Walsh University Welcomes New Rugby Coaching Staff

Walsh University has appointed three coaches to lead its new men's and women's rugby programs, which compete in the National Collegiate Rugby (NCR) league. The men's team will compete in the Rugby East conference, widely regarded as the top collegiate rugby conference in the country. The women's team will compete in the Allegheny Rugby Union. These strategic hires follow the recent closure of Notre Dame College, resulting in the transition of their rugby teams to Walsh.

Jason Fox has been named Director of Rugby and Head Coach for the men’s rugby team. Fox brings extensive experience and a proven track record, including guiding the Falcons to national prominence. He led Notre Dame College to the 2023 NCR D1 Men's National Championship and was honored as the USA Rugby Competitive Coach of the Year in 2016. Fox said, “I am honored to be part of Walsh University and to lead the Cavaliers rugby program. I look forward to building on the team’s previous successes and creating a vibrant, competitive environment that our players and fans can be proud of.”

Cornel Britz joins as Assistant Coach for men's rugby. Britz, a former semiprofessional player, has a robust coaching background. He played for the Griffons u/19 Currie Cup team and earned a degree in Sport Science from the University of Stellenbosch. Britz will assist Fox in all aspects of the men’s program.

Kelly Wallenhorst takes on the role of Head Coach for women's rugby, a top emerging sport for women. Wallenhorst, who earned her MBA from Notre Dame College, brings numerous academic and athletic honors. As a first-time head coach, she will oversee all aspects of the women's rugby program, including recruiting, scheduling, and fundraising. Wallenhorst said, “I am thrilled to lead the women’s rugby team at Walsh University. We aim to build a strong, competitive program that excels both on and off the field.”

“We are thrilled to welcome the rugby teams and Coaches Fox, Britz, and Wallenhorst to Walsh University,” said President Tim Collins. “Athletics serves as one of the largest learning laboratories on campus, offering invaluable lessons in teamwork, leadership, and resilience. This move not only enhances our athletic offerings but also aligns with our Catholic mission of fostering community, integrity, and excellence. We look forward to the positive impact they will have on our university and the broader community.”

Walsh University leadership collaborated with Fox to evaluate the feasibility of integrating the rugby teams into its athletic program. To accommodate them, Walsh has designated the grass fields on the north side of the Klekotka Tennis Complex as the official “pitch” for the new rugby teams.

The addition of these coaches marks a significant milestone for Walsh University, promising to uphold and advance the legacy of rugby excellence established by Notre Dame College. The rugby teams have a rich history of success and achievement that align with Walsh’s tradition of athletic excellence.

“Keeping the teams together was a priority for us, and we're honored they chose Walsh,” said Christina Paone, Interim Vice President for Athletics and Athletic Director. “I am excited to work with these talented coaches and look forward to the success they will bring to our rugby programs.”

Since committing to assist Notre Dame College students on February 29, hundreds of Notre Dame students have visited campus, and Walsh has received 130 applications as of April 1, with applications steadily coming in. The University has set up a fundraising page at specifically for Notre Dame students transferring to Walsh. Donors can further restrict their gifts to the rugby program.