Sometimes, the strongest legacies arise from the humblest beginnings. For UMBC’s rugby team – one of the oldest clubs on campus – it all began with a bag of chips, a few cold ones, and a group of determined guys.
On May 3, the team proudly celebrated its 30th anniversary – a true legacy for UMBC and the ruggers.
Andrew Gaither ‘94, history, a current rugger and member of the Alumni Association Board, is overwhelmed and honored that the team has lasted this long. “I don’t think anybody thought we’d get this far,” says Gaither. “Having endured 30 years and seeing what it was and what it is now is kind of amazing – I’m looking forward to the 50th.”
The story begins back in 1984 when the rugby team first started and became part of the Potomac Rugby Union (PRU) – the official governing body of all rubgy for the areas of northern Virginia, D.C., Maryland, and parts of Pennsylvania. It was in 1992 that the first alumni game was held at UMBC. Gaither explains that what started as small and simple has turned into their annual Alumni Weekend featuring a match, fellowship, and the “Best Damn Awards in All of Rugby.”
Gaither talks of the levels of fraternity and community that most people don’t understand. “I have a lot of rugby brothers,” Gaither says. “I always say to the younger players, ‘Look around. These guys will be here with you and for you in 20 years.’” For many, this camaraderie is what rugby is all about.
There’s something else special about UMBC Rugby: the Haud Collumi Scholarship. It’s the only scholarship formally endowed by an athletics alumni group and was named after the famous pre-game ritual of the Dance of the No Neck (Haud Collumi in Latin). Since 1984, the ruggers take part in this dance before every single game. The exact origins are unknown, but it’s a part of tradition; and for the rugby team, tradition is just as important as camaraderie.
“It’s a great feeling to know that you’re helping your brothers get to the next level,” Gaither remarks.
The motto of the rugby team is one that speaks to the culture of their sport: “For he today that sheds his blood with me shall be my brother (Henry V, Act 4, Scene 3).” There is a sense of brotherhood formed on the field that will last for years to come. The 30th anniversary for UMBC and the ruggers is a huge accomplishment and Alumni Weekend was nothing short of phenomenal as these brothers came together to play, sing, dance, drink, and be merry. The whole thing was a field day (pun intended)!
– by Jessie Orsburn