The Daily Orange
Mar 21, 2023
Leinster Rugby, widely considered one of the most successful rugby organizations in the world, is partnering with Syracuse University to provide world class rugby coaching and training expertise to the University’s men’s and women’s rugby club sport programs.
As part of the initiative, Leinster, a premier Irish rugby organization, will appoint a coach to live in Syracuse and work with the University’s successful club programs. The partnership also will bring youth from around the nation to Syracuse for summer rugby skills camps, create coaching development programs, provide opportunities for students to learn in Leinster’s organization and explore exchange opportunities for Irish and Syracuse University students.
“The University is committed to becoming a leader in collegiate club sports offerings, and our partnership with an exceptional organization like Leinster helps us further that goal. We are excited for the future of our rugby programs.” says Chancellor Kent Syverud.
Shane Nolan, Leinster Rugby’s chief executive, says “Leinster is excited to begin its relationship with Syracuse University, an institution with a great history, excellent academic standards and values, and a strong rugby culture. As Leinster looks to build a presence in America, Syracuse is an ideal partner for us.”
The Syracuse University Rugby Football Club (est. 1969) and the Syracuse University Women’s Rugby Club (established in the late 1970s and reactivated in 1997) have provided student-athletes with a competitive, high-quality club sports experience for decades, giving teammates a chance to learn, practice and compete against some of the best clubs and universities across the eastern portion of the United States.
As part of the new partnership, those student athletes will have access to the same coaching expertise that has helped Leinster develop into a global rugby power. “This truly unique collaboration will enhance the student-athlete experience and raise the profile of rugby on campus, in Central New York and throughout the country,” says Bob Wilson, head coach of the Syracuse University Rugby Football Club. “It will attract potential students to the University from around the world and expose our athletes to Leinster’s great sporting and professional culture.”
Zach Levek ’11, G’21, president of the Syracuse University Rugby Alumni Association, says ,“I am thrilled about the opportunity to partner with Leinster, one of the top rugby clubs in the world. Working with Leinster, I am confident we can build upon Syracuse University’s rich rugby history.”
Founded in 1879, Leinster is a standard bearer among world rugby organizations. Known for its academy program, Leinster rugby athletes account for two-thirds of the Irish national team, currently ranked number one in the world. Leinster began exploring potential higher education partners with the intent of establishing an even stronger presence in the country in anticipation of the men’s and women’s Rugby World Cups, which the U.S. will host for the first time in 2031 and 2033.
“We’ve been to Syracuse University and have met with the administration, rugby club coaches, devoted rugby alumni and current student-athletes, and we’re very excited to launch this initiative. We want to help propel Syracuse’s rugby club teams to be among the best in the United States, and we think that Syracuse University, with its impressive educational quality and strong rugby club programs, is the perfect place for this partnership,” says Phillip Lawlor, head of rugby development for Leinster Rugby.
Wilson anticipates the University will become a sought-after destination for Irish students looking to study abroad in the U.S. while playing competitive collegiate rugby. The partnership will provide experiential learning opportunities for sport management and other University students, who will intern at Leinster’s operations in Dublin as part of a capstone project.
Syracuse University has a long and proud history of supporting club sports programs on campus. In fact, the rugby programs are two of 45 sports clubs at Syracuse University. More than 1,500 students participate in at least one club sport. Many club sports are competitive, while others are more social, but all help students build community, find purpose and strengthen their connection to a sport. Rugby has an especially deep tradition at Syracuse. Just last spring, more than 200 alumni, many of whom had their first experience with rugby while a student, returned to campus to celebrate 50 years of rugby at Syracuse.