New England College Women’s Rugby
On July 11, 2018, Lou Izzi, Director of Athletics at New England College, announced the addition of varsity women’s rugby as the school’s ninth women’s sports offering. The women’s rugby team will begin competition in the fall of 2019. A national search for the program’s first full-time head coach was conducted and Tom Campbell was hired as the College’s first-ever women’s rugby head coach. He will begin the new position on September 24.
Izzy indicated that “Tom emerged from a strong pool of candidates as he demonstrated a true passion for the sport of rugby and a strong vision for building and developing our team. Tom has excelled as an outstanding women’s rugby coach for several years and we are expecting his experience and expertise to be invaluable in the formative years of our program.”
Tom is a certified USA Rugby women’s rugby coach and spent nine seasons at Roger Williams University. While there, the Roger Williams squad qualified for three-straight NSCRO national championship games and were named national champions in 2014. The team also won back-to-back Beast of the East rugby tournaments in 2015 and 2016.
Campbell indicated that “I’m very excited to be joining NEC as the head coach of the women’s rugby team. Rugby is one of the fastest growing sports in America, and I look forward to building the first varsity women’s team at NEC. I’d like to thank Lou Izzi and Katie Greene for the opportunity.”
Campbell also coached at the club teams at the University of Rhode Island and Rhode Island College. He graduated from Lafayette College in Easton, Pa., where he was a founder of the school’s men’s rugby club.
Women’s Rugby at New England College will be the second sport that has been added during a three-year period. Women’s Volleyball was added in 2017 and both sports provide more opportunities for women to experience Division III athletics.
The Pilgrims will compete as members of the National Intercollegiate Rugby Association (NIRA). Other member schools include Norwich, Bowdoin, Castleton, Colby-Sawyer, and the University of New England.
“The NIRA played its inaugural season in 2017. The 17-member league, which is broken up into two divisions, was formed in the spring of 2017 to meet the growing needs of east coast rugby programs. Currently, 19 schools offer NCAA women’s rugby nationwide, including five Division III schools in New England.”