The Memphis Tiger Rugby Club has built a roster predominantly consisting of freshman players in a multitude of positions.
The Tigers have gone 4-2 in the season so far, and having dependable freshman could secure the future of a program for a long time. Coach Steve Swatzyna said Ryan Coleman is one of many players on the team who has contributed to the team’s current success.
“Ryan gives us youth, speed, and he is a very coachable young man,” Swatzyna said. “I think he is humble, he is quiet and he is just a sincere young man.”
Coleman joined Tiger Rugby after he was recruited for his abilities on the field at the Germantown Rugby Club. Players from Houston and Germantown High School both played for what was called Germantown Rugby. Coleman played outside center and wing for them.
“I think it is just his attitude,” Swatzyna said. “He cares about the team and the other players and I think he is going to be a good man when he grows up.”
Coleman has played with Tiger Rugby for two semesters and has begun his pursuit of a sports reporting career. Coleman said he is at school for a reason and school comes first before anything.
“He really surprises you with how he is not arrogant and how he goes about business.” Swatzyna said. “He gives 110 percent every time he is out on the field. I wish I had 15 players just like him.”
Coleman earned two regional Emmys and was nominated three times in high school for his journalistic achievements. He won a national Emmy in October 2018 for his work in sports broadcasting.
“I definitely look at myself as a leader,” Coleman said. “If there is ever a problem on the field, I can always be there to help fix it. If we are setting up for practice, I will be there to help.”
Coleman said his goals for the rugby team for the remaining part of the semester include continuing pushing himself as a player. Coleman said he wants his coach and team to know he is a dedicated player, and he is a dependable asset to the team whenever they need him.
Tiger Rugby earned runner-up in the Men’s Collegiate Division in the Nashville Rugby Tournament last week. The Memphis Tigers received hardware for the second straight rugby tournament appearance. The program is building a reputation and Coleman said there are still goals he and the team share.
“I would love to see the team get sanctioned,” Coleman said. “I want to see us play big named rugby teams. Memphis Rugby is going up, and we are a bunch of freshmen who get the job done.”
Three games remain on the Tigers’ season, two being away games. The Tigers will play the Volunteers in Knoxville and hope to repeat their success against UTK after beating them in Memphis 23-5. Memphis will host Ole Miss again after the first meeting of the spring season was canceled. The final game will be against Lindenwood in Missouri.
“I want a piece of UTK,” Coleman said. “Memphis rugby can compete, and we compete with the best of them.”