Notre Dame College Rugby Moving to Walsh University

After an institutional search, Walsh University announces that the players and coaching staff of the Notre Dame College men’s and women’s Rugby teams have declared Walsh University the place they intend to make their new home. To date, 42 members of the men’s team and 15 members of the women’s team have applied to Walsh University. Additionally, on April 2, 60 members of the Notre Dame College Rugby teams signed letters of commitment at a special signing ceremony at the Euclid campus. Current members of the Notre Dame College Rugby teams signed letters of commitment at a special signing ceremony on April 2, 2024 held at the Euclid campus.

Walsh University currently does not have a Rugby program; however, compelled by the dedication and desire of the team to stay together coming off a winning season, Walsh University worked with Notre Dame College Director of Rugby Operations, Jason Fox to assess the feasibility. 

Notre Dame College’s Rugby teams compete in the National Collegiate Rugby (NCR) league as DI in the Rugby East conference, considered by many as the top collegiate rugby conference in the country. The Rugby East league includes Army, West Point, U.S. Naval Academy, Penn State University, and St. Bonaventure to name a few. To accommodate the Rugby teams, Walsh University has designated the grass fields on the north side of the Klekotka Tennis Complex as the “pitch” for the new Rugby teams. These fields, generously donated to Walsh University by the Hoover Company in 2004, will provide ample space for the teams, who prefer grass to turf, to practice and compete.

photo of Rugby athlete signing an offer letter from Walsh University

“I cannot express enough how happy we are to find a home at Walsh University as a Rugby program,” said Notre Dame College Director of Rugby Operations Jason Fox. “For Walsh University to take two entire Rugby programs looking for a home is awesome! We hope to make Walsh proud!”

The Notre Dame College Rugby teams have a rich history of success and achievement that align with Walsh’s tradition of athletic excellence. The men's team reached new heights in 2023 by clinching the Division I National Collegiate Rugby Championship, while the women's team has consistently excelled at the Division I level since its establishment in 2012.

“We are thrilled to welcome all Notre Dame College students to Walsh University,” said Walsh University President Tim Collins. “We extend our warmest welcome to them, offering our support and encouragement as they navigate this transition, guided by the values of community and compassion ingrained in our Catholic mission.”

Since announcing the commitment to assist Notre Dame College students on February 29, roughly 220 Notre Dame students have visited campus, and Walsh University has received 130 applications as of April 1, with applications coming in steadily.

Walsh University’s focus now is on working with the teams, coaches, and all students from Notre Dame College with an interest in coming to Walsh University to ensure a seamless transition. Additionally, the University has set up a fundraising page at specifically for Notre Dame Students who are transferring into Walsh. As part of this initiative, donors can further restrict their gift to the Rugby program.

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Video Credit: Goff Rugby Report