our mission is to grow the sport of rugby. Not only locally and regionally, but nationwide and even internationally. We are one of the only clubs with our level of alumni support, coupled with international touring like we’ve done bi-annually since the first tour in 1977. As well, we have hosted international players that have been our friends for life. Do you know of any other sport where this is being done? Or even possible?
It’s a long way away from the old days when a keg of beer and some songs, maybe even a Zulu or two, was our way of life after games. How do we do it? KU Rec Services has a budget for us. The collegiate team earns it based on a scorecard. Players have dues. Parents donate on “crowd funding” for seasonal expenses like buses for game travel. And our alumni are very active.
We can use your support. If you are able and have a desire to give back, we make it easy. I know rugby has been valuable to me. And more so later in life. SAVE THE DATE, May 1 and 2 for our ALUMNI WEEKEND. See your friends you haven’t seen in years. Get together with us in Lawrence. And if you can give back; know we manage your gift wisely. Tap the donate button at www.JayhawkRugby.com. We appreciate seeing you when you can make it to town. Rugby: a game and a life like no other.
The Kansas Rugby Foundation – President Elect
The Kansas Rugby Foundation, Inc. is a 501(c)3 charity created to raise funds to pay for the operating expenses of the Westwick Rugby Complex and to supplement the funding of the Kansas Jayhawks Rugby Football Club. Its Board of Directors is mostly made up of past rugby club presidents, past team captains, a parents’ representative, and 2 current players. The charity was created a quarter century ago.
Westwick Rugby Complex, E 1094 Road, Lawrence, KS, United States 66047 --- Mail to: The Kansas Rugby Foundation Inc. P.O. Box 1182 Lawrence, KS 66044