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The raising of monies for rugby clubs has, as its most memorable past, the decision of the Melrose RFC, a Scottish border club, to offer a pioneering event for the first time ever; an invitational sevens tournament in April 1883. The rest is history.
Recently, one individual found a dynamic and successful initiative to funnel corporate and foundation monies in to American college rugby programs. He is Joe Jordan, an original New York Athletic Club rugger, an insurance industry and financial planning expert, and a well-known motivational speaker.
Jordan understood that the insurance business needed to offer products and services to a younger population, but also to introduce the industry to college aged men and women who might seek career opportunities. His first success was to encourage Penn Mutual Life Insurance Company to partner with United World Sports as a sponsor of the College Rugby Championship (CRC) to be held May 30 and 31 in Philadelphia. (Penn Mutual is also the title sponsor of the XVs Varsity Cup, occurring May 2nd in Rio Tinto Stadium in Salt Lake City.)
Jordan then perceived of an inventive strategy to acquaint Penn Mutual agents with local rugby clubs, a combined effort with monies coming from the agents and also from the New York AC’s Winged Foot Foundation (At $500 matching grants from each institution for each school, or $1,000 total). Jordan, himself, donated a sizable sum to start the NYAC’s generous funding program.
On March 20th, the first rugby donations occurred at midfield during halftime when BYU played Utah in the Wasatch Cup. Cambridge Financial Center, Penn Mutual’s local agents, presented checks of $3,000 to the coaches of both college sides. The extra $4,000 donated by Cambridge Financial, whose Jeffrey Johansen said, “Rugby is one of the fastest growing team sports in the United States and we are excited about Penn Mutual’s dedication to the sport.” Bryan Washburn, managing partner of the center, said he plans to make this check giving an annual event.
This is a brilliant idea who time has come. Penn Mutual and the Winged Foot Foundation will continue to offer monies to other college rugby clubs. Hats off to Joe Jordan for conceiving of (and funding, too) this altruistic idea.
Photo Placement - From left to right:
Bryan Washburn, Managing Partner, Penn Mutual locally known as Cambridge Financial
Haloti Liava’a University of Utah Rugby Head Coach
David Smyth, BYU Head Coach
Monty Andrus, Managing Partner, Penn Mutual locally known as Cambridge Financial
Jeff Johanson, Managing Director, Penn Mutual locally known as Cambridge Financial