King's to add men’s sevens rugby as a club sport
Financial District, NEW YORK - Rugby has been a growing interest among King's athletes since the Fall 2013 semester and has recently culminated in the formation of a Men’s Sevens Club. The push for rugby at King’s began when the college hired Athletic Director Sean Horan five years ago. The Tribune sat down with Horan before the Fall Sports Awards Dinner on Jan. 29 to hear the inside scoop on rugby at King’s. Horan said that he was initially hired to be a rugby coach. When he got the position, Stan Oakes was the president of King's.
"Stan's vision was a rugby team,” Horan said. But when he assumed the title of Athletic director, Horan's role morphed; he began overseeing all sports programs at King's.
“This is it," Horan said, referring to the inception of a King's rugby team. "We have had some kids participate in the past at Columbia, but only a handful. This is something totally new--to set up a sole club team at the school.”
Most recently Horan was the Head Coach of the Columbia University Rugby Football Club and is currently the coach of the New York City Sevens, who ranked fifth in the world last summer.
"It was my biggest accomplishment ever," Horan recalls. "In London, England, the teams we lost to were professionals. We were the only amateur team in [the tournament].”
Sevens is a variant of the traditional 15 vs. 15 rugby format. It is played mainly under the same rules, but according to Horan, “The fifteens game is pretty physical, a very demanding sport physically. Sevens is more agility and speed. There’s still hitting, but sevens is less injury prone than both American football and soccer.”
At King's, Horan will assume the initial role of coach because the school is “trying to build consensus” and a team before researching further options.
Horan is hoping to further gauge student interest and “see where everyone stands athletically and fitness-wise by testing their endurance, their speed, their agility, their strength.”
Tryouts are currently in the planning stage; Horan says that “club sports will let people know. Every sport with club status has been started with and lead by the students.”
Horan's future goal is to assemble, train and enter a King's rugby team into a club tournament in April. He said that the competition will come from local schools, SUNY Stony Brook (Long Island) and Rutgers University, as well as teams from all over the metropolitan area.
According to Horan, over twenty King's students have shown interest in the sport. “There’s a 12-man roster [for sevens rugby] but you need a good 16 to 18 players--spread the word!”