Six years ago, the Chronicle published a story about New Blue Rugby, a club rugby team that held no affiliation with the school. The article mentioned how despite its best efforts, the team could not get recognition from the university.
Today, Quinnipiac still refuses to acknowledge the New Blue Rugby organization. And still, the team is fighting to wear blue and yellow.
The issue that stands between New Blue Rugby and affiliation with the school is one that blocks the way for many other sports on campus. Currently, Quinnipiac does not recognize club sports teams. Quinnipiac Director of Athletics and Recreation Jack McDonald thinks that this may soon change.
“At this point, I think it’s public knowledge that the university is undergoing a study that may lead to us bringing in club sports,” McDonald said.
Even with the inability to participate as a university-recognized group, New Blue Rugby’s efforts over the past two decades has not gone unnoticed.
“Club sports is on the priority list, and there’s many of us who think men’s rugby is on the top of the list,” McDonald said. “That can be attributed to their long-standing desire, excellent organization, and their professionalism.”
Formed in 1990 solely as a club team, the rugby squad made its New Blue name official in 2004, but was relatively passive in attempting to expand its following. The aforementioned article referred to them as one of Quinnipiac’s “hidden gems.”
Brian Monahan, one of this year’s senior captains who has been playing since the fall semester of his freshman year, says that recognition of the team is growing.
“We had a pretty good showing in the fall,” Monahan said of the open tryouts the team hosted. “We had about 40 people show up for that tryout alone, and we expect even more in the spring.”
New Blue, however, is far from the average club team. Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays consist of two-hour practices in the evening, with three hours of conditioning on Wednesdays. Games are on Saturdays, while Sundays and Mondays are dedicated to rest.
Still, Monahan alongside his teammates and alumni are disappointed that the team is not an official part of the Quinnipiac Bobcats family. He says the team is pushing hard to be acknowledged as a club sport, and eventually as a NCAA Division I team.
“With us starting in 2004, we’ve already done all of the things a new team would need to get started,” Monahan said. “I don’t think we’d need as much building as the women’s team needed.”
In early 2010, Quinnipiac came under much fire by the U.S. District Court for not adhering to Title IX, which is a federal requirement that says schools must issue an equal amount of sports scholarships for both male and female athletes. In need of more female varsity sports, the university attempted to add cheerleading as an official sport, though the court refused the request. Women’s rugby was the next option.
Another senior captain of New Blue, Jimmy Whelan, said that the addition of Division I women’s rugby was a huge step for the sport at Quinnipiac.
“Obviously we wanted to lead the way, but what [the women’s team] is doing is fantastic for the school,” Whelan said.
Members of the New Blue squad were present for the women’s team’s historic first home victory versus Marist on Sunday. The decision to support the Bobcats was a sign of the underlying unity that exists between both units, as the women’s team had also shown up the day prior to see New Blue defeat Trinity College, 40-5.
“We were going to be here either way,” Whelan said following the conclusion of the women’s contest. “It’s important that we show each other support all the way.”
While women’s head coach Becky Carlson did not attend the New Blue game, she did speak positively of them and their influence on the sport at the school.
“We’re certainly excited to have rugby here as a varsity sport,” Carlson said following her team’s 23-7 victory over Marist. “And the guys do a good job at setting an example for the school as well.”
As to when club sports may be made part of the Quinnipiac athletic family, McDonald hinted at progress in the near future.
“Currently, I, alongside other members of the Quinnipiac administration are working hard to have club sports in place soon. I won’t say this year, but next academic school year is certainly not out of the question.”
With promising times ahead for club sports, the long-awaited recognition that New Blue Rugby has believed they have been entitled to may soon come to fruition. Until that day, though, they will continue to play as they have been for 21 years.
“The other teams we play, they’re all impressed,” Monahan said. “We just have to keep doing what we’ve been doing and hope for the best.”