Two competitive club teams’ view on campus relevance
The Santa Clara
November 2, 2017
Despite successes and strong competitive spirit, the rugby and lacrosse teams at Santa Clara have not been awarded status above the club level.
Because these groups are classified as club teams, they do not have access to varsity facilities, they do not follow the NCAA guidelines and they are not run by the Santa Clara Athletics Department.
The Santa Clara Men’s Lacrosse team competes in the Western Collegiate Lacrosse League. The team plays in the Division I group and, last year, won their way to a 7-4 overall record.
“We’re satisfied with the current arrangement, but for the sake of our student athletes, as well as incoming freshman in the future, we would love to see the school sponsor an NCAA program for lacrosse,” said Head Coach Greg Mengis.
To become more than a club team, Coach Mengis understands that there is “a process behind it and some steps it would take, so it’s not an overnight thing.”
Lacrosse President and senior David Leonardo attests to the pros and cons of being on a club team.
Leonardo said the pros “include continuing to compete athletically in college while creating a camaraderie with individuals possessing similar interests.” Leonardo admitted that “a couple of cons revolve around having to pay dues for our funding, some difficulty in finding and maintaining talent and some difficulties in arranging travel.”
Leonardo points out that making the switch from club sports to D1 athletics is not impossible, as universities like the University of Utah have done so recently.
Aside from the team graduating from club status, Coach Mengis said their one goal is to make the playoffs for the first time in nearly ten years.
The Santa Clara rugby team, also known as the Santa Clara University Touring Side or SCUTS, competes in Division 1A—the top tier of collegiate rugby.
Last year, the team hosted and won the title of the second annual Jesuit Cup.
After the USA Rugby 7s National Championship, the team placed 13th in the nation.
Despite this prestigious ranking, the team is only recognized as a club team by Santa Clara.
SCUTS rugby has a rich history at Santa Clara. Chairman Onno Ho explained that it “has very much been alive since 1908, with five gold medal Olympians in [their] history, the 60s alumni revitalized the program on campus.”
With a revitalized program, they are interested in taking the next step.
“Coach Keeler is one of the top coaches in the nation at any level and with experience coaching the U.S. national team’s B-side, so he expects that level of play out of us,” said Rugby Captain Tucker Smith.
Regarding their success as a team, senior Mitch Spinelli said, “Our ultimate goal as a team is to move up. We are currently playing in one of the toughest conferences in the country and play some of the top teams every year.”
Becoming an official team at Santa Clara would come with helpful perks for the rugby team.
“Moving up would allow us access to the varsity weight room and other benefits of being a varsity team that some of these other elite rugby teams already have access to,” Spinelli said.
These amenities would facilitate easier recovery and training.
Being a club team means rugby does not have the same recruiting abilities as other recognized teams across the country. They also have to do the scheduling, gear designing, traveling and administrative work.
That said, rugby President Peter Koros acknowledges there are perks to being a club team.
He states that they are “fortunate to go tour in France this upcoming spring which, again, was set up by the players of the team.”
Contact Addy Camisa at email@example.com or call (408) 554-4852.