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(Rugby Today interviewed Phil Terrigno, Head Women’s and Men’s Rugby Coach at Texas Tech, which plays in the Red River Conference. The other schools – a mix of Big 12 Conference and SEC - are Baylor, Oklahoma, Arkansas, TCU, Houston, Texas A & M, Texas, and LSU.
Q. Rugby Today: Is Texas Tech recruiting more boys who have previously played rugby in high schools?
A. Terrigno: Yes, the high school rugby scene is exceedingly strong throughout Texas. I find that freshman rugby players are better prepared to compete on a higher level having started the game earlier in high school. The Club and its officers maintain communication with high school coaches throughout the year, informing them Texas Tech is looking for students who want to stay in state, and who are also looking for structured rugby. Another route for us is to attend the many summer sevens tournament for clubs or U-19 teams where we introduce our program.
Q. Rugby Today: How different is recruitment for women attending the university?
A. Terrigno: Admittedly, Texas Tech is behind in recruiting girls within the state. Now Rugby is a student club, so the existing players do the recruitment among the incoming freshman class. The teams is dedicated and we have confidence the club will grow. Most of the new players are crossover athletes from soccer and track and field. Whereas half of the freshman men have played rugby, almost none of the freshman women have so we must start with fundamentals. But these new players progress along a fast curve of learning and our women’s side enjoyed a winning season this year, finishing above .500.
Q. Rugby Today: What’s new in the Red River Rugby Conference?
A. Terrigno: Many of the conference matches are now streamed live on three platforms; television, and two on-line. The on-line platforms are FLORugby (Austin, TX) and Gift-Time Rugby Network (Baton Rouge, LA), and Eleven Sports TV network. The streaming has a benefit for the Conference because; (1) it generates exposure and (2) the universities receive excellent quality film of the games. These streaming conversations were started by TeShay Flowers, Commissioner of the Conference and TCU RFC coach.
Q. Rugby Today: How does the long time for travel affect the rugby in the Conference?
A. Terrigno: We treat it simply as a cost of doing business and not a point of emphasis. So, we don’t belabor the distance between schools. I prepare the team to make the trips safely. But it’s just a reality of playing in this part of the country. In the North Division of the Conference, Texas Tech plays Arkansas (eight and a half hours), Baylor (six hours), and Oklahoma (five hours), each team is scheduled twice in cross-over matches,
Q. Rugby Today: How does your team treat social media?
A. Terrigno: Texas Tech provide accurate and up-to-date information, including scheduling and scores, plus photos and videos in real time. Both our fans and competitors value this information. We keep our social media feeds as updated as possible.