The Westfield Voice

The Student News Site of Westfield State University

The Westfield Voice

The Westfield Voice

Westfield Rugby Club Fights for Recognition


Rugby Web Story on Youtube Linked Here

Photo provided by rugby club’s Facebook page

By Chandler Hutchison and Joe Hagen

WESTFIELD, MA – According to some players, Westfield State University’s (WSU) rugby team has been under-supported and under-represented by the university. Currently, there is a fight to get this team the recognition they believe they deserve.

Rugby co-captain Shawn Cardoza, has been on the team for three years. Cardoza said there are many hoops to jump through to operate as a club sport. He called the hierarchy of sports at WSU a totem pole, with club sports at the bottom, under both varsity and intramural sports.

Cardoza explained WSU won’t provide the team with a campus email list, which would help with recruitment and game attendance. He also said the team had to start one of their games late because of an intramural soccer practice.

“We don’t get any publicity on the Westfield athletics social media pages,” Cardoza added. This results in difficulties regarding the team’s web presence.

Co-captain Carter Wood brought up the club’s recent success, “In the last ten years or so, the Rugby club has consistently been one of this school’s most successful sports teams.” The team has garnered championship status this decade, and continues to fight for national bids every year.

Wood also added, “The school should be supporting student groups like clubs, because that is what is going to make students want to be here.”

Westfield State rugby alumni Tyler Sousa also mentioned that the trophies and accolades the team has earned are not displayed in the trophy cases in WSU’s Woodward Athletic Center.

Sousa explained another major issue is the team is not given “any access to the athletic trainers.” This is concerning considering rugby is one of the more physically demanding sports the school has to offer.

With lack of field time, athletic training, communication channels, and recognition for the program, one might ask: What else can this team do to further itself?

Coach Todd Ditmar, women’s soccer coach and Director of Club Sports at WSU, explained that “SGA (Student Government Association) is very generous,” and provides about half of the funding for each club, including rugby.

Ditmar believes that there is more hope than gloom for club sports, saying that he has seen better athletes and more participation in Westfield club sports since he started his current position.

When asked about the facilities for club sports, Ditmar said, “That’s the hard part […] What we’re in need of is practice space.” With New England weather, the grass fields provided for the teams are useless, according to Ditmar.

WSU’s Associate Athletic Director David Caspole declined request for an in-person interview. However, he explained via email there are currently no plans to make rugby a varsity sport at WSU, which would have provided the team with the amenities they desire.

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