Andrew Lounder, a Ph.D. student in higher education at the University of Maryland, College Park, is the chair of the Wheaton Rugby Alumni Union, which alums created in 2006.
The start of something big. The Rugby Alumni Union grew out of the annual alumni game, in which alumni play a rugby match against the undergraduates. We held our first game in the spring of 2005, and it grew the following year. As the alumni gathered afterward, many of whom had not seen each other in years, we had a long and enthusiastic conversation about what more our group could offer. If I had to attribute the idea to organize to one person, I think it would have to be Scott St. Onge ’99. He was one of the founders of the Men’s Rugby Club, back in 1997. In July of 2006 a handful of us met on campus and by conference call, and we hammered out a structure for ourselves in the form of a constitution.
Important move. The foundational concept for our group grew out of the observation that people lose track of good friends after college, and we felt strongly enough about the relationships we formed through rugby that we were unwilling to let that be our fate. As we thought about what our collective purpose would be and how our postgraduate shared experiences would look, it was easy to see that there was an important role to be had in supporting current students. We really wanted to enhance and build upon the learning opportunities that we had enjoyed by virtue of the Men’s Rugby Club being both a student-run group and a competitive athletic team. We felt that was very special.
Winning efforts. On May 1, 2010, we finished a 3 ½-year capital campaign for $100,000, which we used to endow a supplemental annual budget for the Men’s Rugby Club. In addition to an annual alumni game, we have at least two smaller gatherings of alumni and students each year. We meet at Homecoming, and we travel to a winter tournament in New Hampshire, where we play together instead of against each other.
Good sports. We played our sixth annual alumni game on May 1. The alumni won, with a score of 38-17. Of course, we did not play a regulation match. Rugby is a grueling 80-minute game, with the physicality of football and the continuous movement of soccer. We old guys usually request a 60-minute version, and with the undergrads scoring all of their points in the last 20 minutes of our match it doesn’t take a genius to see that we would have been in trouble if we had played regulation.