In an effort to improve the performance of elite rugby players and develop a clear pathway for players to the professional level, Glendale Rugby Football Club (GRFC) has officially announced a groundbreaking partnership with Clemson Rugby Club and the Clemson Rugby Foundation.
“Our objective is to provide Clemson with elite player and coach development opportunities,” Glendale’s Director of Rugby Mark Bullock said. “We are hoping to make the professional rugby pathway very clear to athletes within Clemson University, opening doors to those who may have felt they weren’t able to play professional sports once out of college.”
This affiliation with Clemson Rugby Club is the first of its kind for Glendale. Although Glendale has long had a close relationship with Clemson’s rugby program and its former head coach, Steve Lynch, this is the first time any concrete partnership has been announced.
In fact, over the years Lynch has actively assisted Glendale in off-season recruitment and training opportunities. Even as recently as last summer, Lynch represented Glendale in a rugby camp held in Vail, CO; and also sent two of his recent Clemson alums – Colin Gregory and Jason Damm – to the Glendale Raptors in 2019. Further, Lynch was instrumental in the Raptors back-up scrumhalf Mickey Bateman’s move to Glendale two years ago, first recruiting him as an assistant coach in the spring of 2017.
“A relationship with a well-established organization like Glendale enhances the Clemson Rugby experience,” stated Jim Gaine, President of the Clemson Rugby Foundation. “We founded the CRF as a student-centered non-profit that supports and facilitates great rugby experiences on and off the field. After 52 years at Clemson, rugby remains a uniquely culture-driven sport. This affiliation with Glendale will allow our rugby family to better prepare for the future both organizationally and technically.” Clemson Rugby Club President, Hunter Dawsey, added, “We expect this relationship to provide greater opportunities for students and athletes to learn in professional environments, preserve their amateur status and expand networks far beyond the field of play.”
Joel Jaldin, 2019 Clemson graduate, team Captain, and starting flanker for Vail Rugby’s 2018 summer team, stated, “For the student athletes who want to compete in high performance rugby, this would be an excellent opportunity to learn from incredible coaches and bring that experience back to Clemson, positively influencing our program and rugby development in South Carolina.”
Although this is the first affiliation officially made between the Glendale Rugby and a collegiate rugby program, there are many other affiliations in the works for this newly-professional Colorado Rugby club.
“Last year, our program partnered with Vail Rugby, which allowed the Raptors an opportunity for off-season training and recruitment and turned out to be hugely beneficial,” Bullock explained. “Not only have we continued with that partnership this year, but we are very eager to use Vail and Clemson Rugby as a template for future affiliations between Major League Rugby teams and top-notch rugby programs throughout the country.”
The Glendale RFC has also been instrumental in setting up programs promoting the crossover of elite athletes from other sports into rugby, hosting a week-long camp last September that culminated with Bullock bringing a dozen new rugby players up to Aspen Ruggerfest to compete in the men’s elite division.
“Our goal here in Glendale is not only to raise the level of rugby in the U.S., but to also increase the exposure of the sport and create better people along the way,” Bullock added. “Better people make better rugby players, and we know Clemson is dedicated to producing both.”
For more information contact Director of Marketing Pam Dunbar at 303-639-4417. For more information on the Clemson Rugby Club, please visit http://www.clemsonrugby.com/.