Varsity sports have various supporters, good attendance, and ample coverage from UPEI. Club sports, on the other hand, although they are just as competitive as Varsity teams, are not given the same amount of promotion and funding. I should know, I play for the UPEI Men’s Rugby team, a UPEI Club sport.
The benefit of being on a Club team is that there are a variety of players as both UPEI and Holland College students play on these teams. The Men’s Rugby team, in particular, has one of the biggest teams on campus with a total of 50 players. Moreover, practices are manageable, and since we are in a small league, we have a very manageable player fee of $150. This fee includes the uniform and travel expenses. Thankfully, UPEI provides us with the facilities to practice on and hold games.
Our team has developed an amazing supportive atmosphere, everyone from the first years to the seniors have each other’s backs. It would be helpful though if UPEI was backing us as well.
There are several obstacles holding the team back. One of the biggest problems is a lack of publicity. The team’s schedule is not listed on the UPEI Panthers website. What’s more, our team model Grant Kenny is featured on the Panther posters around the school, but the Men’s Rugby team’s schedule is not. Lack of promotion and coverage leads to low attendance which hurts our team.
Another looming problem is a lack of funds for our team. Whatever money is not from players’ pockets comes from alumni contributions and fan donations. None of the money comes from UPEI. The team wants to feel apart of the UPEI Panthers community, but right now, we feel devalued. Most of the student body isn’t even aware that we exist.
All the same, our team will not let the fact that we get invited to events last minute and are not given adequate coverage and financial aid get in the way of the one thing we are committed to doing, playing rugby. Of all the sports teams I’ve been a part of, I have never seen a more dedicated group of men. Whether the game is away or at home, we give it our all and we proudly represent the university.
I’d be remiss if I did not mention the efforts of UPEI Coordinator for Promotions and Community Engagement Leigh Reid who has achieved much for us, including inviting us to publicity events alongside fellow sports teams and providing more advertisement for the team. We are very grateful for his efforts. However, the UPEI Men’s Rugby team is still in great need of promotion and coverage.
I hope that by vocalizing these issues the Men’s Rugby team will see improvements soon.
By: Iain Burhoe
This article is part of The Cadre’s opinion section