Friday, May 28, 2004
Salisbury Rugby Brings Home National ChampionshipSALISBURY, MD---Since 2001, Salisbury University rugby players knew they had a championship-caliber team. This year, they have the trophy to prove it. SU defeated Arkansas State University 43-24 at Stanford University’s Steuber Stadium on Saturday, May 1, earning the team its third national championship since 1996. According to captain Adam Tully, this year’s honor was particularly gratifying. “This was the first time we’ve won the championship competing against teams from across the country,” Tully said. “When we won in 1996 and 1997, rugby had spread only through about the middle of the country.” While about 35 SU rugby players participated in the championship game, those responsible for victory number in the hundreds. To finance the club team’s travel to Stanford, players relied on contributions from parents and alumni, as well as proceeds from T-shirt and jersey sales and a raffle. Though SU’s players could not predict their ultimate success at the season’s start, they were optimistic. “We’ve been in the top eight in the country three of the past four years,” Tully said. In 2001, the team lost by one point to Baylor University, which went on to become the national champion. The next year, SU lost by 10 to eventual national champion Stanford. SU Campus Recreation Coordinator Wayne Gorrow credited the team’s widespread success to the players and their volunteer coach, Dr. Robert Davis. “Without him, there wouldn’t be Salisbury rugby,” Gorrow said. “He’s built the team into the powerhouse it is today.” Davis credits the championship to his team’s focus and discipline. “We trained hard. We conditioned hard,” said the Salisbury physician and coach. “The officials said Salisbury played the best rugby seen over the championship weekend in any division.” To prepare for the championship, SU practiced against several Division I teams including the University of Maryland College Park, University of Delaware and Loyola College. John Fox, president of the Potomac Rugby Union, commended SU on its 2004 victory, as did SU Vice President of Student Affairs Carol Williamson. “We’re proud of our national champions,” said Williamson. “They demonstrate the SU experience at its best.” “Rugby is one of the most popular sports in the world and increasing in popularity in the United States at an encouraging pace and is recognized as an Olympic sport,” said Fox. “Youth rugby has grown 10-fold over the past few years. High School rugby is growing as rapidly as the youth programs and is recognized by both public and private schools alike in the Baltimore-Washington region.” Tully began playing rugby at age 15 through a similar school program near Philadelphia. For him and his 34 teammates, the national championship was the fulfillment of the dreams that began at those local camps.
For more information call 410-543-6030 or visit the SU Web site at www.salisbury.edu.