Walk past the Quad about 4 o’clock on any given Tuesday or Thursday, and you can’t miss it. Willamette rugby has been revived. The throaty shouts of coach and players barrage passersby and drown out lilting soprano scales drifting through open second-story windows of Smith.
Stephen Scott ’10, from Beaverton, Ore., knew he wanted to come to Willamette — “when I visited, the students were so nice, I knew I would be able to make friends here“ — and he knew he wanted to play rugby. Then he discovered the history of rugby at Willamette. Undeterred that there was no active team, Scott set to work. Before he set foot in his first WU classroom, he put together a detailed proposal to revive the sport and presented it to campus recreation, then athletics and others in University administration. The proposal was approved, and the Willamette Rugby Football Club took the field in fall 2006. It was a character-building first year, and “that first fall season, we only had five or six guys,” Scott recalls, “but in the spring, some of the football players wanted to get involved. This year the team has more than doubled in size.” In fact it often fields around 30 players. The team is off to a 1-1 start this year, their victory a 41-17 rout of Portland State University.
The club plays in the Division 2–South League of the Pacific Northwest Rugby Football Union, and while the team may schedule “friendlies” against various colleges during the year, the players talk about “WARS” — Willamette Alumni Rugby Supporters. Scott and teammate Tom Pearson ’10 are recruiting. Word is spreading among rugby alumni that the sport is back, and the team hopes more WARS will get involved — coming to games, posting photos and stories on the team website, sharing the legacy with today’s players.