The rugby team’s successful season was the Cinderella story of the year at the University of Dallas. Their accomplishments, both on the field and in fundraising, were nothing short of cinematic.
The team ended last season with 13 losses and only one win. The team was struggling on the field, and had a less than desirable reputation off the field.
Thanks, in large part, to the acquisition of some new coaches, the team has now been able to go undefeated this year and travel to California to compete in the playoffs.
Other club sports, however, are struggling to get off the ground. What can they learn from the Hoggies’ success?
The first major steps toward rebuilding the rugby program was revamping the coaching staff.
“[The new coaches] made it very clear that we were now held to a higher standard and then made us run for what seemed like a year,” junior Mike McCallum said.
McCallum believes that this new emphasis on physical discipline, as well as a new mindset, contributed heavily to rugby’s success.
Senior Jack Teller believes that once the coaches stepped on the field for the first game, the team knew this season would be an incredibly stark contrast to their past struggles.
“They had changed the way we played the game, with a firm offensive structure, but also how we thought about the game,” Teller said.
This new structure served the team so well that they went against some of the best college rugby teams in the nation.
Rugby’s success has been an inspiration to other club sports to not only change the way they play, but the way they think and recruit.
When recruiting, current players can walk around with a ball and simply toss it to random people around campus, asking them if they’ve heard of the game. Other sports-related clubs have a different approach.
For example, UD Ultimate, rugby’s younger and leaner club sport sibling, recruits through inviting just about anybody to play frisbee with them in the fall semester.
Ultimate also has a women’s team, which is coincidentally larger in numbers than the men’s team. But the team is looking at steady and continuous growth, as it is still a newly established fledgling club.
UD Swim has also had some great numbers at their meets, and are looking at continued growth in the coming years. Swim club is an even younger club than UD Ultimate, yet it has gained popularity unprecedented for its age.
What can be learned from rugby’s success? Stay the course, become more established, and keep up an energetic, inclusive and infectious competitive spirit.