Women’s rugby: Club searches for a fit, funding

Women’s rugby: Club searches for a fit, funding

By Ashley Traupman

The women’s rugby club team successfully made its way to first place in New England, Division II, and a current tanking of sixth in the nation. Its success has allowed the team the opportunity to travel to Florida, and possibly California, for a chance to compete and become No. 1 in the nation. The only thing standing in its way is it may not have enough money to participate in the tournaments.

Before the team can participate in the Elite 8 Tournament in Florida, from April 21 to April 24, it must raise $11,000. If the team wins in Florida, it will then travel to California to compete in the Final Four May 6 to May 7, which would cost an additional $15,000. The cities have not been set.

“I know we will get to Florida, no problem,” captain Emily Dupre said. “But that will be using all of the funds we have. Then we would have two weeks to raise $15,000 [for California]. If we make it to a Final Four spot, without enough money, we would have to withdraw our position. We’d forfeit, which would be awful.”

The school has offered the rugby team a $1,500 bonus, which only covers lodging in Florida. The team must fund raise all of the additional money needed for these trips. So far, the players have been fundraising by seeking donations, organizing bake sales and peddling raffle tickets.

“We’re a club sport, so technically we are supposed to be raising all of our own money,” team treasurer Stacey Markovic said.

Although the women’s rugby club sport team is a part of the athletic department, it is still technically a club. The athletic department does not give the club teams any money, and when the team appealed to the Budget Review Committee (BRC) last semester, it refused the team any financial support.

BRC was unable to fund the rugby team because “student club sports all fall under Campus Recreation,” Student Government Association Vice President for Financial Affairs Billy Haddad said.

The Campus Recreation Department handles and funds all club sports, but it has a limited budget to disperse to club sports as the program grows.

“What people do not understand is that we might be part of the athletic department, but we don’t get the perks of being a part of the athletic department because we are a club sport,” Markovic said. “Even though we are a club, we don’t get the perks of being a club at this school. SGA would willingly give money to a club that has nothing to do with sports, but they won’t give it to us. So we are kind of caught between the two programs. It is like our club is in overlap, but what we are getting is not.”

The club sport program at Northeastern has grown a lot during the last two years. There are 38 teams and over 800 athletes – up from 19 sports and 400 athletes.

Each club sport team is awarded $1,250 for operating costs each season. An additional $1,250 is placed in a general fund for teams that need extra money in special circumstances.

“The budget is being eaten up pretty quickly because there are so many teams using the money,” said Jerry Foster, head of club sports. “The irony is as they get more successful, they need to raise more of their own money.”

As a club sport only in place since 1995, the rugby team has worked hard to make it to where they are now.

“When I started playing my freshman year, we were pretty much a ragtag team,” senior biology major and team captain Samantha Perino said. “We have put in five solid years working to go to Florida. We have finally reached the point where we’re getting rewarded. It would be a shame not being able to go to Florida because of lack of funds. We’ve worked so hard for it.”

Since the team has had a successful season, it has been invited to move up to Division I next fall. The girls hope to move into a varsity team role but do not see this as an option in the near-future.

“It’s hard for us because all rugby is club everywhere pretty much, there might be a few exceptions of varsity rugby teams,” Dupre said. “We’re playing basically at a varsity level. Club is rugby, it’s not a lower version of rugby.”

For a club sport to gain varsity status and compete for a national Championship, there must be 40 teams, and as of now this is not the case.

Coach Michael Roy believes the school should be responsible for paying for the trip.

“We’ve earned this,” Roy said. “The school, I think, should fund a good portion of our trip because they’re students here; they pay the same tuition as everyone else.”

The team also wants to participate in the tournament to bring recognition to Northeastern, a school not known for its club athletic programs.

“We all have a lot of school pride and school spirit and we want to go to these places to represent Northeastern and come home with a trophy,” Perino said. “It would be a shame to not be able to do that, for our school, because we couldn’t afford it.”

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