14 December 2017
What are the positive experiences the team has had with Rhino training equipment and sled?
We first began to purchase equipment from Rhino during the summer of 2015. Initially, we were drawn to N-Gage scrum Sled, which we were later informed was the only one of its kind in the United States. Immediately, we began to see consistent performance improvements while training with it. The new sled allowed for us to get lower, tighter, and face up against a mock opponent that modulated like an opposing scrum. Following this, we knew that we saw specific enhancements from training with specific rugby made equipment, and not with leftover or unused football gear. Therefore, we decided that in order to further elevate our training abilities, we would place a second order from Rhino. This included the Collision King, Tackle Ring, Hit and Drive Shield, and Single Jackal. Essentially, all equipment helped to improve the team’s rucking and tackling ability. By coupling this equipment together in multistage training exercises we found ways to put our players into many game-like contact scenarios, without the risk of injuries to players during training. For 2017 we are looking to overhaul some more of our older equipment. This includes purchasing several new tackle bags, and another tackle rings.
How has everything you have experienced with Rhino translated into a performance metric, and a level of professionalism for the team?
From a performance perspective, great training equipment helps to create great performance. It’s useful that each specific piece of equipment created by Rhino is designed specifically to enhance a targeted area of your rugby skills. This allows the team’s coaching staff to spend extra time on improving small aspects of the game. Honing in on each player’s strengths and weaknesses. The increase in professionalism has come with getting Rhino team apparel into the hands of every player. Rhino offers professional looking equipment that is not only eye appealing to players and spectators, but also does its primary purpose of being high quality, long lasting training and match apparel. By having all of the individuals on the team, who also excel in so many other areas on campus seen wearing our logo, we are able to generate a conversation about rugby. In turn this drives a positive, professional image that breaks the stereotype of collegiate rugby, of the past, into something that both the players and college administrators want to be a part of.
As F&M Men’s Rugby continues to grow and evolve we are always looking for new ways to innovate and improve how not only we function, but how other teams function as well. Being a leader in bringing an unparalleled level of professionalism into the sport, the program will never not go the extra mile because of financial restrictions. Whether it is to make sure we all are in a polo and khakis leaving a bus, sending players home with commemorative t-shirts form tournaments, or purchasing multiple sizes in the same numbered jersey to ensure a perfect fit, F&M Men’s Rugby spares no expense for exposing its players to the best of the best. With this additional professionalism from the administrative aspect of the program an equal level of professionalism is expected of our players. This includes; staying in good academic standard with the college, not missing classes, showing up to team events in proper attire, and treating everyone we meet and play against with the highest level of respect. This attitude has lead to the programs impeccable reputation as a team that is able to outwork and beat teams while still having grace and class after the contest. We encourage our players to be friendly to opponents after a match regardless of what happened on the pitch. By increasing the level of professionalism of the programs from the top down, F&M Men’s Rugby has worked to gain recognition not off of our short term success, but what we do on a daily basis. We represent the Diplomats Shield on our chest with pride everyday and take nothing for granted.
Using our incredible support network of alumni, family, and friends the team is able do more for the program and individual athletes. This professionalism did not come overnight as F&M Men’s Rugby has been working tirelessly to educate our donors on the importance of making a financial contribution and what it will do for the team. By setting examples to other teams as to how we operate, we hope that they too will adopt a more professional attitude towards the sport to help raise the level of collegiate rugby across the United States.
How long has there been a rugby team at F&M?
Franklin & Marshall Men’s Rugby was established in 1972 and is one of the oldest and most successful clubs within the college. We compete in the Mid-Atlantic Rugby Conference (MARC) and play competitive seasons both in the fall and spring (15’s and Sevens).
Does the school support the program? If so how? What sort of status do you have?
The Men’s Rugby team currently holds a Club Sport status with the college, but in every way possible the team does its best to conduct itself in the same way the NCAA sports do. While our goal will always to have rugby at a fully funded status, the club model has allowed for us to bring on unique athletes into the program. It allows NCAA athletes to enjoy rugby, while also competing in other sports on campus, such as Lacrosse or Football. We pride ourselves on this and continue to seek to evolve our program so that we can be the most competitive, and inclusive team for all members of the Franklin & Marshall athletic community.
We currently receive excellent support from the college, including financial support. Perhaps more importantly however, are the other many privileges that we are granted. The college provides the men’s team with a paid head coach, access to the athletic training room, a varsity coach advisor for each season, a student worker to aid in transportation and match scheduling, four weekly hours of F&M EMS coverage for practices, a full sized pitch and maintenance of said pitch, a HUDL account, the rights to all F&M logos, and various methods of distributing fan gear. The rest of the expenses are covered by player dues which helps to cover the remaining travel expenses, referees, and EMS for matches.
