Emory & Henry College will sponsor women’s rugby as a varsity sport for the 2023-24 academic year season. This move aligns with the increased interest in women’s rugby on the E&H campus and its status as an “emerging sport” with the NCAA.
Posted July 05, 2023
Additionally, Vice President for Athletics Dr. Anne Crutchfield, ’89, announced that Tom “Doc” O’Neill had been named the program’s full-time head coach. O’Neill was a part-time coach for the men’s and women’s rugby programs. He will also continue to lead the men’s club rugby program.
“When I started volunteering here in 2014, I never imagined being hired part-time to coach rugby in Southwest Virginia. To now become a varsity NCAA coach is more than I ever thought would happen,” said O’Neill. “It’s been a vision of mine to see women’s rugby take off. I’m very excited for this new journey in my life and to help make rugby a big program here at Emory & Henry.”
Emory & Henry began playing women’s rugby as a club sport in 2019 as part of the non-NCAA South Atlantic Rugby Conference (SARC) under the National Collegiate Rugby umbrella. The team saw four players selected to represent Emory & Henry as part of a SARC All-Star Team at the National Collegiate Rugby Championships, which won a national championship.
“We are excited to be able to move women’s rugby to a varsity sport,” commented Crutchfield. “Doc is the perfect person to lead us into this new era of competition. His familiarity with Emory & Henry over the past decade and his experience as a player at the collegiate and adult level give him the knowledge base and the contacts in the rugby world that will help us be competitive quickly.”
As an NCAA-emerging sport, women’s rugby is part of a group of sports recognized by the NCAA that is intended to help schools provide more athletics opportunities for women and more sports-sponsorship options for the institutions. Once an emerging sport reaches 40 sponsoring institutions, it gains championship status.
“With the designation of emerging sport, the NCAA has made the growth of women’s rugby a priority,” added Crutchfield. “Emory & Henry strives to be a leader when it comes to providing opportunities for women to compete at a high level, which will position us to do so on a national stage.”
A new Center for Outdoor Studies will launch this fall that will support students academically who want to work toward careers related to the outdoors. The center is part of the Collective Connection Campaign initiative to expand student engagement and the strategic plan to embrace and support our place in the region. More than 375 incoming students are expected to join the campus this fall, and Summer Experience Days are underway for the new swarm of Wasps!
Members of the Emory & Henry College Board of Trustees and current students in the School of Business gathered at Carriger Hall to celebrate the naming of its new boardroom in honor of the 21st President, Jake B. Schrum. This was the first public preview of the building since renovations started in the fall of 2021. The building was used as a men’s dormitory and built in two phases in 1904 and 1908. A grand opening ceremony will be held in August 2023, when students return to campus and construction is completed. A feature in the new Jake B. Schrum Boardroom is a wooden boardroom table designed and handcrafted by Schrum’s oldest daughter and artist, Libby Schrum (second from right) of Camden, Maine.