Florida A&M has established its first rugby team, becoming the first HBCU with a full 15-member team.
The Florida Rugby Union regulates all state rugby teams and is categorized in four divisions: men’s, women’s, collegiate men’s and collegiate women’s.
Head coach Darrell Ray believes his team is more than capable of going all the way this season.
“A new club is built upon the new blood it replenishes itself with,” Ray said. “With all the athleticism we have, we bring a certain type of uniqueness to the game.”
There are 15 men’s rugby clubs and five women rugby clubs in Florida.
Senior history student Adam Xavier McNeil is team captain for the Rattlers. He said the challenges establishing a new team will breed unity.
“The major deal is getting the games situated and waiting for the conference to give the new schedule,” McNeil said. “We’re also in the process of getting finances for the jerseys and acquiring additional players.”
Kimani Flemming, a sophomore agribusiness student the rugby team, said the team is a major achievement for the university.
“Being the first HBCU ever to have a full 15-member rugby team is a great accomplishment,” Flemming said. “We’re making history and starting a new legacy at FAMU.”
The team’s first match is Saturday at 1 p.m. at the intramural field.
The rugby team will also play in a USA Sevens Rugby Tournament in March.
Giovanni Richardson, a freshman civil engineering student, said the team is well-prepared because the players trained with professional rugby players.
“Throughout the fall, we have been working with the Tallahassee Rugby Football Club to gain better experience on the field,” Richardson said.