By Brittany Muntz
DAVENPORT — St. Ambrose University students may soon discover there’s a new kind of football on campus — and this kind doesn’t involve padding.
Rugby, the game to which American football owes its sentimental beginnings, is in the works of being introduced to St. Ambrose as a new club sport.
St. Ambrose junior Andrew Roos has been working closely with Student Activities and Campus Recreation to get a rugby club started on campus. And while the club is not official, its future looks promising.
“If the students want a rugby club, I think we have some responsibility as a university to help them get to that goal,” Director of Student Engagement Jason Richter said.
All of the preliminary documents for the rugby club have been completed and submitted. The USA Rugby Union requires rugby clubs to submit a constitution which outlines the club’s bylaws, officers and advisors. Roos must also present before the St. Ambrose Student Government Association to obtain approval for the rugby club. The presentation cannot occur until liability issues get worked out.
“The only thing holding them back right now is the question of liability, insurance waivers, and making sure the university is covered for that,” Richter said.
Until now, St. Ambrose has never had to consider these issues with club sports. This would be the first full-contact club sport where a team would be playing students from other schools. However, if liability and insurance issues get worked out, St. Ambrose will recognize the club as its official SAU Rugby Football Team.
The rugby club would not be considered a varsity sport and would have no affiliation with the Athletic department. Because of this, the club would be funded differently than other sports on campus.
“At this point the funding is going to be an issue because there is currently no funding for club sports,” Richter said. Currently, the only club sports at Ambrose are Fishing Club and Jiu-Jitsu Club.
All other sports on campus are considered varsity sports or intramurals and receive funding from the university.
The rugby club may appeal to the Student Government Association for funding. The department of Campus Recreation may also help with some preliminary expenses such as uniforms, equipment, or tournaments. However, no funding plans are official. Expenses beyond what university organizations might fund would have to be covered by the team’s fundraising efforts.
“We are already thinking of different fundraising and sponsorship ideas, “Roos said.
Another funding option would be to find a sponsor not affiliated with St. Ambrose. Other rugby clubs, such as the one at University of Iowa, receive funding this way.
If all goes as planned, the rugby club will be competing against other teams starting in spring 2012. The season consists of six regular season games, playoffs and possibly nationals. Competition for the rugby team includes teams from Augustana College in Rock Island, Ill., the University of Iowa, Grinnell College, Hawkeye Community College, and the University of Wisconsin Platteville.
“Teams have already started their fall season so we can’t actually get into a conference until spring,” Roos said.
While the club is not yet official, the team has gotten together for some informal practices to get a feel for the game. The sooner the club gets approved, the sooner the players can start scheduling official practices and scrimmages.
“Right now we’re even looking to get a scrimmage against Augustana College this fall,” Roos said.
So far 36 people have shown interest in joining the club and some students plan to join the club once their varsity sport season ends.
“Anyone who wants to join can join and everyone will be able to play,” Roos said. “We just want to get this thing started so it can be passed on to St. Ambrose generations to come.”
(Brittany Muntz, a senior at St. Ambrose University in Davenport, is news editor for The Buzz and shares this story that she wrote for the student newspaper.)