Fresno State men’s rugby team honored in city of Fresno

Joshua Jacobson runs the ball down the field in the Pacific Western Conference League Championship game at Fresno State Kinesiology field. (Estela Anahi Jaramillo/The Collegian)

The city of Fresno declared June 9, 2022 to be “Fresno State Men’s Rugby Day,” honoring Fresno State’s men’s rugby team for earning its first national championship after an undefeated season.

The team accepted the proclamation from Fresno Mayor Jerry Dyer, who sponsored it, at the city council meeting on June 9.

“Congratulations to the Fresno State men’s rugby team on earning their first national championship,” Dyer said on Twitter. “The team is very talented and very skilled. Rugby is something I deeply respect.”

The rugby club started in 2009, making it one of the youngest teams in the league. As a club sport, none of the athletes are eligible for athletic scholarship aid, as well as access to the weight room and equipment.

In 2021 the team spoke out about this lack of support, which often left them practicing at Rotary West Park on Gettysburg Ave, where the team had to pay $75 out of its own pockets to use the field for each practice. Past coverage by The Collegian cited issues with cars being broken into, bugs infesting the area and poor maintenance of the field.

At the time head coach Patrick Quan, who joined the team in 2015, pointed out that other schools often don’t face the same issues. 

Stanford’s rugby team, created in 1891, has its own multi-million dollar field and receives funding despite club sport status. Quan himself, technically a volunteer rather than a coach due to club sport status, noted receiving no payment despite coaching a team ranked no. 11 in the nation, while Stanford coaching positions are higher-paying.

Fresno State beat Stanford 62-17 in 2020.

Following the publication of The Collegian article, the team got more help and now it practices at the Fresno State Kinesiology Field. 

Director of club sports Eddie Dominguez assisted in part with the travel fees earlier this year for the team’s championship matches in Texas, where it won the D1AA Championship title after previously taking the Pacific Western Conference League Championship. The rest of the travel fees were aided by local rugby fans and donors.

But in May, Quan called the school’s connection to the award-winning program “unresolved.” 

“Hopefully, a national championship is a great example of what the rugby program can bring to Fresno State, but what does it get in return from the school to maintain and improve this national prominence is the question which I cannot answer,” Quan said.

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