Rugby has grown into a very competitive college and university sport in the USA. It is not only a breeding ground for young talent coming through, but also a structured and competitive system. It ensures that you represent your university with pride while getting a degree. Whether your dream is to become the next Harvey Specter, neurosurgeon, or best preschool teacher, winning a rugby scholarship can help you achieve it. Going pro is also an option with the MLR (Major League Rugby), the USA's new professional league. The MLR completed its first ever collegiate draft in 2020, and has had a great start to its existence. College rugby therefore also gives you a direct route for you to go pro. Wondering what you have to do to make it happen? Read on to find out how to win a university rugby scholarship.
USA College rugby has been around since the early 1800s. The sport gradually built a foundation until it boomed in popularity in the 1960s. From having 85 teams competing in 2007 to 151 teams in 2011, and then jumping to 200 teams in 2012, rugby has really taken off. It is now not only the fastest growing sport in the college system, but also the fastest growing sport in the whole of the USA! College rugby now has 900 institutions competing with both men's and women's teams. This means the opportunity is yours for the taking!
As an established sport, Rugby has given student-athletes opportunities to enhance talent internationally. With more and more programs being identified as Varsity teams, more scholarships are being awarded. These scholarships are not governed by the normal NCAA, NAIA or NJCAA, but governed by the USA Rugby governing body (go Eagles!) Rugby scholarships will provide you with substantial funding towards your college experience, covering tuition, accommodation, food and housing. Students supported by these scholarships are expected to study toward an undergraduate degree, ensuring you have a platform for future success.
Tips To Improve Your Chances Of Winning A Rugby Scholarship
To win a scholarship, you need to do quite a lot of work. To enhance your chances of getting a scholarship, here are a few tips:
- Video Footage
- With team sport being subjective, this is the only way a coach can see your talent and skill. To ensure your video showcases every part of the skill needed, focus on:
- Technique at set plays
- Attacking play
- Defensive play
- Basic rugby skills (passing, kicking, tackling etc)
- Start early
- The early bird gets the worm! Coaches start recruiting as early as a student's grade 10 year, with verbal offers being given in the grade 11 year. Building a relationship with a coach and constantly keeping in touch is the key to opening up the scholarship door.
- Focus on your grades
- Making sure you spend time studying is crucial. Keep in mind that you need to apply to a university, and getting accepted academically must be a focus. On top of getting accepted, there is financial aid for academics which will help you get a better scholarship offer.
- Be proactive
- The US college system is big, with over 4300 institutions. Start building a list of universities or colleges that you know suit your needs. Making sure that they have a rugby program and an undergraduate degree that you want to study is a good place to start.
- Play Rugby
- This might sound absurd, but there is no better place to make your case for a scholarship than on the field. Get a few friends and play a game of touch, pass the ball, practice your kicking and make sure you are set for when your time comes.
What can you expect from these scholarships, other than funding?
Now that we have ticked off all the boxes, what else is part of preparing you for your college rugby career?
Other the USA college experience you will have strength and conditioning sessions, preparing you for each season and preventing potential injury, including full contact training with team mates (Yes, you will be able to smash your teammates). Access to the physio, biokineticist, sport scientist and in-depth analysis of each player will allow you to get a better understanding of the game while improving your skills. You will travel all over the USA, enhancing your experience, seeing awesome places and experiencing great accommodation. Last but not least, classes! Yes, this is also a priority - and it is also a great stepping stone to setting you up for success.
Remember, it’s always the perfect time to begin your journey towards studying at the university of your dreams. Sign up here for a free consultation with one of our recruitment experts. You could join over 300 student-athletes already placed in the USA, competing at the highest level and earning a world-class degree!