For the first time in the school’s history, Eastern Kentucky University will host a USA Rugby Men’s D1AA Regional Championship.
The Midwest Region championship will be held at the University’s intramural fields Nov. 19-20. With four yet-to-be-determined teams visiting, the University will host two games Saturday and the championship and consolation matches Sunday.
Some of the Midwest Region teams competing for an opportunity to reach the Regional Championship include Notre Dame College, Bowling Green State University and Middle Tennessee State University, among others.
The tournament will consist of 15s rugby, a larger form of the 7s rugby featured at the 2016 Summer Olympics. 15s Rugby is comprised of two teams of 15 contestants playing on a “pitch” larger than a football field. The game consists of two 40-minute halves with a 10-minute half-time.
According to USA Rugby, rugby is the fastest growing sport in the United States. In fact, the EKU Rugby Club is so well known among rugby fans that it has established a far-reaching reputation. “EKU has had a Rugby Club since 1974, and some students come to EKU specifically for that aspect,” said EKU Rugby Head Coach Barry Burkett. “As a high school student in Canada, I knew EKU had a rugby program.”
Burkett wants to use the championship as an opportunity to build up the EKU Rugby Club in the hopes of transforming it into a program.“The current members of the men's club want to establish a dominant program,” he said. “Currently, my goal is to teach better play to current players, develop a strong program, and let EKU become a destination to ruggers wanting to compete at the next level.” The team hopes to use the regional championship as a catalyst with the current players and as an opportunity to “share quality rugby with the region.”
Admission to the Men’s Rugby D1AA Regional Championship will cost $1 per day, while donations to EKU Rugby are also welcome. For more information about the championship or EKU Rugby, contact Barry Burkett at Barry.Burkett@eku.edu or 502-330-8696.