Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya


Most agree that the bleachers of the Multi-Sport Facility cannot compete with the grandeur of sports arenas at other Big East schools, or even at some high schools that the fans have come from. The concession stand is makeshift, and the halftime locker-room speeches are delivered in sideline tents.

But for the Georgetown Rugby Football Club, the chance to play at the heart of campus on the Multi-Sport Facility, let alone on campus at all, is a blessing.

Despite their position at the top of the Potomac Rugby Union’s Division II, the Hoyas are one of a few teams in their division without a home field. While others have near- or on-campus facilities, Georgetown plays at several fields around the D.C. area, most frequently on the fields at Gravelly Point by Reagan Airport and the field at 15th and Independence Streets near the National Mall.

“It’s difficult reserving fields in the area,” Head Coach J.P. Perez said. “The rugby teams, youth, high school, senior men and women, and colleges all share the same worn out and dusty fields.”

But Saturday was different. Georgetown handed a 76-0 whooping to American in their second-ever game at the Multi-Sport Facility to remain the only undefeated team (5-0) in the league with only one game against Frostburg State remaining in the regular season.

“We have clinched the playoffs and have home field advantage the first two rounds,” Perez said. “We would like the opportunity to play on campus again.”

The team’s first appearance on the field was in February 2006, during the first year the turf was built.

“It’s exciting how we can have a real home field advantage and play in front of our family and friends,” Perez said. “It’s very deserving for the players because they are very committed to the rugby program and dedicated in improving their game.”

And excited they are.

“A good amount of fans came out today and cheered us on,” captain Richard Vilmenay (COL ’08) said. “It’s fun to be out here with the team. There’s a lot of freshmen, and they’re excited. So hopefully, we can keep doing it in the coming years, because it’s really hard to get games.”

The road to the Multi-Sport Facility has not been smooth. The Hoyas have had to weasel into the busy practice schedules of the five varsity teams that use the Multi-Sport Facility in order to get the game on Saturday. They also face funding problems, which prevent them from reaching the place they’d like to have in Georgetown’s community.

“We get funding from the school as a club sport, but we’re always just eking by,” wing Tom Keenan (COL ’08) said. “If we get more publicity and a more positive image, I think we will legitimize ourselves as a real sport, not something that’s just kind of out there. . I think [playing at the Multi-Sport Facility] is a huge step towards achieving something like that.”

The game on Saturday gave the Hoyas an opportunity to show the community what rugby is all about.

“Rugby doesn’t really have that much of a presence, even in the United States, but it’s exciting to be able to show people what the game really is and educate them about the game,” Keenan said. “At the same time, it’s a good time to get people out here, and they have a good time, we have a good time. It’s a positive experience for everybody.”

Fans in the stands ranged from Europeans, who needed their rugby fix now that it’s World Cup time in Europe, to the uninitiated freshmen and sophomores.

“Playing on the field with a large crowd shows the fans that Georgetown has a successful rugby program and educate the fans on the sport; not just the laws of the game but hopefully creates or improves their perspective on the sport,” Perez said.

The team is gaining traction, at least within Hoya Blue. In its weekly e-mail, Hoya Blue encouraged members to attend the rugby game and to “come out and be heard!”

While the Hoyas said that they loved the support from fans and the opportunity to educate people on the sport, they also hoped the game would help get the attention of students who may be interested in playing next season. Perez said that an Under-19 U.S. Eagle National team player interested in Georgetown attended Saturday’s game, and that high school players have attended some of the other games. “Our recruiting has improved every year,” Perez said. “When the players are having fun and we’re winning games, more students will want to be part of this.”

This year, more than 40 freshmen came out in the beginning of the season, and more than 20 freshmen are playing consistently now.

“We see more youth and high school administration supporting rugby, so we have more incoming students from established high school rugby programs having interest in Georgetown University,” Perez said. “Maybe in the future, the students can benefit from some admissions assistance.”

As for the team’s efforts to recruit athletes that are already on the Hilltop, the team posts flyers advertising a recruiting meeting in the early fall because “at SAC fair it’s kind of hard to get a table for a club sport,” Vilmenay said.

The face of rugby at Georgetown has been continually improving since it was founded 40 years ago in 1967, with the success of the program consistently increasing in the last five years. Some of the team’s accomplishments include earning the title of Capital Cup Champions 10 years in a row from 1998-2007 and third place at the national tournament last season.

“You’ll see more improvement on women’s rugby sooner since it’s an emerging sport initiative with the NCAA in response to Title IX,” Perez predicted. “Down the road, we want to be a regular campus presence, in a similar way soccer, lacrosse, crew have emerged decades ago.”

In the meantime, a lack of visibility has not fazed this year’s squad.

“It’s really a great sport, we’re really a big family,” Vilmenay said. “We really stick together in everything: social events, school-wise. It’s really a big family, so it’s great to be able to come out here and play today.”

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