Returning Champions Delaware Hope To Continue Reign
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – April 18, 2017 – The Philadelphia Championship Cup Division winners of 2016, the University of Delaware Blue Hens will be returning to the Penn Mutual Collegiate Rugby Championship this year. They are hoping to claim this title again and aim for the main of 2017 Penn Mutual Collegiate Rugby Champion, but their story still feels like one of an underdogs.
Although the Blue Hens had an outstanding performance at last year’s event, the success came after the team’s suspension due to disciplinary issues in the summer of 2013. A large and rowdy beginning of the semester party attracted the attention of the cops and frustrated the school administration said they were implementing a five year suspension.
The team’s now President, Grayson Haynes, recalls that practice was cancelled one day the third week of school, right after the team’s first game the prior weekend. Later that day the team was followed up with the news. “It just flipped my world upside down like, ‘Wow my next four years are just- I don’t know what I’m going do. I don’t know if I’m going to transfer or what. I was kind of lost,” recalled Haynes, who decided to attend Delaware after seeing them play at the CRC while a junior and senior in high school.
With the university’s team out of commission, some student-athletes turned to a local club to keep playing, the Wilmington Rugby Football Club. Over the years the team had been host to a variety of alumni because of its location and it was being coached by Struan Murray, who had been an assistant coach for the University of Delaware since 2009.
In the meantime, Haynes and other students worked hard to try and reestablish a relationship with the university and sent in an appeal to the school. Ultimately the team talked down the length of their suspension with the total disbandment of two years. For its return, Murray came back to the campus with the students as well but this time in the role of head coach.
“The school was actually at the table sort of leading the effort. They were much more hands on and supportive when setting up the success coming back. So we had school, alumni, parents, all sort of working together on it. Everyone had a vested interest in it being a success,” explained Murray. “It’s been really fair. So I’ve got nothing but good stuff to say about the school from that perspective. I think without their guidance and help it wouldn’t have worked.”
After proving themselves the first year back in the Philadelphia Championship Cup Division at the CRC, the Blue Hens have attracted a lot of interest with a 65-70 player roster this year. Coach Murray says the team seems to average 15-20 guys who have never picked up a rugby ball before, but the bigger challenge now is that the team is still on the younger side. However, Haynes sees this as an advantage in terms of recruiting, citing how great it’s been for recruits to hear they will get playing time immediately. An immediate point of pride and success is recent alumni Chris Mattina who graduated last year and was selected to play for the USA Falcons, a developmental USA Rugby 7s team, in tournaments in Uruguay and Chile this past January.
“We brought the team back early and built a good relationship with the school. So now we’re back and I’m just happy to bring it full circle and finally be competing in the actual Collegiate Rugby Championship,” said Haynes. “I’m happy we’re back and more than anything we just want to talk about the future, you know?”
About United World Sports:
United World Sports (UWS) is the largest commercial rugby entity in the United States, and the owner and operator of a growing portfolio of dynamic sports, media and apparel brands including, the USA Sevens Rugby international tournament, the largest professional rugby event in North America; the Penn Mutual Collegiate Rugby Championship, the premier college 7s rugby championship; and the Penn Mutual Varsity Cup Championship, the 15s national rugby championship. Through its apparel division, UWS owns the exclusive North and South American license for Rhino Rugby, one of the world’s leading rugby apparel and equipment brands. UWS also owns and operates RugbyToday.com, the largest and most widely read media destination dedicated to American rugby. For more information about UWS and its properties, visit: http://www.unitedworldsports.com.
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