Funding issues create friction between rugby teams

by Laura Glickman | 11/21/03 6:00am

As a rugby player, Sheila Hicks '04 feels a bond with rugby players she meets everywhere -- except with the Dartmouth's men's rugby team.

"Historically, they think we're stealing their money," said Hicks, who is the women's rugby friends' chair.

Because of Title IX, which requires equal opportunities for male and female athletes, some financial contributions that men's rugby would otherwise receive go to the women's rugby club. Most who agree with Hicks believe this is the main reason for the tension between the two teams.

According to deputy athletic director Robert Ceplikas, the rugby club raises about $30,000 each year. Donors cannot contribute directly to the men's or women's team; instead, they must donate to the rugby club as a whole. In accordance with Title IX, these donations are then split equally between the men's and women's teams.

The men's team is responsible for 85 percent of the rugby club's donations, men's rugby treasurer Mike Curley '05 said. Women's rugby President Annie Snider '04 attributed this to the women's team's much smaller number of alumnae. The women's rugby club formed in 1978, making it 27 years younger than the men's team.

Men's rugby "doesn't like the money situation. We get a lot more than we raise," Snider said. "I wouldn't want to split the money either, and it's a shame it has to work like that."

Curley, however, said that although the men's team "jokes around about money issues," there is no major rift between the teams.

The idea that there's a rift "is something that's joked around about but never really existed," Curley said.

But Curley and Snider agree that relations between the two teams are improving.

"We're seeing we all have the same goals in mind -- to be successful at rugby and to have a good time," Curley said.

Still, the teams "are not to the point where we hang out," according to Hicks.

"As a team, there's a barrier between us. We're not seen as complementary sides, but I think someday we could be," Hicks said. "We want more connections, more camaraderie ... I would love to have a formal [with the men's club]. Can't we all get dressed up and eat at Panda House at midnight?"

Despite their differences, the men and women's teams will soon share a clubhouse.

After decades of waiting, construction of the rugby clubhouse at Garripay Field will begin this spring, according to Associate Provost Mary Gorman.

Construction of the clubhouse has been delayed many times just three days before breaking ground. Most recently, in the fall of 2000, a delay in the approval of a land exchange between the Town of Hanover and the Hanover School District halted construction of the clubhouse just three days before construction was scheduled to begin.

The money to construct the clubhouse comes from an endowment by sports writer Corey Ford and other donations.

The men and women's clubs will share the facility, which will have locker rooms, training rooms, showers, changing rooms and offices.

"With the new clubhouse, I see the two teams coming together even more," Curley said.

According to some rugby players, the men's and women's clubs used to get along well, before the tension of recent years. But many are confident relations will further improve.

"In 20 or 30 years, we'll have a fairly even alumni base, so relations will be great," Snider said.