University of Arizona Rugby was gifted $1 million by Jason Figley, a parent of a current and former Wildcat. The generous gift will be applied to two endeavors. Firstly, the donation will go towards creating an endowment to fund scholarships for recruited student-athletes. The new “Front Foot Scholars Program,” will assist in supporting Arizona Rugby players through the financial burdens of attending the University. Future players will not need to sacrifice their rugby nor their education due to their economic situation. The second part of the donation will go towards updating the training facility for all club sports.
When asked about how the new scholarship will affect the growth of the program, Arizona Coach Sean Duffy said, “This will immediately make us one of the few if not the only NCAA Div I institution that will be offering rugby scholarships… we are thrilled to be able to offer this to families to help bring the best and brightest to Tucson.” Duffy’s vision for the program transcends beyond having a rugby team in addition to an education. He wants the two to work seamlessly together, understanding the value of a great rugby program in cohesion with a great education. The new scholarship will help forward that effort in allowing the best recruits to grow into the best student-athletes.
Duffy is very excited about the future of the program. “We have athletes from all over the country and the world and to see their faith in our institution, our supporters, and our program be responded to with a monumental move like this is creating a great deal of excitement in the team,” says Coach on his team’s reaction to the support, “Our hope is it’s just the start.” CRAA is thrilled for the program and excited to see what the future holds.
CRAA Social Media Manager and USA Eagle Jenny Kronish and the University of Arizona’s Sean Duffy had a fireside chat to discuss the recent news:
JK: How does this new scholarship affect the growth of your program?
SD: This will immediately make us one of the few if not the only NCAA Div I institution that will be offering rugby scholarships starting this admissions cycle. Our scholarships will grow as we build and we are thrilled to be able to offer this to families to help bring the best and the brightest to Tucson.
JK: As rugby begins to expand more throughout the US, how does Arizona plan to get on the “front foot” as one of the best programs in the country?
SD: In our view, there are a lot of great academic institutions in this country that also have rugby. There are also some great Rugby programs at enrollment-based colleges and universities that are using rugby to help in that mission. We are neither of those. Our goal is to provide student-athletes in men’s and women’s rugby the very best of both.
JK: How is the team reacting to the news of new training facilities?
SD: The team is thrilled. We have athletes from all over the country and the world and to see their faith in our institution, our supporters, and our program be responded to with a monumental move like this is creating a great deal of excitement in the team. Our hope is it’s just the start.