On March 23, the Seawolf Rugby club was able to host their first ever rugby tournament, that resulted in a unanimous success. The club, which has just been gaining publicity and visibility this academic year, ultimately hopes to join the National Collegiate Athletic Associate for rugby once it becomes an official collegiate sport.
Until then, individuals and clubs around Anchorage have worked together to promote a successful and enjoyable rugby community that people of all skill levels can participate in.
Alaska Rugby Union President, David Delozier, was extremely pleased with the success and turnout of the tournament.
“The tournament was a resounding success, the only possible negative thing about the entire event was having to limit it to only five clubs when we could have hosted double that if we had more reserved time,” Delozier said.
Seawolf Rugby Club president, Tran Dai Phu, helped plan and coordinate the event beside Delozier.
“Rugby is growing and UAA is lagging behind from national trends. The players, mostly from Eagle River High School and local Anchorage men’s and women’s teams, show great appreciation for the tournament. They take this tournament as an attraction for recruiting and as a standard for the summer rugby seasons,” Dai Phu said.
Dai Phu uses the expertise of other programs to help plan his own. He said programs such as the one at BYU Hawaii gave him the inspiration to create a thriving intramural program recognized by USA Touch Federation.
Jessica Filley, a masters student at UAA, was happy with the success of the tournament. However, she was slightly taken aback by some inexperience of other teams, but realized that could be a good sign for the future of rugby in Alaska.
“I felt that all the teams were very positive. [One of the teams] was a little inexperienced but it was good that hopefully newer people to the game felt comfortable,” Filley said.
The Seawolf Rugby club works to promote an environment that is open to everyone. They try to equally recruit men and women, disregarding inexperience in rugby as long as there is a general interest.
The Alaska Referee Society and Alaska Rugby Union provide the largest amount of help for game and tournament logistics, but that would not be possible without other sources.
“We have many supports from the local rugby community and of course the UAA Club Council. The UAA Club Council funded 50 percent of the event. It has been a great help. Without them, the event could not financially happen,” Dai Phu said.
The support doesn’t just come from organizations. Students on the Seawolf Rugby team and academic staff at UAA have helped maintain the success that rugby has been seeing. Professor Larry Ross, a professor of economics at UAA, has provided ample support to the team as their advisor.
Involving as many people as possible is a goal of Dai Phu. As rugby all over the country is growing, he hopes to promote his own Seawolf Club to grow as well.
“The USA Rugby organization is growing as well with USA, winning the Las Vegas 7s tournament and them hosting the first ever Rugby World Cup 2018 in San Francisco,” Dai Phu said, “it will be a huge deal. My goal for Seawolf Rugby is to be as involved as possible and qualify for a NCAA team.”