When Colby announced last November that it would cease funding club rugby teams after the 2013-14 academic year, students and alumni reacted fiercely. They organized on social media with a “save Colby rugby” hashtag and Facebook group, alerted sports reporters and rugby organizations, and created a petition that garnered more than 4,000 signatures of supporters urging the College to reconsider.
In December Colby announced that it would fund rugby through the 2014-15 academic year, allowing additional time to examine the situation.
The College’s position is that risks associated with rugby require a level of coaching and training support that far surpasses the financial investment Colby makes in any other club sport. According to messages from Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of Faculty Lori Kletzer, it is unsafe to operate without the level of staffing Colby proposed, and the cost of that staffing would be prohibitive.
In agreeing to fund club rugby for an additional year, the College acknowledged the importance of the sport to students and alumni. “I hope that in the time afforded us by this decision we can seek ways to satisfy the College’s very real need to effectively manage the safety issues surrounding the sport,” Kletzer wrote, “clearly identify the financial resources needed to manage those risks going forward, and honor the passion and commitment so clearly held by those who love the sport.”