When Ryan stepped on campus in 2015, you could tell that he was a good rugby player. The self proclaimed 'chubby kid' had a good knowledge of the game and skill set thanks to his father, Ed, who had played quite a bit of rugby previously and his Blue Valley High School coach and KJRFC Alumni, Matt O'Donnell. He also played a semester abroad at the University of Newcastle in New South Wales, Australia. He came back to KJRFC after his semester abroad with a whole new tenacity and knowledge of the game. His junior year he was one of only 100 rugby players nationally to be invited to All American Camp, and 1 of only a handful of players invited from a DIaa school. Flash forward to 2019 and Ryan leaves KU with a legacy of being a great rugby player. He helped lead KU to two consecutive appearance in nationals. He has been to Ireland, New Zealand, and Scotland/Wales on tours with KJRFC, was this years captain, a Red Jacket Society member, and a previous Kernow Cup recipient. He's a three time Heart of America Collegiate team member that played in Aspen, Colorado. Ryan was an all around player. He could play hooker, anywhere in the back row, and anywhere in the backline. He could throw in at the lineout, make crunching spot tackles, kick to relieve pressure or for touch. He hit the line with blinding pace and could put his teammates into space with a short pop pass or wide spin pass. He is a complete rugby player and was a joy to watch on the field. Ryan was injured this past September in Aspen playing for the HOA and missed all of our league games in the Fall. We lost two close matches, both within 7 points, and there is no doubt had he played, those matches would have had different outcomes. He was that type of player. He elevated the team when he was on the field and never left anything in the tank at the end of the game. We asked Ryan some questions about his time with the club and here are his responses.
What are your plans after graduation?
"I am going to work for Burns and McDonnell in Kansas City, MO. "
What did you like about the rugby club?
"The thing I liked most about the rugby club would definitely be the people I got to play with. I have made lifelong friendships and memories thanks to the club."
What is your fondest memory with KJRFC?
"One of my fondest memories would probably be when we were on tour in New Zealand. I hadn't seen anyone in months since I was studying abroad and then we all went out together that night and had an awesome time."
What would you tell incoming players about the club?
"One thing I would tell incoming players would be just soak it all in. Especially as a freshman it's difficult navigating your way through college but being a part of the club provides amazing opportunities to travel, build friendships, and become a better version of yourself. So I'd say just take advantage of every opportunity you can get with the club."
Do you plan on playing rugby after graduation?
"At the moment I will likely take a season off from rugby to let my body reboot and then will likely play the following season."
Best to you Ryan with all that comes next. Rock Chalk Jayhawk!
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