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(Fairfield Univ) College Coaches Corner

Guest Post by Austin Ryan, Fairfield University Men’s Rugby

It is a privilege to be counted among a relatively small group of professionals who coach rugby full-time at the college level in the United States. Off the field, it is a collaboration between me as the coach and the student-athletes. I foster this type of relationship for 3 main reasons: 1) these young women and men are now adults preparing to enter the professional world, 2) our club’s mission and ethos is to develop these student-athletes in mind, body, and spirit, 3) we are cultivating future alumni and supporters of the program. On the field, these young women and men dedicate themselves to learning, growing, and developing into the best players they can be while at the same time enhancing their college experience through rugby.

As rugby's popularity in the U.S. continues to grow, we see teams becoming increasingly supported by the university. With this comes the expectation that rugby teams will be ambassadors for the institution. This notion is far from when my colleagues and I played when we were left to our own devices.


As Director of Rugby, I am charged with four main tasks: coaching, administration, wellness, and communication. I am within the Department of Recreation at the university, and I collaborate with Admissions, Alumni Relations, Athletic Development, and Marketing/Communications, to name a few. I would equate our current position within the university as a startup that is almost ready to go public; we have the support of the university and are in direct partnership with our alumni organization, we enhance the community by recruiting prospective students, and we live out the mission of Fairfield through community service.

Ultimately, I am most proud of how we have accomplished at Fairfield as a rugby club and how we maintain the integrity of the term student-athlete. Our students perform excellently in the classroom (we’ve had 10 scholastic All-Americans since 2022), our students balance their rugby commitments in order to participate in other extracurriculars such as Business Club, Best Buddies, and many others, and our student officers are essential in the management and administration of the clubs.

All in all, our players get it all: they compete at the highest level while learning at one of the best institutions on the East Coast…one that is expanding its brand across the country.


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