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Wheeling Jesuit University in Wheeling, WV has hired Eric Jerpe as head coach of their newly-formed varsity men’s rugby program.
Jerpe, who has worked as coach at California University (Pa) and with USA Rugby in youth development, was urged to apply by high school coaches in his region, and has signed on as their full-time varsity coach.
Wheeling Jesuit announced December 13 that it was bringing rugby back to campus after an 18-year hiatus, and making the sport varsity. University President Richard Beyer had seen the popularity of rugby in Jesuit high schools and it’s clear Wheeling Jesuit made the decision to offer rugby in part to attract more students.
Jerpe, for his part, is thrilled.
“I am very excited, as much because the university is showing faith in the sport and in what the sport can offer,” he told RUGBYMag.com.
Jerpe said he has no players, and no staff (yet).
“We are starting from square one,” he added. “I will be talking to a lot of high school players, and we will be able to offer scholarships. But this will be a varsity program. The players will be held accountable, and we will set the bar high for academics, leadership, and personal accountability.”
Jerpe said he is learning a lot about Wheeling Jesuit and said the academic record of the University is very strong.
“The numbers of graduates they get accepted to top graduate programs is very impressive,” he said.
It is unclear right now where Wheeling Jesuit will compete, as unions in the region are in flux. But Jerpe said the plan is to field a men’s 15s team in the fall. He said 7s will come later, and will be pursued, but “the priority is to get a 15s program started.”