The University of Memphis has a rugby program. They may not get the attention the other sports get from students, but you better believe they're known in the rugby world.
There has been a rugby team at Memphis since 1984. It is a Division II program that competes against schools in the Southeastern Collegiate Rugby Conference, the sport's equivalent of the SEC. Currently, the team is ranked 16th in the country.
Blake White, an Arkansas State graduate, leads the program as its head coach. The Red Wolves have been one of the top rugby programs in the nation and White has worked to bring that energy to the 901. His assistant coach, Dave Hill, thinks they're closing in on that goal.
“We have one of the best programs in the country right now. We travel and raise money because rugby is a club sport everywhere. For a college team, we are well-organized. Our coach, Blake White came from Arkansas St., a very great rugby program, and that has helped attract talented players,“ Hill explained.
The University of Memphis Rugby team is supported by the Tiger Rugby Foundation in Memphis. Since rugby is not an NCAA sport, the team is supported by the Tiger Rugby Foundation. That support can come in the form of academic and athletic scholarships.
The team has had success as of late with Calvin Gentry and Ethan Scott being drafted to play professional rugby. Both players graduated from the UofM in 2019.
Gentry was drafted in the 3rd round by the Dallas Jackals and Scott was also drafted in the 3rd round by the Seattle Seawolves. They will play in the Major League Rugby organization.
Gentry was also selected to play for the Headliners Rugby Team in the Premier Rugby Sevens Tournament being held in Memphis on Saturday, Oct. 9 at Redbirds Stadium.
Scott, who was captain and MVP at the University of Memphis, is grateful for his time at the University of Memphis.
“We have been working hard for a long time to build this program up and when I got to the University of Memphis, we were not that good. I was an incoming freshman super excited about playing rugby here and it really left me with an unsatisfied feeling. It is amazing what we have done since my disappointing freshman season."
The team plays their home games at Memorial Field. They are off to a 2-0 start, sitting atop their conference that includes teams from Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Georgia Tech and Auburn.