The program also relies heavily on our amazing alumni support. It is through alumni, parent, and booster donations that the team has had the ability to attend large tournaments and postseason matches, as well as support players who cannot afford the cost of playing. We will never deny a player the ability to join, play and experience rugby because of financial reasons. We almost always can work the cost out. And, when needed, we will absorb the cost to play in order to keep a teammate on the pitch.
How has playing in NSCRO organization been? (National Small College Rugby Organization)
Playing in the NSCRO has been one of the best opportunities to help grow our program. The league is well organized and provides the grounds for a very competitive season in both 15’s and Sevens. There is a clear path to national championships and we play teams that Franklin & Marshall College recognizes as equals both academically and athletically. The Sevens National Championship is an amazing event and it was great to go last year and take 4th. There is room to grow in NSCRO to have highly competitive rugby.
How many sides do you field?
We field two sides per season. Our main side is known as our Blue Team while our second developmental side is the White Team. In Fall 15’s play, the Blue Team will play a league match each Saturday, followed by a White Team match against the opposing side’s developmental team. This allows for all players to get the valuable in-match experience needed to turn first time ruggers into invaluable members of the team. During the Spring Sevens Season we also field two sides, often sending them to different tournaments to play as much rugby as possible. By fostering as much of a competitive environment in the program as possible, we try to develop great athletes and teammates.
What are your team’s goals?
● Represent the Diplomat Shield on our chest with pride not only for ourselves, but also for the college.
● Always welcome new teammates regardless of athletic experience, race, background, or financial situation and get them time on the pitch.
● Continually enhance the reputation of the team in the eyes of the Athletic and Academic administration at the College.
● Reach a fully funded status with the College.
● Help grow the sport of Rugby.
● Continue to bring in donations from our alumni, family and friends.
● Expand our coaching staff.
● Widen our recruiting base from the surrounding area, to the national and international Rugby community.
● Consistently pull in at least fifteen incoming players a year.
● Within the next three years earn a MARC Championship title for 15’s and compete in the NSCRO Champions Cup.
● Within three years return to the NSCRO Sevens National Championship and bring home a National Championship for the F&M and Lancaster communities.
● Within the next ten years win the NSCRO National Championship Champions Cup for 15’s.
Coach Larry Carroll, Penn State Rugby ’12, Hooker, Head Coach 2014-Present:
“In the short time I’ve been at Franklin & Marshall I’ve watched as mediocre players turn into great players, quiet players become leaders, and a small social club turn into a national contender. From their play on the field to their involvement in both the community and on campus I think this club is becoming a model for what other clubs around the country should strive to become. I believe this success is entirely due to the quality of the students that F&M attracts. It was apparent from my first practice at Franklin & Marshall that I had a team full of smart, motivated individuals who wanted not only to see their club survive, but thrive. The success we’ve seen as a club is due almost entirely to the work of the members of our player exec board which is a group of students holding administrative roles within the team who are each elected by their teammates. Their hard work and dedication both on and off the field have allowed this club to exceed even their expectations.”
Margaret Hazlett, Dean of the College:
“The Franklin & Marshall Rugby program is a true model for other college campuses. As Dean of the College, I am quite proud of the quality of student who chooses to get involved with the program as the players hold themselves to high standards both on and off the field. It is a team that welcomes new players with support, patience and openness and expects everyone to contribute in a positive manner to the development of the program.”
Alexander Romano, ’18 Senior, Economics Major, Team President, Prop:
“Franklin & Marshall College has not only given me one of the top educations in the country, but the ability to achieve all my athletic dreams through Rugby. Stepping on the pitch for the first time was one of the best decisions of my life. Through F&M Rugby I have made strong friendships and connections with college administrators, played on a nationally competitive team, and realised my passion for sports management. Still to this day, I step on the pitch every Saturday with a chip on my shoulder because I desperately wanted to play collegiate football. What I have realised is that Rugby has given me more than any other sport ever could. I have developed into a better athlete physically and mentally. Not only I am able to make the hard hits and line breaks, I critically understand the game and my surrounding in order to make the best possible decisions. Rugby for me has become more than a game, it’s something that I will carry with me for the rest of my life.”
Shawn Carty, Senior Associate Director of Athletics – Athletic Facilities, Operations, and Recreation:
“It has been a pleasure to work with the members of the Men’s Rugby Club. From the initial meeting it was clear that these young men were passionate about the sport and intended to make the most of their four years at F&M. Through their hard work and dedication, the leaders of the Club have raised the level of expectations for not only the Men’s Rugby Club but for club sports in general. In addition, they have created a template for other clubs to follow to be a successful and vibrant group on campus. The future is bright for this team.”
Patricia S.W. Epps, Director of Athletics and Recreation:
“Franklin & Marshall Rugby is a thriving club, providing excellent athletic as well as leadership experience for the scholar-athletes that are involved. Our Rugby squads are role models for club sports at their best, providing valuable lifetime experience and education.”