Men’s rugby may not be considered a varsity sport on campus, but the team will be playing in Division I for the first time this season.
As a member of the Red River Rugby Conference, TCU will play the University of Texas at Austin, Southern Methodist University, Baylor University, Oklahoma University and Texas A&M University.
The team was previously in the Division II Southwestern Conference.
“We also want to keep the rivalry of the Big 12,” head coach Shay Flowers said. “A lot of the teams in [our conference] – OU, Baylor, Texas Tech – were already in Division I, so I was ready for us to make the move.”
Rugby team president Scott Hamilton said while TCU’s team may be smaller than others in size, the members make up for it by focusing on a strong speed attack and defense.
The team has increased its number of practices in anticipation of the tougher competition. Players lift weights Monday mornings and then practice Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. Last season, they practiced twice a week.
“This year we’re putting in more days, more hours, just to kind of get ready,” said team vice president, Dillon Thiele.
Since roughly half of the team is new to rugby, the first few weeks of practices have involved a great deal of teaching.
“It’s going to be a challenge, but I think we’re up for it,” Thiele said. “We have a lot of new guys out who have never seen rugby, so that will definitely be part of the challenge.”
Still, the coach and players feel prepared for the start of their season.
“We want to win our division and ultimately go to nationals,” Hamilton said. “Right now we just jumped to Division I, so that’s something we already accomplished. I hope to keep capitalizing on that.”
The rugby team’s first game is Saturday at 6 p.m. at the TCU intramural fields.