Renaissance of Rugby Football at Wheeling Jesuit University

Wheeling Jesuit Rugby

(From left are Rugby match secretary and conditioning coach Chip Hulbert, President Rick Beyer and Athletic Director Danny Sancomb.)

Wheeling, WV, Dec. 13, 2011 --- After an 18-year hiatus, Rugby Football is making its comeback to Wheeling Jesuit University. Rugby was first established at Wheeling Jesuit University in 1967 when its first match was played against powerhouse Notre Dame. From 1967 to 1994, Wheeling Jesuit teams regularly played schools such as Penn State, University of Pittsburgh and Ohio State. In one of its most successful seasons, WJU ruggers beat both Ohio State and Penn State.

Wheeling Jesuit will play its first match in September 2012. Matches against Georgetown, Boston College, and Army, as well as teams in the tri-state (West Virginia, Ohio, and Pennsylvania) area are being scheduled. The team also is planning an international tour to Argentina for its 2013 season.

During its 30-year existence at Wheeling Jesuit, Rugby was an organized club sport run by its students. With its renaissance, Wheeling Jesuit will launch its Rugby program as a full varsity sport, which will include scholarships for qualified athletes.

President Richard Beyer said, “Our Alumni ruggers have been especially pleased with the decision to return Rugby as a varsity sport. The game of Rugby has a strong Jesuit tradition and offers an opportunity for the University to participate at a high level of competition.”

Assisting with the launch of the new Rugby team is Chip Hulbert, the team’s conditioning coach. A resident of Washington, D.C., Hulbert recently joined the WJU staff and is heading-up recruiting in the Mid-Atlantic states. A decorated veteran of the United States Army, Hulbert has coached and participated in numerous endurance events including the JFK 50-Miler and Ironman triathlons.

“Study, sportsmanship and community service at home and abroad are expected of the ruggers,” Hulbert said. “I am especially pleased about our plans to compete against teams in other countries. These opportunities will provide life-changing experiences for our players who visit other cultures and reflect on life in America compared to the global village.”

As a varsity sport, the Rugby program will report to Athletic Director, Danny Sancomb. “We have conducted a national search and expect to announce our head coach prior to the end of the month,” said Sancomb. “We will have our first Rugby combine for high school recruits on Jan. 14 with a goal to have a 45-man roster filled by the spring of 2012.”

A global leader in academic excellence, undergraduate research and service learning, Wheeling Jesuit University is one of the 28 Jesuit colleges and universities in the United States. Wheeling Jesuit has earned a place among America's Best Colleges by Forbes Magazine since its rankings began. Wheeling Jesuit has also been recognized by U.S. News & World Report as a top regional university for the past 14 years.

The University's 20 varsity sports include 19 men and women's NCAA Division II athletic teams and its USA Rugby Program. Jesuit teams have won 61 conference championships and boast 45-plus Academic All-Americans.

Written by: Maureen Zambito, Wheeling Jesuit University Public Relations Director

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