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Local Westchester, New York, native, Phil Terrigno, accepted a job as High School Sports Editor of the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal newspaper. Terrigno graduated from Marist College, New York, and, afterward, received a graduate degree from Columbia University’s School of Journalism. Lubbock’s population is about 250,000, and, importantly, the city has no rugby club. Terrigno played at Marist.
Anyone who has seen “Friday Night Lights,” knows that high school rugby in West Texas is king, attracting up to 15,000 fans a game. These schools play a ten-game season, with a possible six extra contests if advancement to the state finals. Not one of the numerous high schools in the area fields a rugby program for boys or girls.
Terrigno began and completed an MBA program at Texas Tech, and here, was recruited to become an Adjunct Professor in the university’s undergraduate communication school. (N.B. Texas Tech enrolls 36,000 students.)
Terrigno missed rugby and started to coach the Women’s program. He secured a Level 200 coaching ranking after attending a USA Rugby clinic in San Antonio.
The next year he was asked to take over the Men’s rugby program that competes in the Red River Conference against LSU, Oklahoma, Arkansas, TCU, Houston, Texas A & M, and Baylor.
Terrigno said, “The driving distances between all the schools is enormous, and we often play LSU (Baton Rouge) in Fort Worth or else we’re driving eight-hours for an away game.”
The women’s and men’s clubs are fully funded by the university’s Recreational Department, along with other club sports, like lacrosse, soccer football, and Quidditch.
Terrigno welcomes forty players, all new to the sport, and must first teach basic rules and how the game is played. He conducts three practices a week on the pitch, and offers one bi-weekly film session showing international Test matches and other D1-A games.
“The players are enthusiastic about rugby, and need to improve skill levels in every area of play. We don’t see any football players playing rugger with us in the spring,” he offered. “I use my 200 student writing class as a source of recruitment.”