With its founding in 1970, the University of Tennessee Men’s Rugby Team has a rich tradition spanning over 50 years. Throughout the years, UT Rugby has enjoyed great success both on and off the field. Competitively, the team has won numerous conference and union championships; with the highlight of the team’s success culminating with the 2021 Division 1 Club Rugby National Championship. The team has gained tremendous respect on campus, earning multiple “Club of the Year” honors, and maintaining strong relationships with Academics, RecSports, Admissions, Advancement, and Development. Rugby remains a club sport at Tennessee so most of the financial support comes from the team members, alumni, community donors, and fundraising. As the club looks to build on the past success and move forward into a new era, financial support is paramount.
The Volunteer Rugby Foundation is a 501c3 tax-exempt non-profit organization and serves as the official fundraising arm of the University of Tennessee Men’s Rugby Club. The foundation is led by dedicated and loyal supporters of rugby at the University of Tennessee. The Volunteer Rugby Foundation’s mission is to enhance, enrich, and insure the continuous growth of rugby on the campus of the University of Tennessee and in the local community.
Goals of the Volunteer Rugby Foundation:
- To provide guidance and assistance in coordinating an organized program of support for the rugby team at the University of Tennessee
- To use gift support from alumni, friends, faculty, corporations, business establishments and other organizations for the advancement of student athletes who play rugby at UT.
- To encourage, recognize, and reward outstanding academic and athletic achievements to the students of The University of Tennessee.
- To support in the recruitment of student athletes to the University of Tennessee
- To aid in the organization of programs aimed at benefiting youth in the community by aiding youth teams, leagues, and related community service projects.
- To aid in the maintenance and upgrades of the facilities used by the Tennessee Rugby and its supported programming.
Funding Support for Men’s Rugby
The Volunteer Rugby Foundation provides support directly to the team through the funding of travel and equipment. The foundation supports the team during conference and national playoffs with financial support to assist with the cost of travel. Additionally, financial support is provided for the purchase of team jerseys and field equipment.
In today’s rugby world, recruiting is essential to the success of rugby at the University of Tennessee. Financial support for recruiting enables the coaches and team to host prospective students and creates the opportunity to participate in signing ceremonies each spring.
Each year the foundation assists with planning the annual Gala and UT Old Boys Weekend.
The VRF Gala and Awards Banquet is held each year at the end of the spring semester and is an opportunity for players, family, alumni, and supporters to gather to celebrate another year of Tennessee Rugby. Team Awards, Scholarships, and Alumni recognitions are all featured during a festive evening at the Knoxville Convention Center.
Held each fall, the UT Old Boys Weekend is an opportunity for alumni and teammates to return to Knoxville for a weekend of friendship, fellowship, and brotherhood – and a bit of storytelling….
Coaching and Administration Support
The Volunteer Rugby Foundation and the Robertson Endowment provide leadership and financial resources for skilled and dedicated coaching and administrative support for the organization. Named after Butch Robertson, the Robertson Endowment funds stipends for coaching and administrative positions and is designed to anchor the future of rugby at Tennessee for the next generation of student athletes.
DIRECTOR OF RUGBY – This volunteer position is responsible for the management of the rugby program and administration of the Volunteer Rugby Foundation. Expenses related to this position are funded through the foundation.
HEAD COACH – Funded through a partnership with university development through the Robertson Endowment, the head coach is under an annual contract with a stipend funded through donations to the university. The Robertson Endowment is the primary vehicle for funding the stipend and VRF provides for expenses related to the duties of the coach. This position reports to the Director of Rugby.
PROGRAM MANAGER – Funded through the foundation, the program manager handles the administrative and operational duties of the rugby program. This position reports to the Director of Rugby.
MEDIA & COMMUNICATIONS COORDINATOR – Funded through a partnership with the university, this position is a paid internship that coordinates media and communications of the team. This position reports to the Director of Rugby.
Scholarships / Stipends
UT Men’s Rugby offers scholarships to student athletes that range in value from $500 to $2500. These awards are funded through the Volunteer Rugby Foundation or an endowed scholarship fund through the university.
SEXTON SCHOLARSHIP – The Richard Sexton Memorial Scholarship Fund was established to honor one of the team’s earliest members who was instrumental in the club’s success. This scholarship is awarded to worthy club members who exemplify Richard’s effort, enthusiasm, and commitment to Tennessee Rugby. This award is funded through the Richard Sexton Memorial Endowment with the University of Tennessee.
VOLUNTEER RIUGBY AWARD – The Volunteer Rugby Scholarship Award was created in 2001 to recognize and reward those incoming student athletes that select the University of Tennessee and make a commitment to play rugby for Tennessee. Many times, this award includes a signing ceremony at the student’s high school and is funded through the Volunteer Rugby Foundation.
THE RESILIENCY AWARD – The Resiliency Scholarship Award features a stipend that will go to the selected Tennessee player who overcomes adversity and returns to contribute significantly to the good of the club on and/or off the pitch. This award is funded through the Duncan Family.
GRINDSTONE AWARD – The Grindstone Scholarship Award was formed in 2007. It recognizes those players with a strong work ethic who are dedicated to their education and their commitment to UT Rugby. The overall intent of the award is to lessen the burden for the student athlete that may be working or borrowing to assist in the funding of their education. This award is funded through the foundation and the Williams Family.