Women’s Rugby Won’t Be Varsity

Despite winning a national title in April and a flurry of subsequent rumors that Radcliffe Rugby would be granted varsity status, the Black and White will maintain its club team status for the foreseeable future, according to Assistant Athletic Director Kurt K. Svoboda.

Members of the women’s rugby team and representatives of the athletic department have been holding private meetings over the course of the past year to discuss Radcliffe’s progress as a team, and although the Black and White’s officers proposed to the Athletic Department last year that the team be promoted to varsity status, the possibility has since been ruled out, according to team captain Megan A. Verlage ’13.

“The Athletic Department has been meeting with our women’s club rugby program, which asked us to help them in some aspects, to see how we can help them put forth a program that meets their needs,” Svoboda said in an emailed statement on behalf of the department. “Varsity status has been mentioned among other elements that could help students in this program,” the statement continued.

Though he confirmed on an earlier occasion that varsity status has been ruled out as an option for the team, Svoboda declined to comment on whether it would be considered in the future.

Verlage said the officers of the rugby club were told in a meeting last semester that due to financial constraints, the Athletic Department will be unable to fund another fully fledged varsity team.

“During the Athletic Department meeting they said, ‘No, you are not going varsity, and don’t spread rumors that you are,’” Verlage said.

Two sources on the team, who both asked to remain anonymous to protect their relationship with administrators, said that due to the confidentiality of the meetings, Radcliffe’s varsity status has become a highly sensitive issue. Members of the team, they said, have been instructed not to speak to the media about the topic.

“We got another email [from Verlage] today saying not to talk to the press about it—it’s obviously a really sensitive issue,” the first source said.

According to Verlage, the team originally wanted to become varsity in order access certain athletic resources only allotted for varsity teams. But through negotiations with the athletic department, the Black and White has been granted access to these resources, lessening the need to attain varsity status, Verlage said.

“I will [say] right now we have no intention of going varsity,” Verlage said. “We asked [the Athletic Department] for a trainer and weights, things club sports don’t usually get ... We have everything we need, so right now we don’t want to go varsity.”

But according to members of the team, it remains a contentious topic among club members. While some players are satisfied with the additional resources granted by the Athletic Department, other players believe that Radcliffe’s recent success warrants a promotion to varsity status.

“The girls on the team are talking, and some of them are upset that we’re still not varsity,” the second source said.

The source said certain members of the department have encouraged Radcliffe officers to continue to fight for varsity status, indicating that there is some dissension within the department over whether the team should be promoted.

Svoboda said he is unaware of such discussion within the Athletic Department.

—Staff writer Patrick Galvin can be reached at pgalvin@college.harvard.edu.

Tags