April 01, 2015
The men’s rugby club, under the direction of Jonathan Niles, who also serves as Susquehanna’s Mellon grant program director on the Freshwater Research Initiative, has established itself as one of the premier programs in the mid-Atlantic with an impressive campaign.
Competing in the Eastern Pennsylvania Rugby Union (EPRU) of the National Small College Rugby Organization (NSCRO), the eighth-ranked Crusaders finished with a 9-0 record while outscoring their opponents 466-83.
The team reached the EPRU finals for the third consecutive season and defeated Neumann University, 53-24, to capture its first title in more than a decade. The victory gave Susquehanna a berth in the Mid-Atlantic Regional Championship, where it faced Mount St. Mary’s University on March 28 in Charlotte, N.C., for a spot in the national quarterfinals. The team is not an overnight success story, but rather a program that has been built on continuity over the last several years. As Niles notes, a strong, veteran senior class has been instrumental in the translation of hard work into results.
“We have seven seniors that start and several who are in their fourth years of playing together, which is great for continuity,” Niles says. What they’ve done on the field also bodes well for the future success of the program by attracting prospective student athletes from the mid-Atlantic, a region that is traditionally strong in the sport.
“Our success has raised [Susquehanna’s] profile both regionally and nationally,” Niles says. “We’re receiving more and more applicants who have played high school rugby and are interested in continuing at the college level.”